For years, I have been fascinated with happiness – its arbitrariness as well as our insistence on studying it as though it were quantifiable. This investigation led me to Iceland, one of the happiest places in the world. In asking people, locals and tourists alike, what made them happy, I realized that one of the most universal and clearest ways to record their responses was to ask them to draw what made them happy. Drawing is one of the earliest skills we learn; its basic elements are comprehensible to people of all ages, cultures and nations. I reasoned that if people knew that they were happy, they should be able to identify the source and moreover, visually embody this joy.
Interestingly, results were not as straightforward as I thought they would be. In my initial round of asking 100 people in Iceland, some people who rejected me did so because they refused to draw even the most basic of shapes and stick figures. A smaller population were surprised that someone even bothered to ask them this question, because no one else previously had and neither had they asked this themselves. I decided to go forward with this project and ask everyone – friends, colleagues, teachers, and strangers back in New York (and the world) – to DrawHappy.
This is an ongoing project. If you would like to DrawHappy, yes, please do! Check the Submit page for details.
The sketches and portraits here are all uploaded with the participants’ permission.
To all participants, it was wonderful meeting you all and getting to know you through your drawings. Thank you very much for your time.
New York, NY, USA
I am a writer, visual artist and interaction designer. I started this project while doing my MFA in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I graduated last May 2012. You can find me on The Perceptionalist.