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Ray Geir and his quirky sQuishiepuss images are a quintessential asset to Atlanta’s contemporary art scene. His hot pink paint and googly-eyed cartoons have made appearances all throughout East Atlanta shops, as well as Voodoo donuts, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and our very own office wall. Ever since Ray moved to Atlanta he’s been nonstop busy with art shows, collaborations, and mural paintings. Lucky for us, the sQuishiepuss creator was more than happy to share his thoughts about art, Atlanta, and the Ameri-can-do attitude.
What do you like about Monday Night and craft breweries in general?
It was a real eye opener the first time I went to Monday Night to see how devoted they are to collaborate with artists to connect to their community. I’ve noticed people wanna use the word hipster as a diss and when people refer to hipster they refer to created stuff, but I don’t find that hipster. I find that as an American way of life, this, “I’m gonna build this thing out of nothing” idea. Monday Night has that American can-do attitude that gets me excited, and that attitude is so strong in Atlanta.
Why did you choose to establish roots in Atlanta?
My best friend moved down here when he was 16 and I came back and forth to Atlanta to visit him. Nothing struck me about this city until 7 years ago when I saw all this stuff happening. When I’m in Atlanta there’s always this passion behind it. It really felt like the people that lived here owned this city. And everyone has these projects they’re excited about. This spirit of Atlanta made me want to move. You can come here and start a project and be successful at it. People really care about Atlanta and there’s something really powerful in that.
What are some of your current and upcoming projects?
Current projects are the Phoenix fest pop-up events. I’m working with an art collective called Dear Bear Wolf to do mini versions of their Phoenix fest events like 24-hour live painting. I have three of those planned for the summer. I’m also doing a mural for Wix in their Manhattan office, and making an action figure on the side. As well as an artist collaboration called “sQuishiepuss Monster Mash Art Show” where I start 40 paintings and then pass them off to 40 other artists to finish. Other than that I have a coloring book I’ll be releasing through Dear Bear Wolf for the holiday and then I’m finished with the year.
What did you like about painting the Monday Night office mural?
It gave me a whole new sandbox to play in. I can do the things I normally do but in a different subject matter with the Monday Night core values, which were hilarious and unexpected. It was super refreshing and nice.
Our core values (Have Fun, Make it Happen, Embrace Mistakes, Fight for Excellence, and Honor People) are represented within Ray’s mural with the characters Bryan Adams, Captain America, Homer Simpson, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Care Bears respectively.
What was the inspiration behind your Monday Night tap handles?
That was probably, to be honest, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve never painted on the surface of something rigid. I love taking projects like that because I try to find ways to challenge myself. I ended up fitting things like the sQuishiepuss faces into the tie shape of the handle. It’s always interesting working with an odd shape and seeing what you can make out of it.
Have you received any reactions from the artwork you did for Monday Night?
After I posted the mural my email box exploded with people wanting me to do Super Hero stuff like Captain America. I saw this big burst of emails and projects coming in, so it’s beneficial for me, and [Monday Night] gets that recognition. I also got a bunch of text messages in about seeing my tap handle. I received a lot of positive emails and compliments.
What similarities and connections do you see between the beer and art communities?
It’s what people do with their thoughts. I buy hot pink paint and turn it into something that didn’t exist before. [Similarly] Monday Night was an idea, it started in a garage, and they created something that didn’t exist at that point. In a short period of time it turned into a brewery. Maybe that defines art? I don’t know, but having nothing and turning that into something, and having that something be what people react to and love and support, that’s a cohesive idea that runs through both categories.
And doing it locally in Atlanta because you still want the community involved. I try to work with the community and as many people as I can because I feel that’s important. We are Atlanta, we need each other, and we should want to be around each other. That’s the biggest thing, and at no point should the two ever be separate. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make their surroundings a better place.