#100coffeecups made him Internet-famous. Now CCAD alum Josh Hara shares his 5 favorite Starbucks cup drawings with us.

Back when he was a student at Columbus College of Art & Design, Josh Hara (Illustration, 1996) made his mark on illustration board. These days, Hara, now Creative Director at IBM iX in Columbus (formerly Resource Interactive) has chosen a new canvas for his self-expression.

Well, not canvas, exactly. Coffee cups. Starbucks coffee cups, to be precise.

"CCAD taught me what to look for, and strive toward, from my very first day of school, to my very last."

josh hara headshot

Fueled by creativity and a hefty dose of caffeine, Hara embarked on #100CoffeeCups, a series that saw him make 100 coffee cup cartoons—and many, many more.

The project has gained Hara a number of fans—including more than 110,000 on Instagram and over 79,000 on Twitter—and has gotten scores of press, including the following: Mashable, Buzzfeed, Telegraph (UK), Metro (UK), Laughing Squid, Bustle, Bored Panda, Eater, Delish, The Columbus Dispatch, Talk Illustration, Threadless, Business Insider, Comedy Central (UK), Asian Age, SF Gate, The Culture Trip, 614 Columbus, and 614now.

Hear from Hara below on how CCAD helped his career get started and how coffee has fueled his creative expression.

coffee is latte

Coffee is Lit

There’s some nostalgia to this one. It reminds me of one of those pun-ny Bazooka Joe comics. My kids are at the age where they’re saying things like “lit,” and I’m at the age where I’m making corny jokes about it.

kimye coffee

Caffeinating the Internet  

This one makes me laugh. It’s a reference to Kim Kardashian’s Paper magazine cover, of course, and also to #100CoffeeCups’ own viral moment. I love the silliness, the expression on the barista’s face. My first goal is always to create things that make me laugh.

sesame street coffee

Coffee when your brain needs a hug  

As I said, I have kids, and so I’ve watched a lot of Sesame Street, and a lot of Elmo. Oscar the Grouch is like the yin to Elmo’s yang, and a great representation of being under-caffeinated vs. over-caffeinated. This is also one of the first coffee cup illustrations where I used watercolors, so there’s a bit of experimentation going on here, too. (I’ve since used other media, including even painting with coffee.)

How did you get into drawing coffee cup comics?

Back when I was an illustration major at CCAD, most of my projects were created on illustration board (do people even still use that stuff? I seriously have no idea). So, when I started working as the Director of Social Creative for Resource in 2012, I would stop at the Starbucks next door and get a coffee before work every day. And I just kept noticing that blank side of the cup—it was so pristine, so smooth. I just knew it would take ink really well. So, after about a year on the job, I was looking to get back into drawing comics again (I had taken a long break thanks to Twitter and other social media distractions), and I had a few ideas that were coffee-related, so I decided they would be much funnier on the side of a coffee cup. By the time I posted my third one to Instagram, a friend from Twitter with a large following thought I was onto something. She encouraged me to keep going, so I decided I would do 100 before the year was out. I came up with the hashtag #100CoffeeCups and I was off.

omg no delete it

omg no delete it 

There are a couple of visual jokes about Instagram going on hereour tendency to snap photos of a particularly good looking cup of coffee, and our tendency to beg friends not to post less than flattering photos. It’s fun topardon the punlightly roast the social channel you’re posting on. Also, I love giving personality and voice to inanimate objects. Using Twitter over the years has taught me the power of brevity.

it coffee cup

Ready for Winter 

Here, I’m talking about another pop culture moment and translating it for the coffee community. I’m proud of the way Pennywise the clown came out. Like omg no, delete it, this cup has been digitally colorized.

How did your CCAD education help you in life and with your coffee cup comics?

CCAD gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a creative career. I’ve gone in so many directions since I graduated in 1996, but the rigorous curriculum, the experience of constantly exploring all aspects of your artistic abilities, and even the basic foundational skills from freshman year all come up in my work on a daily basis. I know what makes a great design, illustration, painting, or coffee cup comic. All because CCAD taught me what to look for, and strive toward, from my very first day of school, to my very last.

bees coffee cup

Roses are Red 

Again, I’m playing with memes here. In this case, it’s taking the poem “roses are red” and pairing it with an offbeat news headline as a kicker. Whether it’s pop culture, things from my own life, or things that are in the news, I’m always trying to think of a new way to make people laugh. And I’m really happy with how this drawing came out, too.


Learn more about the Illustration major at Columbus College of Art & Design or apply here.