Coffee Cups Elmo

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 (Illustration, 1996)
Josh 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.

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.

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. 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.

Some People Do, a children's book illustrated by Hara, will be released on June 1, 2019. Preorder your copy today.

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