Try to Smile

2021 – Present

Try to Smile is a series about desire and consent… it started as sort of an “elevated” version of Happy Bunny, but continues to evolve into so much more.

Desire and Consent: In General

“Try to smile” is a simple phrase with a simple design that represents the complex miscommunication that occurs simply because we are bad at communicating clearly with one another (whether that is because of language barrier, cultural barrier, inability to distinguish emotion from behind a mask, passive aggression, assumptions, etc.).

The one saying the phrase might have genuine good intentions, but either way it’s passive aggressive. Are they saying that because they need you to be happy in order for them to be happy? Or do they just want you to follow their orders and pretend to be happy? Or do they simply make a judgment, see you’re in a bad place, and want you to try something different so they can be satisfied and not worried? Is it selfish? Is it kindness?

The one receiving the phrase might be unable to smile or they might just not want to smile simply because you told them to do it. They don’t exist to satisfy your desire to see them smile, but your need to be satisfied can be frustrating. Maybe they do actually need your advice, but it’s not the right time or mode of communication. Is it helpful?

These images serve as a reminder for the one saying the phrase (the seemingly age old question: what is your intention and what is the impact of your action) and the one receiving the phrase (freedom to accept or deny). 

Desire and Consent: Environmental 

The Try to Smile series continues to evolve and is developing a narrative that may eventually merge with my Tulip and Clown series. It starts with living things in the environment, like animals. They haven’t consented to the massive and unnatural destruction of their habitat by human corporations and toxic pollution. Yet they are forced to submit. Subsequently they become warped, twisted. They evolve a higher sentience, but they didn’t ask for that. They become more human-like while humans become less human (they become clowns of their former selves). Ultimately, what’s done is done. So what are the ways in which we can move forward from here?