The UTC Library’s whiteboard memes have gone viral on Facebook, made the front page of Reddit, and have been retweeted by USA Today College.
If you aren’t lucky enough to see them in person as you enter the library, they will likely show up on your newsfeed via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or tumblr. Have you ever wondered where those clever depictions come from?
Meet Stacy Chapman, Circulation Day Supervisor and Resident Whiteboard Artist.
UTC sat down with Chapman to learn more about her art and, of course, whether she accepts submission ideas (she does: read more to find out how).
How was the UTC Whiteboard conceived?
Last summer we ordered in some of the whiteboards, because when the study rooms run out and students still need them for formulas or whatever, we wanted a whiteboard for them to be able to check out. But, no one really paid much attention to our Facebook, so we wanted to put a board up that said, “Hey, you can actually check out whiteboards now.”
My husband will tell you, I really like to jazz things up. I can’t follow the recipe. It’s not good enough.
So, I drew a cat on the board that said “check meowt.” Everyone thought it was really funny and when I erased it and took it down everyone really missed it. So I started doing one every once and a while, and then I started getting more ideas and I started doing two at a time. Then we started posting them to our Instagram and our Facebook.
It’s gotten to the point where students will walk by and stop, pull their phone out, take a picture, and then keep moving.
Would you consider the Whiteboard your specialty medium for art?
Oh, absolutely, because I don’t do any other kind of art. I sketch it out with dry erase markers because they’re easier to erase, but I do most of it with chalk paint markers. It’s what they use at Whole Foods on their blackboards and it always looks so nice, so solid, and so pigmented with no streaks in it. It acts enough like regular paint that I can actually mix the colors and fingerpaint it on when I need other shades.
I did. I started out my university career as an art major. I didn’t stay an art major, but I started out that way.
What serves as your continued inspiration from week to week?
That’s hard to say. My inspiration is actually to entertain the students. That is my number one goal. Number two goal, to entertain the faculty and staff. But it’s most important to me that the students get it.
My weekly inspiration is whatever is going on in pop culture at that moment. If there’s nothing going on then I struggle a little bit and I go to the internet and I look at memes. I try to get them to match college life, university or exam week, or something like that. But mostly, I really, really want students to know that the Library is a fun place and I think this helps.
Is it weird for you that your art is so ephemeral? How emotional is it to wipe away a masterpiece?
It is. Especially the ones where I really surprised myself with getting a celebrity face just right. Eventually, it has to be erased to get a new one. You know what my favorites have been because I flip the board and I do a new one on the other side. But, some of them I don’t care. They were not big hits. They weren’t my favorite art and they can go anytime.
I think my favorite was the Jon Snow board.
What were some that might have been the most difficult?
I was trying to do a “Parks and Rec” one once. I wanted to do the Rob Lowe that was, “The ground floor is literally open.” Usually I can capture enough of the celebrity’s face so that people will actually know who it is, but it just kept coming up like David Duchovny. I think I spent two hours redrawing it and I just couldn’t spend any more time on it. Then one of the faculty up in the Studio said, “just make it an ‘X-Files’ board.’”
Do you ever take requests? If so, how can we submit?
You can always tweet us. You can always message our Facebook. Or, stop by and talk to me.
I have taken requests in the past. In fact, somebody tweeted the library over the summer wanting a Spongegar board. He actually started a Twitter campaign. He had his friends tweet us, “Please do this!” I’m really an internet savvy person, I’ve been a Redditor for eight years, and I keep up with these things, but I did not know what that meant. The hardest thing is, I don’t want to get the spirit of a meme wrong because there’s nothing less cool than getting a meme wrong. You will lose all of the students’ faith in you. You will lose all of your street cred for sure. So I researched and I threw some ideas at my student workers and they helped me. We tweeted it out and we tagged the requester.
Some of them are definitely the ideas of my student workers. Like when we pulled all of the carpet up, I was trying to think of a light-hearted way to address that. Because that’s what was going on after the flood, and one of my student workers, Zack, was like too bad you can’t tie in a “Big Lebowski” about the rug really pulling everything together, and I was like–that’s it! Big Lebowski Board.
Chapman suggests using a Meme Creator if you send ideas her way so that she can get a visual of what you want to see next time you stop by the library.
Check out a collection of some of our favorites in this Flickr album: