Outside of “snow day” and “free cupcakes,” I’m not sure there are many pairs of words in the English language as wonderful as “happy monster.” It’s probably thanks to a childhood spent on Sesame Street, but there’s something about goofy, smiling monsters that just makes me grin. But I’m probably a poor acolyte of Grover and Elmo since a goofy, frowning monster has much the same effect. Fortunately, James O’Brien has both of those bases covered and, even better, in animated gif form. Plus, he offers plenty of portraiture, including of far less cuddly creatures: American politicians.
O’Brien is a freelance illustrator and the chair of the illustration department at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Many of O’Brien’s editorial and commercial illustrations have a weathered, retro feel, as if they actually came to us from the past. His happy and sad monster series takes that retro sensibility and adds a psychedelic playfulness. These odd little animations are the perfect bit of happiness to kickoff your weekend. And, if you need to be brought back to reality, scroll all the way down for his political sketches.
You can see O’Brien’s non-animated, non-political artwork at his portfolio site and his blog.