(Q&A with JP Costello and Erin Guido of So Fun Studio)
What services does your business provide?
So Fun Studio is an interactive design collaborative that creates joyful and lighthearted public art and products.
How did you get your training?
So Fun is a collaboration between two artists, Erin Guido and John Paul Costello.
Erin studied printmaking at Indiana University and urban planning at University of Michigan. She is currently a project manager at LAND studio, a public art and public space nonprofit in Cleveland. She is also a mural artist and has multiple works up around town.
John Paul started in the trades with a metal fabrication company and then worked as a carpenter. He now has his own design and fabrication business and works on everything from residential and commercial furniture to more unique jobs, such as a custom bamboo motorcycle seat or a twenty person foosball table. He is a self-trained artist and creates wooden sculptures.
Tell about some interesting projects that you’ve worked on.
We collaborated on an interactive art show at the Akron Art Museum called Please Touch in spring 2016. After we completed that show, we formalized So Fun Studio because we knew we wanted to create more interactive art works together. It made us so happy to watch museum goers have fun touching, changing, and playing with the art work. The world needs more moments of joy!
TODAY I FEEL, a kinetic artwork with wheels that spin freely from one another, is probably the most successful installation from Please Touch. The sculpture is roughly 6’x6’x6′ and made of 15 wheels, each with 30 sections of hand-painted alphabet and punctuation. Users can display their “feelings” by moving the wheels and changing the text. Currently, TODAY I FEEL is on display at the Cleveland Public Library.
Since Please Touch, we have participated in gallery shows and created art work for public events. For example, DANCING MACHINE is a full-scale teeter totter with characters attached to gears that “dance” as you teet and tott. It was on display at the Ohio City Street Festival and Gordon Square’s Hip2BeSquare outdoor summer event.
Most recently, we built I HAVE MANY, a 4’x35′ interactive billboard installed on a building rooftop at 78th Street Studios for the 2018 CAN Triennial, a curated contemporary art festival featuring artists from Northeast Ohio. From the ground, people can pull cords that are connected to one of four indexing gears to change the displayed words. There are 256 different versions of the artwork depending which combination of words in the sentence the user selects.
What materials do you use?
The recent interactive artworks are constructed from Baltic Birch Plywood for the main body, along with wooden gears or indexing pins. We also use metal, plastics, or off-the-shelf materials, like bicycle gears, when necessary for different moving parts. We normally use acrylic paint or exterior house paint for the added graphics, lettering, and illustration.
Do you have employees/collaborators or work alone?
So Fun Studio is the two of us, although John Paul’s father has majorly helped many times with construction and installation when time is crunched. Our friends also have helped multiple times with painting the pieces. We are lucky to have so much support!
What is the mission of So Fun Studio?
We aim to use art and design to bring moments of joy, humor, and imagination to anyone and everyone!
I understand that you are HGR customers. How did you find out about HGR Industrial Surplus?
Word of mouth from other artists and builders. We remember first walking into the facility and the feeling of excitement, like a kid in a candy store.
What kinds of items have you purchased at HGR Industrial Surplus, and how have you used them?
A few metal carts and a table or two along with miscellaneous little odds and ends that sparked our interest. We currently are on the hunt for a metal lathe and mill; so, we will be back in soon!
What inspires you?
Erin is inspired by street art, pop-up books, playgrounds, walking around cities, and anything that is colorful and happy. John Paul is inspired by nature, cityscapes, abandoned buildings, Whirligigs, and practically anything else with some sort of motor.