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October 19, 2009


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Love it!

Michelle Schrad

Great! Although, the 20 cent paper towel doesn't look like it's a better deal than buying 2 10 cent paper towels...


love them..l thought l was the only mad person who did things like this! l would love to see your past stuff from Flicker ect. it maybe old stuff to you but it is new to me!!!!lynda

barry eagan

you're so clever. OMG you're so clever, I bet you get all the girls.


Good stuff. I like the sampler just to get you hooked. Thumbs up


this is going to sound harsh, but i mean this to be constructive: i wholeheartedly support public art, but that's exactly why i can't stand this. it lacks artistic substance. the paper towels were a good idea, but your actual drawings are cute, unoriginal, and, seems at best to elicit a chuckle and an eye-roll, far from any real emotions. the sad-adorable faces, the contrived jokes, the lame captions- its cheap and contrived, and i could see something like this mass produced and put on hallmark cards or something. it's not art, it's kitsch. i'm not trying to be mean. this kind of stuff really disturbs me and i had to let you know. the paper towel idea was good, but you could have taken the opportunity to really do something expressive. that's my opinion.


i totally agree with zaker !! i like the idea...it's funny...but the design it self is unoriginal!
Sorry i m telling this ...i just felt like supporting good constuctive comments like that..i think we all need them to improve ourselves!


Love them. When we go on vacation I have fun writing "I touched this" on the sheets in the roll of toilet paper. Immature I know, but it makes me laugh.

Marc Johns

Thanks for your comments everyone!
Zaker, thanks for keeping your criticism constructive. I created these paper towel drawings two years ago, and looking at them now I can certainly see there is room to do much more with the concept. I must also say that it was very hard to draw on these - there was no hard surface for me to press on, so I could not go into too much detail. But that wasn't the point anyway. The idea was to keep it simple, amusing, and hopefully connect with people. It's hard to say that about most public art.


I think they're awesome.

To keep everything fair, I'd love to see zaker & tartatoura link to some of their own work (whatever form it may take: art, civic planning, philosophy, doesn't matter) and you can offer up some constructive criticism for them.


Criticism is great. It's necessary. And whether it's spot on or a little off, it is always constructive.

That said, I want to weigh in from the positive criticism side.
I think Mark's work is fantastic. It does appear simple. But to say that the actual drawings lack real emotion, have lame captions, are unoriginal etc is a bit of a stretch...to put it lightly. They appear simple. They aren't.

I think this is a tactic to reel in the audience, right. You have a graphically pleasing, straightforward image that catches someone's attention...but inside, those images hold really subtle themes that are open for interpretation...or misinterpretation.

I think that open-endedness results in successful drawings. Different individuals bring different emotions and meanings to the drawings. So the drawings work on many different levels with many different types of people. The drawings become what the viewer needs them to be.

And as for unoriginal, I don't know anyone with poetic one-liners or puntastic drawings like Mark Johns.

I think the current work is charming, witty, biting, sarcastic, funny, painful, smart, and beautifully made.
I think the paper towels were clever, and kudos to an artist for paying close enough attention to his surroundings to notice and then use paper towels.
Plus, these paper towels work differently than the drawings on paper...I have an inkling the paper towels were made more in fun exploration. Just a way to lightheartedly add a little somethin' somethin' to someone's day.

Well, that's enough seriousness for one comment thread, wouldn't you say?

I agree. ; )


HAHA these are awesome I love them. I really like the "hello did I surprise you" one. It's great!

Marc Johns

debra, you bring up a good point!
_kt, thank you for your truly thoughtful assessment of my work. You understand more than just the surface level. And yes, the paper towel drawings were made as part of a fun exploration, and do not exactly possess the layers of meaning and interpretation I try to maintain in most of my work. (So sue me!)
Thanks for your support!


I see these as little social experiments as much as pieces of art. When someone walks in and sees something like this it changes their day. It changes their frame of mind - and that sets of a chain of events that cannot be known. I like just thinking about it.


these have long been some of my fav works - I think they're funny as can be. kinda like paper versions of Improv Everywhere events. As opposed to some other commenters, I don't feel that everything in life has to be erudite to have value. in fact, I think there's more value in simple happiness - and these surely provide that for me.

as for the backup stuff... there's a voxer who's developed a vox backup tool. can't link it directly to libraries yet, and it only imports to another blog, but it's a start. i'll try to let you know when he finally let's it go live (I was a beta tester). If nothing else, you can keep a backup of all your vox stuff in files and do something with it later


based on this series, i wonder what sort of comments would come from the trash series


These are fun and brought smile to my face. I would love to come upon these in my daily life. I would especially love it if my 4 year old son saw them. He would probably talk about them for weeks after.
So, to zaker and tartatourta, there's constructive criticism and there is missing the point. I don't think Marc Johns was trying to comment on the Holocaust or the current state of US health care. I think he was trying to bring joy and whimsy to everyday life.
In that respect, if "this kind of stuff really disturbs" you and it's "lacks artistic substance" bothers you, I can't imagine what you expect from non paper towel and marker artwork. My advise,zaker and tartatourta, is for you to get a cup of tea or a beer,sit on a porch and watch a sunset. Or remain standing to allow the bug an easier exit.


Criticism is a waste of time. I second debra who wants to see some of zaker & tartatoura's work (also, @chazwiz, BOOM!)

From Ratatouille (yeah, I know - but it's a good quote):

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

Not that these are a piece of junk, obviously.

In fact, they're totally awesome and inspired and if I walked into a bathroom or a kitchen and saw stuff like this it would make my day.

Oh, hey, check this out: if I stumble on them on the internet, they make my day.

How 'bout that?


haha this is way rad!


I really like the idea. Good old thinking on your feet.


haha wow. i love this.

Gareth Coxon - Dot Design

Excellent work, I hope people keep them when they find them and don't dry and bin them, great stuff.


this is what banksy would do when he's in toilet.

Amanda J

i wholeheartedly agree with kt. i agree with zaker on the fact that the faces are indeed adorable :) i see your work as something very simple, but at the same time not completely. i think that a lot of your pieces have a message, and some are just simple and make me smile. they're witty, charming, cute, honest. to me, at least. i think the paper towl idea is a neat one. i really enjoy experimenting artistically and doodling on everything BUT canvas. i would be so pleased and content to walk into a bathroom and see this :)

blackberry battery

Very funny work!! enjoyed here. Thanks for this interesting post.


Here's the thing... Zaker is totally right, looking at this from an artistic point of view... But on the on other hand, I don't believe you posted this to be some brilliant artistic statement, it's just a fun gesture! This isn't an art show everyone, it's a website!

wall mount paper towel holder

.., lol.. this is so cute.. you can surely see the creativity in it.. the use of paper towel holder is really advisable...

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  • Marc Johns makes drawings and puts them on this blog, and sometimes he makes them for people like National Geographic, Google, Wired, Newsweek, Tommy Hilfiger, and Harper Collins. He has a book called I MADE THESE DRAWINGS FOR YOU. Many of his fans have tattoos of his drawings.

    He lives with his wife Kristen, two sons, and his drawer full of pens in Victoria, BC, Canada. Marc also finds it strange to talk about himself in the third person.
    Read more

    All images © 2015 Marc Johns. All Rights Reserved.

    You may blog my work, but always link back to this site (www.marcjohns.com). Please DO NOT remove my signature from them. And please don't put more than 5 images in one blog post without permission. Send your readers here to see more. Thanks!

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