Nathan Wyburn is famous for making art out of food—the young Welsh pop artist has created portraits of Simon Cowell, using only white toast covered with Marmite, and of Lady Gaga, using only sugar.
Now, he is working with ketchup to immortalize everyday people. In fact, as of last Thursday, Wyburn has been perched inside a pop-up art studio in the middle of downtown Helsinki’s Narinkkatori Square, producing saucy portraits for eight to ten hours a day.
Anyone strolling through Narinkkatori Square can observe Wyburn’s ketchup stylings through the glass-faced front of his temporary workspace. There is also a live feed of the artist at work that can be accessed through Felix’s Facebook page.
Masterminded by Helsinki-based creative agency hasan & partners, the public art project, which will continue through March 21, is being performed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Finland’s Felix ketchup. "The brand is part of people’s everyday lives, so we had to do something that allowed people to be a part of the promotion," said hasan & partners creative director Mikael Nemeschansky of the stunt.
Wyburn’s subjects are being chosen from submissions to Felix’s Facebook fan page. "There were a lot of pictures that we can’t use because there are standards," Nemeschansky notes, explaining, "He works on contrast, so if the picture doesn’t have contrast, or it’s the wrong angle, or it’s too dark, or too light, we can’t use it."
The goal is for the artist to complete as many as 10 portraits a day, although Wyburn only completed six on the first day of the project. "It’s very time consuming because he really paints in detail," Nemeschansky says. "That’s why his work is so amazing."
Felix Facebook fans lucky enough to have their photos chosen for interpretation by Wyburn will find an image of the finished product posted on their Facebook timeline. They will also receive a time-lapse video documenting the artistic process. There are no plans to send the actual works of art to the subjects, although Nemeschansky notes that anyone willing to travel to Narinkkatori Square to receive their portrait is welcome to have it.
The promotion marks the first time Felix has ventured into the social media space. Until now, the venerable brand, which is a new client for hasan & partners, has relied on traditional media like television commercials and print ads. "Because previously Felix hasn’t done anything in social media, we decided this would be a good moment to step forward and create something that will be remembered for the next 50 years," Nemeschansky said.