A series of 16 magnets for the forward thinking fridge. Sold in Urban Outfitters and other gift stores
Concept, copywriting, illustration, Design
Project Partner: Marcy Sue Freedman
Copy from the original FRIGGIN one-sheet:
• FRIGGIN MAGNETS speak to an eager populace hungry for fridge and auto decor with more individual appeal than a magnetic clump of garlic or the plumber’s magnetic business card.
• FRIGGIN MAGNETS are for folks with an intelligent sense of humor, or for folks willing to overlook their own comedy shortcomings and buy them as gifts for friends.
• FRIGGIN MAGNETS are cartoony, colorful and funny and most have a hidden or not so hidden social agenda. On first inspection the Barfing Frog appears to be yet another gross product aimed at the youthful humor of tots and teens. It is, but it also reminds the kids that frogs, when provided with a poison environment will “toss their cookies”.
Meet a few of the cast:
• MR. POOP IN-A-BOX- “I stink!” announces MR. POOP as he pops out of the box! “Sure you stink”, we remind him, “Yer MR.POOP. Yer supposed to stink!” Nuff said.
• DRIED BARF BEARD KIT- What could be more fun than a cast rubber DRIED BARF BEARD, complete with realistic chunks and left-over food, to strap over your ears and to wear to school? Nothing we can think of! Easy to assemble, dishwasher safe!
• COMING OUT CARTOONS- set of 3; The Plunger, The Toaster & The Duck; “We’re Queer! We’re Cartoons! Get used to it!” Experts say 10% of humans are gay. We figure the same % exists in the cartoon community, if not more! The climate is finally right for cartoons to express their true sexuality openly and freely to their relatives and to the cartoon enjoying community at large. We at FRIGGIN want to offer them a warm welcome and hope that our outing a few cartoons won’t affect their professional careers.
Goal: An attempt to inject pop-culture with overt behavioral prompts. Clearly, important groups of our society have always been egregiously neglected when it comes to magnet decorations for the fridge. The precursor to Vinnie’s Tampon Cases in terms of work-shopping social justice consumer products.
The initial idea for these were a set of cardboard cutout figurines I had designed of members of a fictitious charter group of the Crips gang. The neighborhood I was living in at the time was patrolled by a local gang with red as their color. Ten blocks away, near my brother’s apartment was the blue gang. The kids growing up in the neighborhood were very aware of the violent presence of this gang. There were shootings often enough and the not uncommon taped off corner with a bodybagged youth. My intention was to create a contemporary substitute for the plastic ARMY SOLDIER figurines still on sale at every corner market. The kids in our hood no longer relate to military figurines and no longer use war games to workshop their aggression and heroism.
Inner city gang culture hyped on the news and in contemporary music is the new standard bearer for the gun-toting avenger/protector. That being the case, and always on the lookout to keep our culture up to speed I embarked on creating figurines that reflected this transition.
My first attempt were cut-out cardboard Crips gang members, about the size of the traditional plastic army figurines. I painted them, put them in a velo bag, added a decorative label and showed em to my brother Gus. Gus liked them but said their weakness was that they didn’t do anything. Plastic figurines at least stand up and can be staged around a couch. Gus suggested making them into fridge magnets
I had remembered a friend telling me about the guy who invented MAGNETIC POETRY having friends come over and cut words out for his sample sets using sticky-back magnet material. With a little research I found a magnetic sheeting company in town and was able to buy industrial size rolls of 4mm adhesive magnet material. I made color copies of my LOCAL STREET GANG characters and adhered to the magnet material. Then, with a pair of regular house scissors I cut carefully around the shape and- blam! a magnetic cottage industry was born.
The first two sets were MY LOCAL STREET GANG and PREGNANT TEENS:
These first two sets were clearly not ready for prime time retail, but I felt obligated to start the ball rolling. I decided to make the colors of MY LOCAL STREET GANG green & yellow so as to not engage the local turf war. Note: this was 1994, four years before David Gonzales came out with his genius HOMIES line of plastic figurines loosely based on Chicano culture and sold in vending machines.
The response among my friends was positive and the magnetic sheeting was oddly satisfying to cut with scissors so I kept the groove going. The first series of what I now called FRIGGIN MAGNETS® included POT SMOKING TEENS ON HOPPITY HORSES, HONEST COPS (featured in MIGHT, Dave Eggers first magazine), WOMEN KICKING WOULD BE RAPISTS IN THE NUTS and WOMEN TIRED OF TAKING MEN’S SHIT.
Not long after I partnered with LA artist Marcy Freedman to expand the FRIGGIN line with the hopes of landing the FRIGS into stores. We started by weeding out the sets that seemed least likely to make it onto any store shelves (PREG TEENS, LOCAL STREET GANG, POT SMOKING TEENS), but the thought that any of the sets would be welcomed with a warm embrace spotlighted our naivete about the retail market.
To our credit, we did land the FRIGS in Urban Outfitters and into a decent list of stores across the US and Japan, but pushing magnets with any political underpinning was a serious uphill battle- no matter how cute the gay plunger is.