Paul Loya Gallery


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What is cool?The way the word gets used in modern culture is vastly different than how Merriam Webster defines it. To me, it’s about what we want, but ultimately can’t have. It’s the now, but already past its prime. It’s the new and instantly famous. It’s changing history a little bit and calling it our own. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling, the gluten-free, fruit-punch-flavored hooch we’re fed to make us feel like we belong to something bigger.And it’s ever evolving, just like us.

To only wear the motorcycle jacket of originality is good enough (for most). And, this brings up an important question: “Which came first? The motorcycle or the motorcycle jacket?” In the seventh grade, someone told me James Dean is cool. Another person insisted it was Kurt Cobain; another said it was River Phoenix. It’s difficult to gauge what premise we were going off—except to say that all three wore the jacket and had some elusive quality. There’s the idea of an untimely death, the idea of living fast and dying young.

And then, like a six-alarm fire, coolness spreads and popularity is the thing. Growing up, to have a Nirvana poster taped in your bedroom was a symbol that you “got it,” that you were kind of… cool. And let’s not kid ourselves, being cool is very American, just like the stars and stripes. This all could be a form of brand loyalty.

As an artist, I’ve given a lot of thought on how we consume cool. If I had to choose a new-old American symbol based on aesthetics alone, it would probably be the insignia of the classic behemoth brand of Coca-Cola, which has been around since the late 19th century when it was originally intended as a patent medicine. And think about it—Americans have been consuming the drink in small and large doses as if it is, indeed, a medicine that they just gotta have. The Georgia-based company has become a constantly evolving brand that sees itself capturing the zeitgeist of not just one lifestyle, but every lifestyle.

Everyone has tried Coke, from politicians to gutter punks. It’s a staple in being American, and ideally everyone wants to be American whether they like it or not. So, I’ve been distributing bumper stickers that read, “Consume Cool” in classic Coca-Cola font. It’s more of an ongoing project that really started on the Internet, but found its way in real life. The actual concept for Consume Cool was to try and run with the big dogs in the idea of branding by using one of, if not the most popular, branding identities in the world. In these modern days, people aren’t drawn to something that is interesting; they’re drawn to something that is identifiable. And to get someone’s attention, use what they already know and can relate to in a popular sense.

In the artwork here, I plastered the bumper sticker on a bong—as American as a frat party, as recognizable as a mumblecore indie flick, as cool as the next trend.