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Happiness is...

Ralph Lazar and Lisa Swerling, creators of the popular Happiness Is illustrations on Facebook, talk about how the Happy Page have turned everyday joy into an international phenomenon. Did you know that the idea for their illustrations was born in a jacuzzi?

brunch Updated: Sep 21, 2014 12:48 IST
Junisha Dama
Junisha Dama
Hindustan Times you’ve seen them, little stick figures and simple drawings celebrating the happiness found in little moments. They’re all over Facebook, shared by someone you know, featuring someone you know, or capturing a happy moment you’ve experienced yourself. The Happy Page, by illustrators Ralph Lazar and Lisa Swerling, draws (quite literally) from user-submitted ideas and have turned everyday joys into an international phenomenon.

Now, with thousands of submissions coming from all over the world, a special Indian edition of their 500 best-loved illustrations, and a themed bed and bath range by Portico New York, the creators of Happiness Is talk success, simplicity and spreading the love.

Starting out

Lazar and Swerling, South African artists who moved to North California four years ago, say the idea for their illustrations was born in a jacuzzi! They were in a hot tub, casually chatting, when the idea of illustrating user-submitted ideas of happiness popped into Swerling’s head. Submissions arrived, and a month later, The Happy Page went viral. They were posting illustrations every hour.

A good number of submissions come from India. "Unlike those from the rest of the world which often tend to relate to indulgences, the Indian ones tend to relate to family values, friendship and relationships, which is incredibly inspiring," say the artists over email. Having spent the summer in Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala, they believe India has impacted their work strongly: "If aloo paratha is not an inspiring way to start the day, then what is?" good

How does happiness fare in a Web full of trolls, haters and abuse? "The Happy Page has been a great counterbalance to the negativity, and it thrives because people are hungry for the positive stuff," say Lazar and Swerling. Their formula is to keep it simple and relatable, staying away from politics. Some of their most popular illustrations have been the most minimalist: walking barefoot on grass, loving and being loved or a family photo.

The artists believe that happier people are nicer to others and both hope that sharing positive illustrations on Facebook makes people nicer. And they’re too happy to stop now. Apart from 10 pages on Facebook featuring different projects, they have a new series: "I wish…" which illustrates wishes sent in by users.

For fans, one wish has already been granted: "You’ll be seeing a lot more of us."

From HT Brunch, September 21

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First Published: Sep 19, 2014 18:59 IST