You should care, because They don’t

Corporate Memphis is the art style that big business has come to default to in recent years. It is characterized by its use of bright colors, flat geometric shapes, and patterns. When people are shown, they are typically depicted with bizarre proportions. They might have minuscule heads, huge bodies, and thick, noodle-like limbs, all things that leave them at a weird point in the uncanny valley.

This art style was first created by an L.A. and Brooklyn-based design firm named BUCK, for Facebook. Originally the style was coined as Alegria, which is Spanish for ‘joy’, but it goes by many names such as Corporate Memphis, Globo Homo, Big Tech Art, and Flat Art. The Corporate Memphis design approach can be seen everywhere online, both in advertising and in background banners for corporate websites. It is created with vector graphics for the convenience of quick turnarounds, unlimited scalability, and a vagueness to the graphics that can send a message, while not targeting anyone directly. 

I have created satirical recreations of famous paintings depicting grim scenes in the Corporate Memphis style to point out the soullessness of megacorporations like Google, Facebook, and Airbnb. I have made these iconoclastic works both to mirror these companies’ corruption of finer things through commodification, and to mock their attempt to create a perfectly neutral setting. 

I want to be able to create work that is amusing. I think that design can be as serious or as lighthearted as you want it to be. While I am capable of creating serious work and have plenty of ideas for pieces that require a serious tone, the whimsical, carefree ideas are so much more entertaining, especially because taking that lighthearted tone with the more serious works would diminish them. Art is wonderful as long as it can bring enjoyment to the viewer, whether that is through dumb fun or serious contemplation.

The Corporate Memphis art style is often used to create or display products that are designed to be sold, rather than to be appreciated for their artistic merit. This mindset is something that has come to encompass much of modern day life. Because a product is cheap, disposable, or mass produced doesn’t mean that it can’t be beautiful or at least humorous enough in its design that it brings people a little joy. It is important to be aware of the ways in which art is used, so that we can make better informed decisions about how we interact with it; especially when you consider that everything, at some level, was designed and has the potential to be its own form of art.