Since 2015, American designer and illustrator Tad Carpenter has taken time every Sunday to create artwork based on the sun. Now, he's taken his passion project to the next level with a limited edition run of vinyl sun statues to brighten up people's lives.
For Tad Carpenter, the sun is something of a personal logo. We've previously seen how he's made a book out of his sun-related artworks, but to round off 2023, he's made the leap from paper to vinyl by creating a series of gorgeous statuettes.
Following the trend set by his previous sun creations, these statues are a numbered entry in his series (443 to be specific). Standing at nine-inches tall, the figures are split into 100 full-colour versions, 25 super limited edition black versions, and a single, ultra-rare one in a red livery.
"This is something I have wanted to design for a long time," Tad tells Creative Boom. "I love creating artefacts or objects that people might bring into their home, and this is an example of that."
Making these figures has benefited Tad as well as being beautiful in and of themselves. "Truth be told, I have always felt the most at peace with myself when making something," he explains. "I love the feeling of getting totally lost in the act of creating something that didn't exist the day before. I suppose this Sunday Suns project is very much a reflection of that.
"I also co-run a brand studio called Carpenter Collective. As many designers can agree, over time, the daily rejection and scrutiny we all encounter in a world dictated by economic success can take a toll on us sensitive little artists. I love making things for myself that I hope others will enjoy, bring into their lives and ultimately spark a little joy."
When it comes to why he settled on the sun as a subject, Tad reveals that it's because it acts as a vessel he could pour meaning into each and every Sunday. "If I am sad or ready to celebrate a holiday, I allow the sun to speak to those feelings," he says.
"As a graphic designer, a big part of my career is making things for others. My Sunday Suns project began with a very simple rule: make a sun every Sunday for yourself. Draw, sculpt, design, or whatever, just make something and share it.
"With my series, I wanted to create a platform for making something for no one else but myself. I wanted that platform to give me space and permission to play, practice and ultimately explore what visual communication means to me. I wanted it to be an exercise in exploration first and foremost."
On top of this, the Sunday Suns series also allowed Tad to examine his own personal process and find ways to improve it. "But in the end, like all art and design practices, these Sunday Suns' true purpose might just be to better the lives of the people who view them," he adds. "In these uncertain and troubling times, I hope these little suns are a little ray of sunshine for anyone who sees them each and every Sunday."
Speaking of troubled times, Tad admits that 2023 has been a tough one. Having set up his studio during the 2008 recession, it's something of a surprise to learn that the last twelve months have been one of the most difficult on record. However, he's not the only designer to have felt this.
"I speak to many studio owners who echo that sentiment," he says. "But with those challenges, it has allowed us to focus and crystalise on what is successful. We have amazing clients and get to do amazing work, and this year has made me even more grateful for this.
"Specifically, this year, we branded several new cannabis clients, a new and fun arena to work in. We designed several new restaurants in New York City, which we are elated about. We have created packaging for coffee, hot sauce, beer and books. We have established special relationships with new clients and reconnected with the past."
Taking a step back from work, though, Tad says that his four-year-old son has been the real ray of sunshine that has seen him through. "My wife and I watching him and seeing him grow and explore is by far the highlight of 2023."
This positivity shines through Tad even outside of his Sunday Suns series. On X, formerly known as Twitter, he acts as a constantly uplifting presence, which ties into his desire to make people smile. "We are not on this spinning rock very long, and we should try to help one another when we can," he says.
"It's hard to be a human. We have so many emotions and challenges we are all dealing with daily. I have always felt that at its core, design and art's purpose is to help improve the human experience."
Despite being a slow year across the board for creatives, Tad admits he is "reluctantly optimistic" for 2024. "The turn of the calendar to a new year always brings optimism," he concludes.
"I am hopeful more new businesses are forming; companies are ready to spend and reposition themselves. We will see. I look forward to more opportunities like this Sunday Sun 443 figure I made. A year to explore."
For more Sunday Suns goodness, check out the full project here.
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