Hello Kilroy
May 2005
Kilroy Was Here / Hello Kitty
kilroy_was_here
Before we get to the actual piece that we designed for this project, we first want to explain something about our main inspiration. Shown above is a poster that we didn't design, but that is a part of our poster collection. It's a screenprint we bought a few years ago through E-Bay, depicting a typical 'Kilroy'. Drawn in 1971 by Jerry Berman, issued by the 'Kilroy Was Here Manufacturing Co.', and distributed by a company called 'Synergisms' (all based in San Francisco), the poster begs the question: how hippie can you get?

Kilroy is a fascinating phenomenon. During World War II, the line 'Kilroy Was Here' started to appear everywhere, often accompanied by the well-known drawing. Nobody is sure who the original Kilroy was, but it became a sport amongst soldiers to be the first to place this drawing wherever they arrived, claiming that 'Kilroy had already been there'.
The joke spread to the civilian world, and remained popular throughout the fifties. It was known all over the world: as 'Foo' in Australia, 'mr Chad' in Britain, and 'Overby' in Canada. During the 1960's, Kilroy remained an icon. By this time Kilroy's military dimension was replaced by an aura of counter culture.
There are countless conspiracy theories and urban myths surrounding Kilroy. Our favourite one takes place during the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. For the duration of this meeting, an outdoor toilet was built, for use exclusively by Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. The first of the three to utilize this facility was Stalin. When he came back, he asked the others, 'Just who is this Kilroy?' Once again, Kilroy had already been there.

After this introduction, we can now explain the actual project: In April 2005, we were asked by AllRightsReserved and Sanrio Co. Ltd. to contribute to the Nakayoku Project, an exhibition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hello Kitty. The theme of this exhibition was 'Hide & Seek'.

So why do we participate in this sort of projects? We sometimes wonder about that ourselves. It's a show in Hong Kong we'll never see, organized by people (friendly people, by the way) that we don't know, revolving around a character that is basically a twin of the Dutch 'Nijntje' (Miffy)... What exactly is the attraction? We can't really explain this. Part of it has to do with the fact that, around that time, we felt slightly depressed. So we hoped a light-hearted assignment, such as this one, would cheer us up.
Also, we liked the absurdity of it all. We can remember an interview we once read, a long time ago, in which Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth described the feeling of being featured in heavy metal magazines as "the sensation of being shot into a pinball machine". That's a little bit the feeling we have when we're working on bizarre assignments such as this one: like being shot into a pinball machine.

Anyway. Since the theme was 'Hide & Seek', we thought it was a good idea to refer to the classic 'Kilroy Was Here' poster. So we designed a poster (shown below) in which we synthesized Kilroy and Kitty, and printed and framed it in exactly the same dimensions as the original poster that we have in our collection.
Coincidentally, around the same time, we designed another piece based on another poster in our collection (the Semiotic Liberation Army banner, see The Free Library).
experimental_jetset_hello_kilroy
Related links: Hide and Seek, AllRightsReserved

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