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Local Artist Creates Coffee Cup Doodle Project for Charity

8-1-14

Erin Pedrini
Web Production Assistant

Mike Ciccotello with some of his coffee cups. Photo by Erin Pedrini.

“I was at my local coffee shop and I got home and I decided that I wanted to do an illustration of the train station. I started doodling on the cup and I ended up posting it and before I knew it I had a whole collection of them,” said Little Silver resident and artist Mike Ciccotello, who created the Coffee Cup Doodle Project.

The Coffee Cup Doodle Project came to be after Ciccotello started drawing on coffee cups. He said that after he had a collection of cups he wondered what he could do with them. “I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have a charity event with these? It started out with wanting one event but I changed my model,” said Ciccotello.

He said that instead of having his own charity event, he decided to donate the cups to non-profits so they could sell them at their events and 100 percent of the profits made from the cups would go directly to the charity.

Ciccotello is open to working with any charity organization, as opposed to only donating cups to one organization. He said, “I like helping people and I don’t want to be thinking of only one platform. I would like to be doing a lot of little things because then it allows me that if a friend gets sick and there is a fundraiser, I’m not tied to only working with one charity. So I can pledge cups to any fundraiser. I like using art to help people. I think it’s a good way to reach out and get in touch with the community.”

Some of the cups also tell different stories that Ciccotello has come up with. By looking at the cups and using your imagination, a story can be seen from all angles of the cups.

“I have a lot of ideas and I think this is a good platform for the story. I want to tell a story, have a little fun and do something good too. I like the bright colors because it makes people happy and I like imaginative things because I think it makes people kind of zone out and forget about all the hardship they may have right now,” said Ciccotello. “So it is about having positive colors, positive ideas and imagination.”

Ciccotello said that he uses mechanical pencils, ink, alcohol markers and colored pencils when drawing on the cups and he said he has also tried using watercolor. When the art on the cup is complete, Ciccotello puts the cup on a wooden base and adds a coffee cup lid. He coats the cup with a spray first so different materials do not run and then he covers the cups in a clear high gloss acrylic varnish which may vary based on the material used to create the artwork.

A completed coffee cup titled “Good Morning Sunshine.” Photo by Erin Pedrini.

He said that how long it takes to make one of the cups varies based on the image. He said one may take 30 minutes but another may take six hours. “Each level of detail brings in more time. I don’t set a time limit but I won’t spend three days on one either. One of the purposes of when I started the project was I wanted to be drawing regularly and producing work regularly,” he said. “I chose to do it on a coffee cup instead of a sketch pad because it is a little different and interesting. Drawing on a cup, there is a certain way that I hold it and I keep turning it and flipping it. It’s different on a curved surface. It changes the imagery because of the curved surface based on how you hold the cup.”

Ciccotello said that the most rewarding part of the project is knowing that he can help people and knowing that the proceeds from the cups are going to go toward charities. He said that it is fun to see the interaction online when he post images. “Knowing that this is going to be translated into help and hope, that is even cooler. That makes me happy. Hopefully in a year from now I will have worked with so many different organizations and charities that I will be able to turn around and say that I did some good,” said Ciccotello.

He said that he is copywriting each of these images and also intends to have a store where he can sell cups. That way he can have a business side and a charity side to his work. He said it may be a while before he gets to the business side because he would have to pick specific cups to print but it’s in the works but he is not rushing to get there.

Ciccotello said that at this point he is happy doing the project and starting to help people through his art.

Ciccotello said that he posts daily on his Coffee Cup Doodle Project website with galleries containing images of the cups and he also posts blog posts.

The first charity that Ciccotello will be donating 20 cups to is Navesink Business Group, which is raising money for businesses and organizations that were directly hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ten of the cups will be based off New Jersey shore towns including Seaside Heights, Belmar, Union Beach, Long Branch, Manasquan, Atlantic Highlands, Keansburg and Brick. The event, Waves of Support: The Taste of Broadway on the Promenade, will be held Sept. 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank. Tickets can be purchased here.

Some of the coffee cup designs that were based off of New Jersey towns. From left to right: Little Silver, Seaside Heights, Union Becah, Belmar, Manasquan, Atlantic Highlands, Long Branch, New Brunswick, Brick, Keansburg. Photo by Erin Pedrini.