Disruptively cute

Wipe out the monotony from any day by practicing wanton acts of cuteness.

Pop Ink soap design ... making puppies happy.

Pop Ink soap design ... making puppies happy.

CSA Images has been cranking out retro-meets-modern designs for quite a while, and their Pop Ink division specializes in the sweet end of the spectrum. They play with strange animal illustrations and fuse them with practical objects like soap and wrapping paper, thus sparing us the embarrassment of owning a figurine collection.

Thanks to their plates, you can have a side of nostalgic whimsy every time you serve a meal. Styles feature ’60s-era silhouettes, paper dolls and animals. The “cannibal kingdom” napkins show a demented side to their twee, frolicking animals.

Their books are more syrupy. Happy Kitty Bunny Pony, subtitled “a saccharine mouthful of super cute,” explores America’s fascination with all things precious and includes plenty of turn-of-the-century and Depression-era kitties, bunnies and ponies. Pop Ink seems to capture the ridiculousness of these images, but also the joy. They respect the cute, deconstruct it and twist in one impishly deft swoop. You’ll be happy to know they have a new line of memo pads, too, which have a more sophisticated feel.

The popular blog Cute Overload is like a reality show version of Pop Ink’s sensibility. You can enjoy the photos of animals that designer Megan Frost posts each day because you think they’re seriously adorable or because you can’t quite stop yourself from looking or because you think the downfall of civilization is upon us – or you can experience all these perspectives at once.

I know the cuteness seems gratuitous, but here’s my point: Find some little thing that makes you happy, and invite it into your life. The everyday mundane can lull us into forgetting we’re the ones in charge of how we feel in any given moment – and not the rude person at work or the crazy drivers on the road. These bursts of cuteness are extreme enough to disrupt the banality.

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