Let’s be honest, given the choice, most high school kids would choose school lunches over homemade lunches. But not David Laferriere’s kids Evan, 15, and Kenny, 14, because they’d miss out on their dad’s hand-drawn surprise lunch bags!
“I’ve been doing it for my kids since they were little,” the graphics designer, known as D Laferriere on Flickr, tells us in the accompanying video. “They love it and nothing makes me happier than hearing their reaction at the end of the day.”
David started making these decorative lunch bags back in May 2008. It all came about one morning in an attempt to do something special for his boys.
“It was just a way to have fun with the kids,” David says. “And also start my creative juices before work. I had already been making their lunches and I experimented with a few things.”
David first began using food coloring and tried to draw directly onto the bread. However, the bread was too rough and the process became too time consuming so dropped that idea. One morning he found a black Sharpie on his kitchen counter and wondered if it would wore. And, sure enough it did!
“At first it was just red and black markers,” David says. “Then I got more colors and got more creative. The Sharpies were great; how they adhere to the bag. I’d tried all sorts of things to make different pictures like using a napkin to smudge the ink or different forms of shading. It was fun!”
David’s ideas for the bags come from a wide variety of places. He owns many different animals at his home in Massachusetts, so he often draws his chickens, rabbits and dogs - sometimes having the animals doing human activities, like a duck going tubing.
“I’ve had cupcakes, birthday cakes, crazy fish with eyes and robots,” David says. “I’ve had ants and bugs crawling around on the bags. You name it, I’ve done it.”
Often times David will look at the bread and get inspiration from the bread bubbles. “I’ll draw a fish around the bubble as if he’s about to eat it. One of my kids’ favorites is using the bubble as hole a worm comes out of!”
David decided to post his pictures on Flickr because eventually the bags get thrown out. He wanted a way to have them around to look back on. “You figure 180 school days in a year, and times that by two, that’s 360 days,” he says. “And then you add on summer time when they’re going to soccer camp, it all adds up. It’s been almost five years now and it’s like 1,082 bags and counting!”
A few weeks after he began posting his pictures, David become overwhelmed with positive responses. He started getting contacts from people all over the world. “It was incredible,” he says, “I wasn’t expecting anyone to find them or look at them. I was just doing it for me and my kids. But all of a sudden I started getting views!”
In 2009, Sharpie contacted David and asked to feature his work on their blog. After that, different blogs reached out to him and the exposure he got was unstoppable.
“In November 2012, I probably I had 100,000 views, total in four years,” he says. “Then I started getting noticed more and more and in February of 2013, it got doubled to 600,000. It’s just incredible!”
Amidst all the attention, David says what means the most are the nostalgic comments he receives from viewers.
“The sandwich bags are something that my boys and I share together,” David says. “But the comments people leave about a parent doing something similar really touches me because there are other parents that love their kids - just as much. And they love them enough to leave a little note, a little whatever it may be...that’s just something that brightens their day when they get to their lunch.”
Visit David's photostream to see more of his photography.