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Monday, August 24, 2009


1,000,000 Giraffes: Art Project Taking Over the Web

One million giraffes: the art project that is taking over the web

One man's attempt to collect a million hand-created giraffes to prove the power of the internet is on target – after the project caught the attention of Twitter and Facebook users



Giraffe by Dawndelver, 21, from Southampton
Giraffe by Dawndelver, 21, from Southampton Photo: One Million Giraffes
Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway
Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway Photo: One Million Giraffes
Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada
Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada Photo: One Million Giraffes

More than 130,000 giraffe drawings and models have already been submitted to by people inspired to take up their pencils and paintbrushes in the name of collaborative online art.

What started as an eccentric bet between two friends has grown into a minor web phenomena, with thousands of new giraffes posted on the website everyday.

The entries range from colourful children's scrawls to impressive watercolours, with a few arrangements of fruit and vegetables thrown in to boot.

The 24-year-old web designer who devised the website said that he has been overwhelmed by the response to his project, which grew out of a conversation with his friend Jørgen earlier this year about the creative potential of the web.

"We were just small-talking and discussed the Internet and how amazing it is. I proclaimed that anything is possible nowadays, there are no limits anymore, and said I could easily get one million of anything if I wanted to," Ola Helland, who lives in Stavanger, Norway, explained.

"Jørgen refused to agree with me and said there was no way I could get one million giraffes. So we made a bet.

"Two days later I made the website almost as a joke just to play around with the idea. I posted the link on my Facebook and Twitter account thinking I would get 10-15 giraffes from my friends and then it would just die off.

"I went out for lunch and when I came back I had 60 giraffes. By the end of the day I had 134. I started to realise that I had started something I immediately lost control over."

Under the rules of the bet all giraffes must be created by hand; any submissions drawn on computers or bought from shops are rejected.

Mr Helland says he is now confident of hitting one million by the bet deadline of the end of next year. He has amassed 134,227 in a little over two months, leaving 494 days to collect the remaining 865,773.

But what began as a "silly art project" had grown into something more meaningful, he said, showing how the internet could help spur traditional family activities and old-fashioned fun.

"It's become a way of spreading joy and to get people to turn off their televisions and creating something real," he said.

"I love getting emails from parents and grandparents telling stories of how they sat down with their kids and fooled around with crayons for a few hours.

"Drawing, laughing and sharing something real with the people around them really seems to bound people together."

Mr Helland is now appealing for readers to design their own giraffes to push him nearer the one million target.

As well as the pleasure of winning the bet ("I will mention this to Jørgen every single day for the rest of my life"), Mr Helland hopes that his whimsical project will do some concrete good.

He is trying to attract a corporate sponsor to donate £1 to the World Wildlife Fund for every picture submitted, with the money used to protect giraffes in the wild.



Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway

Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway Photo: One Million Giraffes



Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada

Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada Photo: One Million Giraffes




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