When the Huffington Post ran a 2011 story titled “Arrested Development,” character Tobias Fünke Gets Ben & Jerry’s Flavor, “fans of the popular sitcom and iconic ice cream brand alike went nuts.
An exclusive pint boasts a cropped image of Funky, notably played by David Cross, along with bold lettering showcasing the official flavor of ice cream: “I’m Only Blue Psycho.” As for its actual makeup, the frozen treat promised a blueberry-flavored base with swirls of rich chocolate and chopped white chocolate. Very tasty, isn’t it?
Well, there was only one problem with the big announcement. It was all fake.
The Huffington Post story encouraged readers to click through to learn more about the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor from Fünke and provided a link to the Vulture story, which showed an enlarged image of a bowl of ice cream. Aside from the classic Ben & Jerry’s typography, ice cream was clearly a quack…Come on now, what in the world is there White chocolate pieces?
Turns out, the ice cream artwork was made by John DeVrist — a creative director, graphic designer, and digital illustrator from Boston, Massachusetts — who has gained fame online for his collection of fake Ben & Jerry’s flavors. In addition to Funky’s “I Just Blue Myself,” there’s Ron Swanson’s “All of the Bacon & Eggs You Have,” Dwight Schrute’s “Beet It,” Boba Fett’s Carbonite Crunch, and Dexter Morgan’s “Miami Slice.”
DeVrist explained in a recent interview with Salon Food. “So as I got older, when art became part of my full-time job, I started to opt out of some of the extra resources on TV.”
He continued, “You see a lot of ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The Office’ and other things that I was interested in at the time, I was saying about 10 years ago. I was just starting to mix graphic design with references from pop culture.” to TV and TV personalities and I did a few spots here and there that I was working on at the time that didn’t exist anymore.”
In the mid-2000s, Ben & Jerry’s artwork was a popular sight on social media, specifically on Tumblr, where illustrations—from hand-drawn cartoon styles to western and cartoonish realism—were quick to attract major fan bases. Defreest maintained that his Ben & Jerry creations weren’t unique in themselves, but they certainly demonstrated his love of comedy and the art of parody. Both of Defreest’s creations pay tribute to his appreciation for pop culture, good television, and good ice cream.
He said, “I love comedy. So if I wasn’t into art for a living, I’d do something like write comedy because those are just my two favorite things – design and comedy.” “I don’t do a lot of serious artwork. I like to weave comedy into my artwork.”
Making Defreest’s Ben & Jerry’s art takes time, patience, and great attention to detail. Defreest said the easiest parts were finding stock photos of his chosen characters and manually recreating the Ben & Jerry logo, which could then be created as copy-and-paste templates. However, the hardest and most time consuming part is making the bottom of each pint look like the real deal.
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“But the fun part is the details, the little things that you hope people don’t notice right away and hope they pick up,” DeVrist added. “I always like to hide something in my art to at least give it some extra dimension than just the main event… Something in there is like a little hidden joke or something hidden that people can appreciate.”
Defreest hasn’t been updating his Ben & Jerry’s collection lately, especially after settling down with his wife and four-year-old daughter. But if he were to create a new faux ice cream flavor, it would surely focus on the Netflix anthology TV series “Black Mirror” – his latest obsession,
These days, Defreest is moving away from digital art and creating more tangible pieces, like wall art. In the same vein as his previous work, his mural art is also inspired by pop culture and popular TV shows. His proudest creation is his daughter’s “Bluey” art.
“I don’t do (art) much commercially anymore,” said DeVrist. “I still make art inspired by television. I don’t think I’ll ever escape from it.”
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