By Devlin Smith
Each year when the African Well Fund hosts the Build a Well for Bono’s Birthday fundraiser, donors are invited to leave their birthday wishes online. Those wishes and the total raised during the fundraiser are then collected into a card that is sent to Bono in care of Principle Management.
This year, $27,119.68 and 118 signatures were collected in honor of Bono’s birthday. That total included $1,545 raised in honor of Adam Clayton’s birthday through four online auctions. As in year’s past, AWF board member Lara Wineman created the card that was sent to Principle Management.
Wineman answered a few questions about the card she created this year and what inspires her Bono’s Birthday Well projects.
How did you come up with the concept for the two cards?
It is actually one card and an envelope. I’ve been very intrigued by envelopes lately because of the mystery of what they can potentially contain. Since the beginning of this fundraiser seven years ago, there have always been multiple pages of messages for Bono so I’ve always tried to come up with a way to contain them all inclusively but in a way someone (who we all know is very busy) would want to hold them and be intrigued enough to look at them. Last year I bound them into a book; the year before I created a keepsake box they were placed into; this year, an envelope.
As far as the visual concept, I very much used the inspiration that U2’s new album provides me. Their album art is very monotone and blends with “no horizons,” so I tried to play around with using grays/blacks/whites and making them all flow together in a peaceful yet abstract and textural way. I also wanted the card itself to flow in and/or out of the envelope. We also know how important the color red is to Bono, so I used that for accent.
Although “Breathe” is the song on the album that lifts me the most, the lyrics to “Magnificent” are undeniably optimistic, and as I reflect on the work AWF has done it is because of love, really, that has left a mark on the lives of people only a few of us will ever be lucky enough to meet. I wanted to make sure there were images of the work AWF has done since that is the whole reason for the fundraiser, AWF’s existence and the real “birthday present.”
How long did it take you to create both of them?
I always lose track of time when I create things. Usually I have four to five different projects going on at the same time because I use so much paint and glue in my work (which take drying time), so it’s impossible to discern how much each project takes individually. Also, creating is such a meditative process for me, I rarely even remember the specifics in creating most things. Overall, this project took three weeks for various reasons like vacation breaks, working 50 hours at my day job, etc.
What are the cards made out of?
Found objects and repurposing them (along with lyrics) inspire me the most. The envelope is from my office (the paint obscures any names and departments); there is a piece of screen my porch used to be made out of; the card is from chipboard pieces from various packaging; the key, heart and washer are from my junk drawer; and then spray paint in addition to acrylic paint and colored duct tape pull it all together. The stamp textures are found objects as well–corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap, caps from soda and pasta sauce jars.
The cards feature photos from the recent trip AWF board members took to Ghana. How did you select the photos you ended up using?
This was the absolute hardest part. There were so many amazing photos that tell amazing stories just by their images, but since I knew I could only feature a couple and not write lots of detail, I tried to find the photos that showcased the water project and the joy and celebration of the local villagers after receiving and using the gift. I am hoping the photos convey the joy that U2 and Bono fans from around the world contribute to every year in May.
What inspires you to take the time make these cards for Bono and AWF?
Obviously, I love to create and it is such an amazing honor that AWF appreciate[s] what I do and believe[s] in it enough to feel comfortable in letting it represent AWF and U2 fans. My family has always instilled in me since I could hold a crayon that the most special gifts are those that come from the heart and that are hand-created. It’s not such a stretch that Bono has been my hero since 1984 and has inspired me in so many ways, I think of him as a very important person in my life and thus am more than honored to be able to hand-make him a birthday card and believe that he may actually see and appreciate it. My only hope is that other Bono fans are proud to have their messages included in this and represented in such a way.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the cards?
Like many people these days, I am struggling financially, and I’d love to reiterate that helping AWF, or any other organization, does not always need to be in financial ways. I’ve worked with AWF since 2003 contributing more with my skills in graphics and web design than monetarily, and I know that this has helped in different ways. My opinion is no matter what your age, financial status, geography, there are ways to make the world a more humane place–even just passing along web links, telling people your story, making art … builds hope.
You can view the birthday card on AWF’s Flickr page. You can view the birthday messages here.
By Devlin Smith