Today is “I Want You to be Happy Day”, and I’m going to share a story about a special friend of mine whose name and life embodies what today is about: Happy the Artist.
Happy’s birth name was John Patrick Kuhn. I met him when I was working on special events at The Frog and the Redneck in Richmond, Virginia back in the mid 90’s. Over the years, Happy has told me a lot of stories that are as colorful as the clothes he wears. This one is two versions of how he got a different name.
JP Kuhn was walking through a park when he happened upon a woman sitting on a bench, sobbing. He was concerned and asked her if she was OK and if there was anything he could do for her. Her response was, “Just be happy for me.” JP promised her he would. Being a man of his word, JP legally changed his name to “Happy” in honor of that woman, and he has been Happy ever since.
JP Kuhn’s father’s art took his family all the way to Mexico in 1949 – JP was 7 years old at the time. His first name was James Patrick or ‘JP’ In Spanish ‘J’ is pronounced ‘HA’ and ‘P’ is pronounced ‘PAY,’ so he was called ‘HA-PAY’ by his Mexican playmates. Eventually he became ‘Happy’ and he’s been Happy ever since.
Today, Happy focuses on the creation of whimsical murals for private clients and businesses. He spreads joy through his art and is always ready with a hug. In his early career, Happy was a court illustrator in DC and covered the Watergate trials.
Happy has a great concept appropriate for events: he illustrates attendees having conversations on paper that wraps a room, then he cuts out the individual images and presents them to his “subjects”. Check him out at www.happytheartist.com.