An art-lover whose used a mobile phone app to make ‘miserable’ faces in classical portraits SMILE has sparked a new trend worldwide.
Olly Gibbs, 27, used the facial recognition feature on his mobile phone to digitally alter the historical masterpieces at a world-famous museum.
The graphic designer said his versions of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ art held at the renowned Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam made them look less “miserable”.
Olly, who is scared of heights, said the facial expressions on the classical paintings and sculptures had reminded him of his own face when he had recently climbed a hill.
He has now added unnaturally toothy grins to Rembrandt’s self-portrait as the Apostle Paul and the bust of key Dutch politician Johan de Witt by Artus Quellinus.
His photos went viral and saw museum goers across the world use the app and post smiling versions of the Mona Lisa and the Girl with the Pearl earring on Twitter.
Olly said: “I went to an old church tower in Amsterdam.
“Me and my girlfriend climbed to the top of it and it was quite windy and I get vertigo quite badly.
“We took a photo and she looked great but I didn’t. She said don’t worry and pressed a button and the FaceApp did it straight away and I looked really genuinely happy.
“I just saw the paintings and thought they all looked quite miserable, they looked like me at the top of the tower.
“I thought, ‘yeah I can fix that’. We were like children in the museum.”
They hunted for the sternest masterpieces to make smile and made up fictional stories to explain the “before and after” pictures.
Olly likened his work to respected animator Tony Gillingham’s comic cartoons for Monty Python.
“The photos did it scarily well for a free app and after that first one I said this is brilliant,” he said.
“We wanted some kind of strong contrast in a way.
“She actually told me, ‘I wish you could go viral with this’.
“It felt like what we were doing was a cheap way of giving them new life – I felt like Tony Gillingham.
“It just changes the whole aspect of the art, it was interesting to try and do it and when we did with a sculpture it worked.
“You realise that a lot of these things don’t have smiles, I guess the sitters have to sit there for a long time!”
Olly said he was surprised when his photos went viral after posting them on Twitter, adding: “It’s nice that it’s happened for something that was quite fun and bring more smiles to people’s faces and hopefully gets more people going to museums.
“As an artist myself I go there to be inspired.”
Olly saw his Twitter photos of digital-edited photos of Star Wars covers go viral after he replaced the faces of starring actors with controversial alien Jar Jar Binks.
He said: “The Star Wars ones were fun because I know people in Lucas Film saw it but this feels more natural and it has a goodness about it.
“It might even inspire museums as a way to get more people to come.
“Imagine what the possibilities are with other technology.
“It would be exciting to see what other’s can come up with.”
The film buff hoped to next use the FaceApp on his mobile phone in a 100km charity walk with two friends from London to Brighton next weekend.
He said he was raising £1,000 for specialised guide dogs charity Dogs for Good and the trio will act and read out the entire script of Jurassic Park over the 24 hour challenge.
He support his fundraising visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/OllyGibbs