Tumblr “Vent Art”

In Tumblr’s high times before the adult content ban forced away most of its users (fun fact, I am quoted by name as a “furby enthusiast” in Vox Media’s article covering the debacle), there existed a form of “art” – one can argue about whether or not it actually was – on the site that I’ve never actually seen replicated anywhere else. Site users would create blogs dedicated to them getting over/coping with childhood trauma and would create what was called vent art. Vent art as a concept is not unique to Tumblr, but the form of vent art they would create was. It was simple: they would take a black-and-white coloring book page, or use MS Paint/other childhood paint computer programs, or somehow involve child media vector, and in big font over the image would write something related to how much pain they were in. Like so:

I can’t help but feel like – well, know like – there is an application for this in poetry. Like taking a children’s coloring book and writing poetry inside of the margins of the art. Or layering photography into your poetry. There’s something so raw and uncomfortable about this artwork because you know it’s genuine and real; someone is using it to come to terms with something horrible that happened to them as a child. And there is a poetry in it – changing the placement of words, the font that is used, the background that is set. What do you think?

One Reply to “Tumblr “Vent Art””

  1. I would love to see how you apply this in poetry! I wonder what the order of operations would be. Find the “childhood item” and then write about it or write a poem and then transcribe it onto the “childhood item?”

    I think it’s fair to say that our childhoods affect us as people and as poets. Personally, a lot of my poetry comes from memories that I usually access through songs. I think that this “childhood item” is sort of like songs. These items are safes that keep our memories inside them. It would be a really interesting writing exercise if everyone brought in a “childhood item,” and then we wrote about/on it!

    Something else I find incredibly shocking about these images is that they are sad but also sweet. They aren’t raw pain, but rather a sugar-coated slap to the face. There is an innocence in these images that is juxtaposed with the text. I think that using these “childhood items” is a great way to create that specific feeling! It’s easy to just write depressing things, writing something that is full of pain but also drenched in honey seems like it would be much harder. If you do choose to try this, I hope you’ll share the end result with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.