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Who Is the Artist Known as Onlyjoke?

Who Is the Artist Known as Onlyjoke?

Chilean artist Camilo “Onlyjoke” Huinca renders a flat world through oversized sculptures, quizzical flowerpots, and two-dimensional paintings. By design, his figures are color-blocked rather than shaded. 

He seeks to communicate as clearly as possible using as little as possible. For him, it works. But what led this Santiago-born artist to create art that takes a page from Keith Haring’s book? 

We’re breaking down the language barrier and exploring the diverse portfolio of Camilo “Onlyjoke” Huinca.

Let’s jump in!

The Story of Camilo Huinca

Born in Santiago, Chile, Camilo Huinca experiences the world from atop his skateboard. At thirteen, when he first started skating, this mode of transportation and self-expression gave him a unique perspective. 

Seeing the world at the street level exposed him to graffiti, political posters, and people. And each of these elements finds its way into his creations. Equal parts illustrator and graphic designer, Onlyjoke produces work you cannot misunderstand. 

In the 1970s, Cuban and Swedish dissidents created posters bearing messages banned by their governments. Artists used flat colors and black lines to communicate vital information and pass under the radar. 

Even though Huinca is much younger than this movement, he’s taken up the mantle of the style. His graphic designs and posters are unmistakable. Unafraid of a challenge, the constraints he places on his art encourage creativity. 

Onlyjoke has morphed his painting and murals into objects through his online store. There, you’ll find clothing and accessories, all with the unmistakable hand of Huinca. Since 2018 he’s released a new collection of limited-release items. Stationary, flower pots, hats, puzzles, and planners fill his shop with simple dots and his signature figures. 

Now living in Santiago, Onlyjoke travels around the world installing murals. Rather than join his comrades in illegal graffiti, he works by commission and permission. Drawing on the legacy of Chilean muralist Ramona Parra, his focus on communication makes his art comfortable and accessible. If you can’t understand it, Onlyjoke hasn’t done his job. 

What Inspires Onlyjoke?

Onlyjoke’s inspiration comes from what he sees around him. You’ll see scenes from his daily commute, skating, faites (Chilean skate punks), political figures, and people smoking in his art. Working in analog first, he usually scans drawings from his notebook into his computer to digitize them. 

His inspiration comes from artists like Ramona Parra and Keith Haring. He seeks to create a style that communicates with few tools and colors. “I am interested in identifying people’s behavior, portraying activities, intimate moments, body gestures, disfiguring objects, and reducing the amount of detail in a composition.” 

What Are Some of Onlyjoke’s Art Pieces?

Onlyjoke’s style makes his work instantly recognizable. He’s created for companies such as Apple, WeTransfer, Puma, Warby Parker, and many others. These are just a few of our favorites.

Morning Woman

Recently, Onlyjoke started creating large, inflatable versions of his art. Morning Woman began as a sketch and then a painting before becoming a 3D figure. The 16-foot-tall piece sat atop a building in Parque Arauco in 2021. 

Featuring his signature style, including a green nose, the figure sat watching the world go by for a month. Huinca captured the curiosity of the city in simple colors. 

Truman Show

You’ll catch the reference here if you’ve seen the film The Truman Show. But if you haven’t, the film explores the life of a man who grows up not knowing he’s on TV every week. His whole world is curated and planned. 

He finds a way out of his bubble, though, and experiences the world anew. In Huinca’s painting, the figure looks out of a light blue wall and takes in the world outside. His face shows little emotion, but it seems as though he’s disappointed. 

How to Talk to Kids About Racism

The adage that “racism isn’t born, it’s taught” is the focus of this powerful piece. Commissioned by The Atlantic in the upheaval of the summer of 2020, it centers on children. Linked arm in arm, five children of different ethnic backgrounds look inward, away from the violence outside. Prominent in the piece are images of police and police brutality. 

Explaining to children the inequity in the system is a heartbreaking reality. Huinca tries to capture the message in How to Talk to Kids About Racism. 

What Other Products Does Onlyjoke Create?

Besides prints and large-scale sculptures, Onlyjoke creates objects you’ll want to get your hands on. He has a line of sweaters, scarves, socks, posters, and picnic blankets. He also creates puzzles, t-shirts, notebooks, planners, and flower pots. Looking through his online shop, you’ll want to buy one of everything. They exude comfort and functionality. 

The sweaters look like the uniform his figures appear in; circles on monochrome backgrounds. T-shirts feature paintings by the artist, and scarves have a swirling motif and the artist’s moniker. His puzzles are a delight featuring his work in elegant round cylinders. 

One of our favorite pieces is the flowerpots. They have an almost Olmec style to them that makes them at once modern and timeless. Of course, you can purchase prints, but the daily-use objects are some of our favorites. 

Where Can I See Some of Onlyjoke’s Art?

Huinca’s art appears all over Santiago in murals and shops. Beyond that, his Instagram page is the best place to find his work. Although he hasn’t updated it since December 2021, it houses over 800 posts. You’ll see into his process and view some of the more unique installations he’s created over the years. 

Aside from Instagram, Onlyjoke’s website also has an excellent collection of his art. You’ll get a glimpse of his brick-and-mortar store inside Parque Arauco and a chance to purchase his unique pieces. 

We Get Onlyjoke

Steeped in the tradition of Haring and Chilean protest art, Camilo “Onlyjoke” Huinca ensures you get “it.” Not interested in communicating lofty ideas, he creates poignant and straightforward art. We love his bold use of color and line in service of the message. 

And the message? That art is all around us, in every moment of life. If we stop long enough to appreciate it, we’ll see it too.

Outside Folk Gallery

You can explore more folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans. 

We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!

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