It Starts with Sharpie

Sharpie has been awarded the prestigious 2012 TED Award for “Ads Worth Spreading” for Sharpie Squad member Cheeming Boey’s inspiring video of how he started with Sharpie. The “Coffee Cup to Canvas” commercial tells the story of Cheeming Boey, a young California-based illustrator who grew up on a Malaysian bird farm and has found minor fame in the U.S. art world for his Sharpie illustrations on styrofoam cups. The spot is one of four videos starring quirky Sharpie users, who use the implements as tools of self-expression. The other three are Erica Domesek, who uses a Sharpie fabric marker to turn a pencil case into a purse; Mark Rivard, who creates custom skateboard designs with Sharpies; and Marirose Weldon, a singer-songwriter who writes her lyrics in Sharpie Liquid Pencil.

Cheeming Boey in It Starts with Sharpie commercial

The It Starts with Sharpie campaign includes new packaging and a newly redesigned website at, which showcases the work of Boey and others in the “Sharpie Squad.” The site encouraged fans to send in their own Sharpie-produced artwork for a chance to be featured on the YouTube homepage when Sharpie took it over for the entire day on Aug. 27.

It Starts with Sharpie Coffee Cup to Canvas print ad

Click on the image below to play Coffee Cup to Canvas video.

D.I.Y. Queen Erica Domesek of P.S.–I MADE THIS…, uses STAINED BY SHARPIE™ to create endless D.I.Y. fashion possibilities. Click on the image below to play Plain Jane to Stained.

Skateboard artists Mark Rivard carries Sharpie Minis and his inspiration with him. He uses the Mini to create each one-of-a-kind design, right there on the board. Click on the image below to play Skateboard to Billboard

Emmy Star Brown, a salvaged window artist who takes other people’s discarded treasures and gives them new life with our new Metallic markers (NEW Gold and Bronze colors joining Silver)! Click on the image below to play Skateboard to Billboard.


The It Starts with Sharpie campaign was developed at Draftfcb, Chicago, by creative director Gigi Carroll, copywriter Troy Burrows, digital creative director Nat Jones, and producer Kelly Durham.

Filming was shot by director Shal Ngo via Macula Films, New York.

Music was produced at Found Objects.