Sydney-based typographer, hand-letterer and illustrator Gemma O’Brien is no stranger to travel both on and off paper, having worked for clients on a national level like Woolworths and Taronga Zoo and as international as The New York Times, while also finding time to speak on the design circuit as far abroad as Typo in Berlin to Field Trip in Sydney and at Semi-Permanent conferences around the nation. In order to capitalise on the time spent and usually wasted in long-haul transit, O’Brien launched The Spew Bag Challenge, an endeavour she describes as thus:  

“A year ago I was flying to Wellington to get on a ship to Antarctica. I was bored on the plane so I drew Fully Sick. I posted it online and it was a real hit. The Spew Bag Challenge was born. Every time I flew I thought of a puke based pun. There was Queasy Lover, Bile High Club and Uptown Hurl. By the middle of the year I had monopoly over the sick bag art industry so I opened it up to the world to participate in the challenge. The rules are simple: think of a puke pun, draw it on the plane, leave the bag in the seat. Check out #spewbagchallenge on Instagram to see some other crackers: Pukeahontas, Days of Chunder, Spew Lagoon, Retch for the Stars, Foodrise Kingdom, Forrest Chunks.”

Having cornered the market for pop-culture based puking puns artfully printed on paper, O’Brien’s turbulent typographic work is now being featured in an exhibition consisting of 26 impressive puke bags, opening Thursday November 28th from 6-9pm and continuing until December 3rd at Pop Up Gallery at UNM, located at 118 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. Fans of O’Brien’s typography, tactical spews and puns alike, we asked Gemma to tell us a little bit about some of her favourite pieces soon to be on display in You Make Me Sick ahead of opening night.

Fully Sick
This was first of the spew bag series created almost exactly a year ago. I was flying from Sydney to Wellington bound for Antarctica for three weeks!

Queasy like Sunday Morning 

This was a long hung over flight back from New York to Sydney in June.

Uptown Hurl 

I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne to speak at agIdeas Design Conference, channeling Billy Joel for this one.

Land of the Rising Lunch and Harajuku Hurls

These bags were done to and from my trip to Japan in May.

My Name is Hurl and Puke Nukem 

These guys were created flying from Sydney to Perth and back for my first solo show at the Fremantle Art Centre.

Pukes of Hazzard 

Flying back from Auckland to Sydney for a Brancott Estate wine launch.

Halley’s Vomit and License to Ill 

Both were done within 24 hours between a trip from Sydney to Melbourne for a Jacky Winter Group party.

Chuck Chuck Boom 

I was flying from Brisbane to Sydney. I was inspired by the terrible 2009 internet sensation, the Chk Chk Boom girl.

You can check out more of Gemma’s work at spewbagchallenge.tumblr.com, including pop culture stalwart Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse (pictured above; Sydney to Canberra), and contribute to the project yourself next time you fly by thinking of a puke-based pun, bringing it to life in-flight and leaving it tucked away for the next unfortunate flyer who feels the need to heave. Don’t forget – how could you? – to hashtag #spewbagchallenge and check out the thread on Instagram – there are at the time of writing some 111 posts from sick doodlers around the world.