The sun will come up…

Emma Nortje/ Contributing PhotographerEmma Nortje/ Contributing Photographer

Emma Nortje


The negativity flowing around Georgia College’s YikYak birthed the creation of Sunrise, the college’s beloved anonymous chalker. Whether he writes an uplifting quote or draws a vibrant image, Sunrise chalks for people –  he chalks to make them feel and embrace happiness. The Colonnade followed Sunrise on one of his weekly chalking escapades to discover the intent behind his creations.

colonnade: So why the name Sunrise?

sunrise: There’s a lot of meaning to Sunrise. Oh god, well first of all, I go out on Thursday nights, and I chalk until the sun rises. But, most of what I do is centered around trying to make people feel better and just giving some positivity. I was on YikYak, and I saw all the posts are just such negative, depressing things, so I was like, ‘Alright someone’s gotta’ do something. Someone’s gotta’ contribute something positive at least to this college.’ So, that’s kind of why I started doing that. I posted on YikYak, I took requests, and I just went out all night and I chalked, and it’s just become this thing that I do. The main symbol is like no matter what, no matter how miserable life seems, just life sucks right? Like, we all know. I’m taking like three studio art classes right now. I am drowning in work all the time, so it’s hard. No matter what though, there’s always going to be another day. The earth keeps spinning; the sun keeps rising. No matter how bad it seems, eventually, if you just stick with it, it’s not always going to be bad forever.

colonnade: How did you get started doing the chalk drawings?

sunrise: Actually, I’d never worked in chalk before I started doing this. This is my first time. I was just like, I feel like doing art, and I feel like taking requests, doing something, contributing something, and so what I do is, I post on YikYak, and I ask people to request whatever they want and where they want it, And chalk was just the best medium to do it — to leave it so that everyone can enjoy it. It just seemed logical to me.

colonnade: What is you inspiration for the drawings?

sunrise: People. I love people. I hate people, but I really love people. That’s kind of what it is. It’s like it’s all about loving people, so people inspire me more than anything I guess –just humanity as a whole.

colonnade: Have you heard any feedback on your drawings?

sunrise: Yeah, yeah. People post on YikYak all the time. Sometimes people will stop me in the middle of chalking. It’s nice. Anytime anyone makes any kind of comment it always just warms my heart; it makes me very excited.

colonnade: What kind of stuff have you heard?

sunrise: It’s just like people really appreciate it. It feels like people really notice it. It’s like people will be having a terrible day and then they’ll see a chalk drawing with a message like ‘don’t give up’ or something, and they just tell me that it makes their day, and that makes me so happy. If I can just get one person to feel that way, that’s all that matters.

colonnade: Why did you choose to do it anonymously?

sunrise: If it’s a person doing it, it just kind of feels like someone’s doing it just to try to get noticed or be popular, and really, that’s not the point. The point is to create a piece of art that kind of generates – it’s like that humanity concept, just like the overall mass of people. We all have a little bit of Sunrise in us; we all want to contribute something nice, and so you don’t know who it is. It could be me, it could be you, it could be your neighbor — someone wants you to be happy. There’s someone in the world who wants you to have a nice day, and you lose that if it’s just an individual.

colonnade: Which has been your favorite drawing that you’ve done?

sunrise: Oooh, that’s a good question. I like to pick drawings that have meaning, and so one of the first drawings I did. Some girl said that if I did a butterfly, like I don’t know what a butterfly symbolized to her, that’s not really important because she said that if she saw that, that she would cry. She posted later, ‘You made me cry,’ and I was like, ‘I’m sorry! I didn’t want you to cry. It’s supposed to make you happy!’ So that was really nice – just in terms of execution. I really like the girl with the fairy in front of A&S. That was a fun one to draw because I really like mixing colors like that.

colonnade: Is there anything you want to say anything to your fans?

sunrise: I have fans? That’s crazy. I don’t know. It’s kind of amazing though. Sometimes you look and you see how many people just walk over it. It’s OK. It’s chalk art; it’s meant to be walked on. I love it when people walk on it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. It’s just interesting to me. It’s like, so many people just walk past it without looking at it or noticing it because they’re in such a hurry. And it’s like just chill. Sit back, relax and look at the art. Look at the world around you. Everything is beautiful. I don’t know. I try to attach a message to every single drawing I do, specifically geared towards the person who requested it. Like usually, I’ll do the drawing with someone in mind, but each message I really mean it, and I really would like people to just sit down and not just look at it, but read it, just think about it, you know? Step back and just enjoy their lives a little bit.

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