Many years ago I developed an obsession with brand mascots: cute, easily recognizable characters that convey the personality of a brand or product, adding a relatable warmth.

The history of North American commercial illustration is filled with examples of characters being used to advertise everything from breakfast cereals & snack cakes to household services & gasoline, peaking in the 1950’s & 60’s.

While the mascot concept is alive and well in other parts of the world, the use of illustration in western advertising has declined steadily in favor of photography and graphic design, and the brand mascot has slowly faded away – an idea I intend to do my best to keep alive, at least in spirit.

Fat Bear 24 Hour Convenience is an imaginary place. It is open 24 hours, conveniently located, and has a huge variety of drinks and snacks of all sorts. Day or night, there is plenty of room to sit and enjoy a quick tasty bite with your friends.

Casting myself in the role of both the designer and the imaginary client, I’ve created a gang of brand characters featured in a set of hand-pulled screen prints and functional re-usable shopping bags.

This colorful collection serves as my ode to a lost slice of advertising history, as well as a challenge: Why can’t this really exist today?

Pete Ellison

Pete Ellison is a multi-disciplinary artist, with a practice based in illustration and design. His bold and colorful graphic characters remix the cartoons, arcade games, and breakfast cereals of the 80’s and 90’s into something that’s both retro and timeless. With frequent nods to underground subcultures, Pete’s art is playful celebration of pop culture visual excess and queer joy.

Utilizing equal parts digital and analog mediums, Pete’s body of work includes screen printed apparel, limited edition art prints, original paintings, murals, installations, merchandise design and interactive digital projects.

Pete’s past projects include art & music for the quirky retro-inspired game “Breakforcist Battle” for Nintendo Switch, an award winning collaboration with Pocky, and band merch for artists like The Doubleclicks and Bloodcode. As the organizer of the popular pop-up market series ARTMART, Pete uses DIY tactics to create a space where Toronto’s up and coming illustrators can sell their work directly to the public. When not making art in his studio, you can find him behind the decks DJing at queer dance parties.