Joy, Found!

An interview with the anonymous creator of Found This Art
by Eleanor Spicer Rice

For the last three years, a radical has been operating in Raleigh, delivering secret messages in unlikely places, each with a mysterious symbol printed on the back, a hat-topped face with a mischievous smile. These missives show up in the form of tiny, original watercolor paintings, left for others to find and keep: a mushroom in a coffee shop, a dolphin in a museum… But what do they mean?

To the artist behind Found This Art, they offer a moment of joy, delivered to strangers around the world he’ll never meet. He prefers to remain anonymous, but we tracked him down to learn why he’s on this special mission.

You’ve left art in nearly 20 countries, but rarely see someone find it! What do you hope will happen?
A woman who worked at a hotel in Portugal once found a little seashell piece, done in soft reds and pinks. She wrote to me and told me that her mother used to call her “concha,” which means shell. This brought her joy. At its core, this is a project that I hope will cause people to pause and reflect, to feel thankful because they were in the right place at the right time. This translates directly to happiness, and perhaps will also help people pay it forward, even in small ways.

How is a small painting able to have an impact?
It can be a difficult world for so many, but art is an antidote. It’s about being human and appreciating what it means to be connected. If someone finds a piece, perhaps it changes their framing just a bit and has a positive effect in their world. Big things come from small ripples.

Why do you keep your identity a secret?
I don’t want to influence any part of this project with me as a real, three-dimensional person. It’s not about me; it’s about everyone else and the art. You and I will connect through the art that you hold in your hands, and that connection doesn’t require a name to be special. 

Keep an eye out for Found This Art pieces in Raleigh this month! If you find one, share it on Instagram and tag @foundthisart and @waltermagazine, or report it to


This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of WALTER magazine.