Business Town! – where innocent illustration meets piercing insight into the digital economy

Thanks to Jeroen, we got to know this hilarious comical series. It’s hard not to roll on the floor laughing with ‘Business Town’ by Tony Ruth, a creative director at a Chicago design firm. Every drawing captures precisely the digital economy where most of us inhabit nowadays.

Using metaphorical animals, Tony Ruth fleshes out the irony and paradoxical portraits of some of the most common official and unofficial job titles. It ranges from Conversation Manager, Brogrammers, Patent Troll to Intrapreneur. The accompanying caption of each drawing is priceless and some are just pure gold. They started out explaining the tools, then moved on to adding content and killer punch lines to the whole piece. We can’t help but seeing ourselves (or somebody we know) more than once in those archetypal depiction. Triple bottom line strategies (profit, people, planet)? Building internal startups within established organizations? Blackmailing vulnerable startups? Aligning brand values with consumer beliefs? Hell yes!

In high contrast to the sarcastic content, Tony Ruth uses a friendly illustration style that makes everything quite approachable (and can even catch you off guard). It’s inspired by the children’s picture books by Richard Scarry. Scarry himself had a famous series called ‘Busytown’, whose inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals in their daily jobs. It was the time when jobs were tangible and you could tell what people did by the tools they used. Not any more. Digital tools blur the lines and we’re figuring out the master plan for everything, while trapping ourselves in some baffling states along the way as the animals in ‘Business Town’ do. And why animals, you ask?

“It never worked out illustrating human jobs, so I ended up illustrating animal jobs instead,” Tony Ruth shared. “People don’t have strong opinions about hedgehogs.”

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