A Genuine Haha product could be for anyone, sure, but what makes the experience of Genuine Haha’s greeting cards, art prints, and enamel pins so unique is how the maker behind it, Tony Bui, targets sentiments so specific that when someone finds, say, the right Genuine Haha greeting card, there is a feeling that it is saying exactly what the person had intended to say all along.
“I was told I was really clever with writing Facebook birthday messages,” says Bui, who is based out of Milpitas and started Genuine Haha in 2012. This makes so much sense. Bui, a tremendously talented illustrator, boasts characters and styles booming with both in-your-face cuteness and smirking mischief—a combination of sentiments pitch-perfectly likable in the age of social media. His designs are endearing with an edge of “LOL.”
From this comes some magical and hilarious stuff. On one card, a super cute, little, young bird doing a kickflip on its skateboard says, “Sup. You got old. Happy bday.” This alone would be wonderful, but the signature Genuine Haha moment actually comes when the card is opened. Inside it says, “Just kidding you aren’t that old, I hope you…” Then, the sender is given the following options to check off: “Have a great day,” “Celebrate it with some awesome people,” “Make some memories that will last a lifetime,” and “Don’t get arrested.”
“Finding a refreshing way to write an old-age message (such as ‘Happy Birthday’) or doing a new take on something illustrative that no one has seen is particularly challenging,” Bui says. “But it is the part of the process that I enjoy the most because it will make the product stand out.” Ultimately, it’s this that makes Bui such an exciting maker to follow. People end up feeling like they’re following Genuine Haha not just for the products, but for Bui’s creativity, craft, and sense of humor, which could ultimately thrive as anything—not just greeting cards or art prints or enamel pins.
That being said, in the near future, Bui plans to reinforce his connection to the Bay Area with an art print and a sticker based on San Francisco’s Karl the Fog. “I think I found a really clever way to draw him as a character that no one has attempted,” Bui says. “Hopefully, it will help me gain a more local appeal with being a recognizable Bay Area brand.”
Written by Kevin Biggers of SJMADE
Photography by Daniel Garcia