By day, he’s an animator for an ad agency in Seattle. But outside of his 9-to-5 job, he’s “Sunday Nobody,” a pseudonymous artist whose grandly absurd projects aim to delight a young, internet-savvy audience, using the kind of cultural touchstones that make for overnight virality.
In fact, you may have already seen a TikTok in which the 28-year-old documented his latest work. Over two short days, it has accumulated 10 million views and rapturous praise. “This might be the best way to describe our generation,” one commenter writes. “Bro’s gonna be in future history classes,” predicts another. There’s no doubt about it: Sunday Nobody has arrived.
What piece of his could have inspired such awe? Well, on the one hand, it’s not merely an object — it’s a process and experience. It’s the commitment to executing a vision and maneuvering around every obstacle en route. The short answer, however, is that Sunday constructed and buried a 3,000-pound concrete sarcophagus, in which he buried a single bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. On the site, he planted a marker that reads, “Historical artifact buried below. Do not open for 10,000 years. Year buried 2022.”
In a FaceTime interview with Rolling Stone, Sunday — who prefers to keep his artistic and civilian identities separate — says he had been volunteering with a tool lending library when he got the idea of creating a workshop of his own. Last year, he “randomly convinced some friends to rent a commercial truck bay that we turned into an art studio.” The renovations, which took some five months, are recorded in his very first TikTok.
Afterward, he soon realized he had to find ways to make use of the new space. “I have a Google Doc that’s really long, hundreds of little notes,” he says. “As soon as I think of a dumb idea, no matter how dumb it is, I force myself to write it down.” Because inspiration can strike at 2 a.m., it’s sometimes difficult to interpret his own notes, but he rattles off a couple, including a “big monument of a horse riding a man,” conceived as a parody of historical statues depicting men on horseback. Other jottings are totally devoid of context, reading simply “chicken organ” or “Guy Fieri.”
“I try to keep my audience really small,” Sunday says, meaning he doesn’t start out thinking in terms of broad appeal, as it’s “overwhelming.” Instead, he asks himself what his two brothers and close friends might find funny and builds on that: “Do the stuff that would make them laugh.”
Among his past successes, Sunday has programmed a robot to write out the entire text of the movie Shrek on a giant sheet of paper, framing it as a “21st Century Religious Manuscript.” He’s shipped another huge, meticulously framed canvas titled A True National Treasure to a randomly selected Museum of Modern Art director. It’s totally blank except for a small QR code that, when scanned, pulls up a clip from the Nicolas Cage movie National Treasure. This summer, Sunday painted a huge maze to post in a park where passersby could try to solve it — unaware that the only way out was to draw the protagonist from the animated film Bee Movie.
As you can tell, Sunday is a believer in art for art’s sake. “The first thing everyone asks is ‘Why?‘” he says, brushing the question off as a fundamental misunderstanding of his practice. The obvious answer is: ‘Why not?’ And, somewhat in the tradition of Pop Art, he loves to use the canon of enduring meme references to activate an instinctual response in millennial and Gen Z viewers.
Sunday laughingly cites an expression most famously attributed to Isaac Newton — “standing on the shoulders of giants” — to describe what he’s doing. “I kinda cheat a little bit by using the meme significance and ‘millennial’ significance of these objects,” he says. “It allows people to connect with it, having a preexisting connection to these things,” much as Andy Warhol’s iconic portraits of Marylin Monroe took for granted the observer’s familiarity with her face.
This brings us back to the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the ridiculous tomb inscribed with their ingredients, now awaiting discovery by whatever civilization may occupy the Pacific Northwest millennia from now. Sunday chose the beloved snack for its ubiquity in the American consciousness — just this year, Megan Thee Stallion released a song, “Flamin’ Hottie,” promoting the product. But Sunday, who spent a total of $1,250 on the sarcophagus stunt, not counting tools or the four months of labor, was sure to state in his video that he had no sponsorship deal, nor was Frito-Lay aware of the project.
But the Cheetos team at Frito-Lay, itself a division of PepsiCo, is more than happy with the monument. “Cheetos fans never cease to amaze us with their love for the brand, but this one really wowed us,” a representative tells Rolling Stone. “It’s an honorable mission to preserve Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for future generations, and we are here for it.”
“I have never done a sponsored post or any sort of corporate integration,” Sunday says, noting that there’s “such a difference between doing something like this for fun and doing it for Frito-Lay. Internet natives are really adept at picking up when they’re being sold to. It makes me, personally, and a lot of other people shut off. I’m not trying to sell you anything or influence you, there’s no interior motive.”
Luckily, Sunday didn’t need a corporate backer, just a team of devoted friends all willing to lend a hand. He also had help from the couple who allowed him to use their private land after he put out a call on Instagram for a place to bury something, parenthetically clarifying that it was “not a body.” The two were fans of his earlier pieces and excited to take part in this venture when he pitched it — Sunday credits them as “MVPs,” not least for the use of their tractor when shoveling proved too arduous.
The exact location of the sarcophagus remains a mystery, and while Sunday likes to design elaborate scavenger hunts, he won’t be dropping any more hints about how to pinpoint the burial site. So the many commenters claiming they’ll track down the spot and dig up the Cheetos have their work cut out for them. And Sunday has one more insurance policy. “You’ve seen Pirates of the Caribbean?” he asks. “There’s a curse on those Cheetos, like the one on that pirate gold.”
Indeed, it’s not only the selection of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the unduly massive scale of construction that make his “historical artifact” so funny — it’s how Sunday has taken an item of everyday convenience and hidden it in a tantalizingly inaccessible place. He’s now ruminating on how to achieve a similar effect with his next project. “It’s bean-related, that’s all I’ll say,” he hints with a mischievous smile.
Whatever it is, it promises to have no practical value whatsoever. That’s the Sunday Nobody guarantee. “A project without a purpose or a point,” he says, “somehow has the most purity.”
This story has been updated to include comment from the Cheetos brand.