The Pink Painter © Vincent Bal

5 Witty Artists to Follow During the Pandemic
COVID-19 blues have seeped into our lives. How do we maintain our sanity when we all have to keep distance from one another during this pandemic? Let’s meet five witty, cheerful artists who are helping to add warmth to our everyday life.
Christoph Niemann

Night Snack, Sunday Sketch, offset print, 2019 © Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann: Imagining Through Trivia
Christoph Niemann, the German illustrator and children’s book author, depicts his trivia from everyday life. And he lets his imagination spreads its wings and fly through them. Water drops become bubble wrap, and a hammer becomes a football player’s kick. Two straight lines drawn by a highlighter evoke a scene from a < Star Wars > film. A smartphone screen turns into an empty refrigerator. Niemann never lets anything pass by, even if it’s something perfectly ordinary. He transforms the familiar into the new, which in turn leads to another familiar view.
Christoph Niemann

Bubble Wrap, Sunday Sketch, offset print, 2019 © Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann

World Cup, Sunday Sketch, offset print, 2019 © Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann

Light Sabers, Sunday Sketch, offset print, 2019 © Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann

Gorilla, Sunday Sketch, offset print, 2019 © Christoph Niemann

Where does his unique perspective come from?
“I get inspired from everything I encounter in daily life — interactions with people and things, the books I read, the TV I watch, the art I see,” he said. “The only question I ask myself is: is this a peculiar personal experience (like an insider joke with one of my children), or is it an interaction somebody else might be able to relate to (like the experience of riding the subway). I try to create art that is based on experiences I share with the audience.”
We break into a grin when watching Niemann’s sketches because they contain things that many of us can relate to and appreciate. How about we follow his lead and view things with a slightly different perspective? If we can start from something small and expand our own meaning from there, then maybe another grin will await us in the end. And that would absolutely help us get through this depressing pandemic.

Christoph Niemann’s Website
Rich McCor

Chemnitz Sheep © Rich McCor

Rich McCor: Making Paper Cutouts by Being Himself
Rich McCor is the British artist famous for placing paper cutouts between his camera lens and subject. McCor first started doing this because he wanted to do something outside the ordinary. Even when just taking a photo of a London street, McCor wanted his fingerprints on it and saw it from his own point of view. He kept exploring the city in search of ways that had never been executed before.
Rich McCor

Albert Bridge Knitting © Rich McCor

Rich McCor

Lego Arc de Triomphe © Rich McCor

Rich McCor

Marilyn © Rich McCor

And McCor’s works are quite witty. The cables on a large bridge connecting cities become knitting thread for a grandma, and the arched roof of a building turns into the skirt for Marilyn Monroe. McCor’s imagination is so wacky and yet brilliant that, beyond making you laugh, it will make your jaw drop. And McCor’s hope all long had been to help people really find themselves, much like he did. “(I hope) that everyone has the ability to see the world in their own unique way, and if you can tap into that then it will open up opportunities for you,” he said. The type of uniqueness and peculiarity that McCor seeks isn’t necessarily something that’s far from being ordinary; rather, it’s something inimitable as to be irreplaceable. And McCor stressed the importance of viewing life through that lens.
“It's been a tough year for a lot of people spent in lockdown, but one of the encouraging things we've seen is that people are indulging in their passions and spending their time at home baking, knitting, learning a musical instrument, etc,” he said. “It's been brilliant to see creativity be a source of comfort and inspiration for people against the backdrop of a bad situation.”
We all have a ton of things to do and hills to climb the next day. But McCor’s words compel us to think about our priorities again. It’s time for us to start finding our own ways.

Rich McCor’s Website
Kim Soo-min

Paper cup art works by Kim Soo-min © Kim Soo-min

Kim Soo-min: Chronicling World on Paper Cups
If we make changes to things that are strewn around us, will they bring change? The answer is yes. Kim Soo-min is a Korean illustrator and paper cup artist. He has been breathing new life into coffee cups, the ones that we throw away without so much a second thought, by making fun and witty drawings on them. Possibilities for Starbucks cups knew no boundaries, and Kim even cut them and highlighted them to make ordinary scenes seem humorous.
Kim Soo-min

Social Distancing © Kim Soo-min

Kim Soo-min

Swing © Kim Soo-min

Kim Soo-min

Vacation © Kim Soo-min

Kim Soo-min

Rooftop © Kim Soo-min

Kim painted the world onto those cups. He depicts an ebullient and carefree side sometimes, but also shows a darker side of society in other times. His main character can be a woman or a man, or someone without gender. And a lot of what Kim has drawn can still be found around us. Kim has indeed squeezed our world into these cups, and they are a record of sort.
In the face of the global health crisis, we all wait for the next time. As we grow accustomed to delaying our gratification, more and more of us have fallen into COVID-19 blues. As you see Kim’s drawings, you’ll feel your lethargy slowly going away. Maybe it comes from the sense that nothing has been postponed to the next day. These cups will tell you just how much time Kim has dedicated to them, with all those delicate but repetitive strokes.

Kim Soo-min’s Instagram
Vincent Bal

Typeslicer © Vincent Bal

Vincent Bal: Making Doodles with Shadows
Shadows have long played second fiddle to their objects, almost destined never to take the center stage. But Vincent Bal, the Belgian-based filmmaker and artist, uses those very shadows to make doodles. He calls himself ‘Shadowologist’ and gives shadows new life. Bal is truly one of a kind. He stares at shadows until he thinks he can see something appear. In other words, Bal waits until that dark side changes into something in his imagination. As if he were watching a cloud move slowly, Bal lets his imagination take him to places and tries to come up with all the things that shadows can become. They could be anything from a small insect to the whole world.
Vincent Bal

The Tree of Light © Vincent Bal

Vincent Bal

Window of Opportunity © Vincent Bal

Bal is hoping art can soothe people’s souls during the pandemic. “I think art can help us in a lot of different ways. It allows us to travel without moving, it allows us to dream. It can connect people, even if we are far apart,” he said. “. It can be a comfort in difficult times, like a sad song sounds even better when you are unhappy. It can indeed show a different angle on a subject and open your mind like that. And, it can also make you smile. The world is not always a happy place, so it’s great if I can bring some sunshine into it with my shadows.”
Hearing such heartwarming words, you will realize there wouldn’t be shadows without sunlight. Shadows can take the center stage, after all, and they can be anything we want them to be. Even though we may have thought we were all alone these days, we’re all just waiting for one another. And that’s how Bal’s doodles have found their ways into our lives.

Vincent Bal’s Website
Tatsuya Tanaka

© Tatsuya Tanaka

Tatsuya Tanaka: Steeping Away from Prototypes
Masks become mountains, and sunglasses are turned into a computer monitor. Tongs are used to build a treadmill and a surgery is performed on a hot dog. These combinations of words don’t seem to make any sense, except that they’re perfectly normal in Tatsuya Tanaka’s world. The Japanese miniature photographer has won over hearts all over the world with some fascinating works. He adds his witty imagination to everyday supplies in those miniature worlds of his. Flipping the script has been Tanaka’s modus operandi, and something he wants people to see above all else. “It’s important for me to apply familiar objects or incidents to my work,” Tanaka said. “Expressing things in ways that aren’t related to their original use is called ‘mitate’ in Japan. To establish the type of comparison that people wouldn’t think about, I draw inspiration from things that many people already know.”
Tatsuya Tanaka

© Tatsuya Tanaka

Tatsuya Tanaka

© Tatsuya Tanaka

Tatsuya Tanaka

© Tatsuya Tanaka

Tanaka frequents shops. Looking at goods that people all purchase for the same purpose, and thinking about and observing their usage inspires him a great deal. Be it a convenient store, a supermarket or an online mall, Tanaka isn’t picky when it comes to finding his motif. He finds just the perfect blend of creativity, imagination, brilliance and wits to create his small, adorable world.
We’re living in an era when things we once took for granted can’t be anymore. Tanaka said the key is to have that ‘mitate’ mindset and expressed hope that everyone would get through the pandemic safely. “I use a lot of everyday products for my works. Since we spent a lot of time at home because of COVID-19, it’s really important to alter our perspective and enjoy that fresh viewpoint,” he said. “Take a look around yourself, observe, and let your imagination take you away. You’ll be able to have some fun during the pandemic.”

Tatsuya Tanaka’s Website
January 2021 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Writer:Lee Jayeon

Where to stay?

  • January 2021
  • Editor: Kim Hyewon
    Writer: Lee Jayeon
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