The Guangzhou-based illustrator known as Boiling Man likes to document his travels with an exceptionally observant eye. He notes the minutest of details through his drawings, filling vibrant sketchbooks with life as he travels around foreign lands. Most recently, the illustrator visited Korea, returning back to China not only with his fond memories in mind, but also on the papers in which he lavishly captured his surroundings.
“Every time I look back on my travel notes, I remember the things that happened at that moment,” he tells It’s Nice That. Among the bright pages of his sketchbook, Boiling Man notes the Korean vending machines, electric Minis charging up by the roadside, nick-nacks for sale, and a policeman on duty. Each drawing has been executed with particular attention to detail, not only in the carefully-applied pencil strokes but also in every character’s facial expression. Though Boiling Man’s illustrations refer to an ephemeral moment in time that passes by in an instant, his illustrations encapsulate specific moments. His drawings seem to catch people mid-expression like a snapshot that reveals one frame mid-sentence.
For the illustrator, his “travel is not over-planned” but “random”. An interest in the Korean band Hyokuh led him onto a trip to see them at Busan, then after realising there was an illustration art festival in Seoul, Boiling Man “bought a ticket immediately”. He views his drawings as much more than sketches, but more “an interesting summary of [his] thoughts” through a tableau. For instance, Boiling Man picks up on K-pop imagery to reflect his interests in the cult genre. He also documents particular design quirks in advertisements that he likes, and visually comments on how he found “Korea to be a good place for dating”.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to sketch out a composition, then Boiling Man finishes it later. He chooses bright and cheery colours supported by pastels or large blocks of blackness for contrast. Many of his illustrations are underpinned by energetic hand-type that carry through the instant charm of Boiling Man’s oeuvre. The balance of image and type seizes his unique perspective of the world and underlines how he finds “all kinds of phenomena very interesting”. And because Boiling Man’s travels are documented with so much fun and curiosity, he’s published his illustrations in a zine. In a similarly captivating set of drawings that records Boiling Man’s trip to Japan, hopefully, he is on a course to share his colourful view of the world for a long time to come.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.