Damo says dreams are a major inspiration for them. In particular, that moment, when weird things appear “in an instant”, only to be quickly accepted by the dreamer under the strange logic of REM. It’s not as easy to get used to the strange happenings taking place in Damo’s work with quite the same speed – for all the best reasons. The Seoul-based artist is ripping up the rule book on narrative, on texture, the 3D art scene, character design, gravity – in short, the rules of normality that might make your work a little more commercial, a little less weird, and a whole lot less fun.
Damo creates all of her work, comprising both illustration and animation, using 3D programs (they are a must for fans of Yonk). Yet, as a staunch Tim Burton and Coraline fan, the artist has managed to introduce a naive, stop motion aesthetic into the medium – to occasionally harrowing results. For example, you can often see the echo of thumbed clay textures in the faces of their characters and quaint landscapes, but they mostly look more squished than organic, showing up as melting facial features or curdling buildings.
On the note of characters, let’s take a tour through some of Damo’s friendly subjects. A typical Damo animation will likely take you to a suspiciously idyllic blue-skied, grassy knoll where you can meet the likes of: a human with sinewy skin-covered spider legs and a green middle part; a smiling cat that’s been pressed flat; a chair/human; a weeping sunflower; and a distressed pet rock.
The latest artwork to tumble from the artist’s brain is It’s Not a Dog. “Once, I was walking on the street and I saw a really cute dog from behind.” And then, the artist explains, a flash came from Damo’s subconscious. “What if the dog had an old man’s face as it looked back? It could be really weird but cute! So I made ajossi dog (ajossi means old man in Korean).” This ability to latch on to thoughts many of us would brush off as silly, is what makes Damo’s work as inspired as it is. “I catch that image and draw it immediately,” they confirm. The artist then creates characters and narratives – however wonderfully loose – out of each inspiration hit, and weaves them all into part of her sprawling 3D world.
In the past, these digital scenarios have appeared in music videos for Zoorumpug, tour announcements for Balming Tiger, and as real life sculptures – the artist has just as much of a knack for converting things into the physical space. Although, mostly, they like the coincidental nature of 3D; how you can input characters into a 3D program and they emerge out of proportion.
This penchant for the imperfect is also a key theme. “We are all incomplete,” says Damo, “but we always seek perfection. When we can be convinced that we are all incomplete, we feel that we are equal and gain stability from there. So I made an incomplete world,” they conclude – where the imperfect, the weird, and the squishy reign supreme.
Damo: Pyramid doggy (Copyright © Damo, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.