When looking back on his childhood, Ferry Gouw can’t remember a time when he wasn’t drawing. Equally reserved and amazed by the art that was around him, he quickly became obsessed with everything from 80s cartoons to Japanese anime and Marvel comics, and began to emulate their supernatural human style. “Drawing was a way for me to express my ideas,” he tells us. And so, when he gained the opportunity to study art and design at Central Saint Martins in London he began imparting his fusionist style onto a plethora of projects, such as record covers and other illustrations and designs for a band.
Fast forward a few years and Ferry presents us with his new zine, The Life Cycle of Froggies. Starting the first few drawings for the project in 2018, it began as a playful experiment with the goal of strengthening his digital airbrushing skills. “During that year I lost a close friend and life became quite harrowing for me, so I think I began to use the project as a form of distraction,” he tells us. The style throughout the zine has a particularly playful quality, with illustrations of frogs engaging in what we’d regard as human activity. They hug, they fight and they love. And the humans that are featured, let’s just say they are somewhere between antagonists toying with the frogs’ life and death, and characters who aren‘t privy to their world. “When I started to make sense of what I was creating, I realised I was mimicking some kind of life-cycle of a pet of some sort, except the pet is this humanoid alien-frog creature that is also a Gen Z sneakerhead,” he adds.
Much of Ferry’s inspiration for the project came from the Practical Fishkeeping magazine. “I imagined the breeding process, the individual and communal behaviours of these froggies, their status in the wild, and eventually their death and disposal. And, once I had this down, I started to imagine it in the context of a fake pet husbandry magazine,” he tells us. Creating the illustrations on his iPad, before designing the backgrounds on Illustrator and bringing them all together in Photoshop, Ferry wanted a process that would present hardly any challenges and the easiest vehicle to get his ideas across. “I’m sure my ruminations on grief and ideas of life and death must’ve trickled down subconsciously under this idea of a fake pet.”
With this project, Ferry has not only made us stop and think about the life cycle of frogs, but he has reminded us of the power and ability that creativity has to get us through the darkest of times. Currently working on a Risograph comic based on supernatural beliefs and the occult in his hometown in Indonesia and developing a series of creatures (called Mutoids) and building a world for them in motion graphics, Ferry will soon be gracing the zine fairs and digital sphere with what we’re sure will be equally unique and engrossing projects.
GalleryFerry Gouw: The Life Cycle of Froggies (Copyright © Ferry Gouw, 2023)
Ferry Gouw: The Life Cycle of Froggies (Copyright © Ferry Gouw, 2023)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) is a staff writer at It's Nice That, with a particular interest in Black visual culture. They have previously written for publications such as WePresent, and worked as researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.