Watch illustrator Lony Mathis draw your dream 00s bedroom, including the dog you were never allowed
Alongside kid-friendly commissions for publications, the Vienna-based illustrator creates work guaranteed to bring every 00s childhood fantasy into sharp focus.
- Liz Gorny
- 11 April 2022
The click of a stylus against a Nintendogs DS loading screen, those plastic pink see-through blow-up armchairs, a colourful, jangling fistful of beaded Claire’s accessories; you don’t have to be a 90s kid to get Lony Mathis’ work, but it definitely helps. The portfolio of the Vienna-based illustrator summons an irrepressible nostalgia for all these questionable products and more, while simultaneously serving as a “pink fluffy blanket” for viewers.
“Even as a child, painting and drawing was, for me, a kind of escape from reality, like a portal to another world in which everything is possible,” Lony tells us. This rings true for the artist even today, who is still making work about childhood memories and youth but reimagined in an “ideal world”, something the artist loves to paint “because I often did not have this when I was little”, she explains. These elements come together in images that depict bedrooms that most millennials would have killed for growing up, complete, of course, with a fluffy best friend. “Dogs are just pure love. That’s why they usually play the main role in my art,” explains Lony. “My dog taught me the most important character traits, namely what it means to love unconditionally, to be loyal, to have a big heart and to be a good person.” This same ethos warmly saturates all of Lony’s idyllic images.
While Lony makes work on her own childhood, her cute, surreal and absolutely loveable style makes the illustrator the perfect commission for kids too. One such project is for children’s magazine Zeit Leo. A dream project for Lony – “It is my absolute favourite magazine” – the spreads, designed by Tanja Laböck, are based on another wonderfully saccharine subject: ice cream. But not as you know it. Flavours of cucumber combined with Nutella and Pizza are dished out by the scoopful in Lony’s illustrations, served up by a jolly ice cream maker. As if this project wasn’t brilliant enough, Lony also recently worked with Nylon Japan on another fitting commission; she illustrated the 12 zodiac signs for the horoscope section of the January issue, designed by Nina Gate.
While Lony’s inspirations are rooted in an era where “everything was more colourful and vibrant, from children’s clothes to toys, candy and music,” says the illustrator, her aesthetic interestingly derives from an entirely different time altogether. While studying illustration, Lony tells us: “I discovered a book in the library about airbrush art of the 70s and 80s, and I was blown away. I wanted my illustrations to have that exact aesthetic.”
Having perfected the union between these two worlds in the year’s since, Lony asks for only one more thing of her work: that it makes people feel “safe and happy”. She adds: “I want my illustrations to evoke good emotions and increase serotonin production." In a very grown up world, Lony is putting a stake in the ground for giving audiences a flash of comfortability, even if only for a second.
Lony Mathis: Poster design for Matter Of (Copyright © Matter Of, 2021)
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, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.