Through an illustrated set of trading cards, Moritz Winkels looks at the negative sides of social media
Featuring a carnivorous cow, mermaid prostitute and a powerful fairy, the Germany-based illustrator presents a series of cards that depict a highly critical yet wonderfully humorous view on the world.
- Ayla Angelos
- 17 February 2020
Meet Nokela, the carnivorous cow that’s particularly enthusiastic about unusual meat dishes. She’s pretty adventurous and puts a lot of thought into the things she cares about, but her political correctness is at a whopping low of -100. Then there’s Wilhelmina, a mermaid who’s been working as a prostitute for 120 years: her virginity scores at -100, but she’s got reasonably high sewing skills and she’s pretty experienced at her job. Satirically refined and humorously composed, these two characters are part of Moritz Winkel’s ongoing collection of trading cards, a nine-part series called #intheeyeofthebeholder!!11! that aims to turn its gaze on the negative sides of social media.
The Germany-based illustrator refers to himself as a visual storyteller. Currently pursuing his studies in Sustainable Design in Cologne, Germany, it was after his BA in Interior Design that he realised his “passion lies in inventing [his] own characters, stories and visual worlds.” So much so that he went on to invent a collection of referential characters, each presented on a trading card with their strong points and weaknesses assessed in just two satirical sentences. “It’s very important for me to convey different themes and messages through my work,” Moritz tells It’s Nice That. “These can be political or socially relevant topics, which should make you think, as well as completely self-made stories, which are primarily for entertainment.” Most importantly, he adds a healthy dose of humour to his creations, which he hopes will make his audience smile.
Cheeky and certainly amusing, each character is as bountiful as the next. We also meet Dominik Yappings who is Wilhelmine’s pimp – who scores a mammoth 280 for his affectation. Next up, we’re introduced to Julius Broomstick, a strange looking creature that believes he is a “powerful fairy”. Ironically, he scores a zero for magic skill, but his poetry comes out at 120. Then we have Madame Kurva, who’s “not necessarily the best mother in the world” but she’s pretty good at Zumba and smoking cigarettes. A key player, however, is protagonist and private detective Dr Toadnewt and his loyal partner Winston, “who together try to solve a bizarre, mysterious case, and in the course of the story encounter several characters we know from the trading cards,” such as Wilhelmine and Dominik Yappings.
Entertainment aside, the aim here is to shift a focus on the ways in which information and imagery is shared online, a place that becomes all too easy for someone to hide behind a screen and “attack” through a keyboard. “These tongue-in-cheek cards shall encourage people to critically examine what’s going on and to always form their own opinion,” says Moritz, “but maybe not post it at the first opportunity on the internet; reflect at first.”
The idea for the project first came about after Moritz had to deal with the topic itself. “A few months ago, I created the picture Digital Detox Diet, which also unofficially belongs to the series and continues it,” he says. “Actually, my head is constantly working on new ideas and concepts – as soon as I have a topic of a task, within a few seconds to minutes, very explicit finished pictures arise in my head, which I then try to illustrate.” Then, once these ideas are formed, Moritz commences his drawings, armed with a pencil or fine liner to then sketch and colour in on a computer. “I love to play with different textures, especially with regards to the trading cards,” he says, commenting on how he gravitates towards the old comic book aesthetic, creating work that appears to have been pulled from the 30s or 70s.
Looking back to his past, Moritz has always been an avid collector. His childhood was filled with comics, which instantly inspired him to draw from an early stage, creating his own comic figures and characters – something that transpires right through to his collection of trading cards. “The characters of the trading cards find their own origin in my catch-sheets for colour blobs and spots, which I use while drawing to catch and test colour,” he explains of his process. “One day, I rediscovered some of my old blotches of paint and saw characters and figures in them, so I started to develop little sentences and stories about those guys and breathed a soul into them.” Moritz has the ability to find a story in just about anything – like a blob – and turn it into a hysterical depiction of society.
Now transferred into a book of 56 pages, the trading card series has an impressive 94 pieces with 25 cards and characters already finished. “The characters are so close to my heart,” he concludes. “The goal is to reach out to people who enjoy the cards as much as I do.”
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.