Odding turns mundane receipts into quirky miniature artworks from around the world

Based in Japan but impressively well-travelled, Odding found receipts as a clever way of harnessing creation and inspiration.

29 September 2022


Born in China and now based out of Japan, the artist Odding (otherwise known as Wang Ruijia) has caught our attention with her brilliantly quirky and original project Coffee Receipt Stories. Interestingly enough, while Coffee Receipt Stories is brimming with undeniable talent and artistic wit, Odding wasn’t always working as an artist. It was only a few months ago she packed up her things in Tokyo and started living a nomadic life across Japan to focus on her own creative projects.

It was during this time she decided to collate and release her Coffee Receipt Stories. The origins of this project itself stem from a frustration of no inspiration, a story artists know all too well. “I was sitting in a nearby cafe, lost in the thought of self-doubt, and I saw a person taking a memo at the back of the receipt,” Odding tells It’s Nice That. “Then an idea struck me that all I needed to do was just create something right here right now, no matter how small it is.” And so, the project was born. It’s now become Odding’s way to give herself a little reminder and a prompt to keep creating and telling stories. “It worked but then it almost became too much,” she recalls. “I’ve even honestly recorded my thoughts on some of the receipts, and I’ve realised that they are all precious parts of the process.”

With over 700 collected receipts, it sounds like a near-impossible task to sift through them. Odding started organising them online at the 600 mark, out of which she selected around 300 to present online for the project. “For this specific project, digital tool Readymag was a real life saver, since the amount of content was a bit too overwhelming,” she says. When asked to pinpoint which receipts are her favourite, it proves to be an unfairly colossal task. So, we narrow it down to places in the world which contain her favourites. “Tokyo is a perfect place to collect coffee receipts because it has a very unique and diverse coffee culture,” Odding says. “There are retro style coffee shops called ‘Kissa-ten’, many of which have a history of at least half a century.” In fact, the old-school way of paper receipts that is commonplace in Japan has helped the project diversify in shape, size, texture and colour. “In terms of the receipt itself, my favourite one in Tokyo is No.491, a beautifully hand-written one in English, but the staff didn’t even speak English,” she laughs.


Odding: Coffee Receipts Project (Copyright © Wang Ruijia, 2022)

Laos and Colombia are also two other places Odding cites for her favourite receipts. Laos in particular was interesting, as the cafe didn’t produce receipts. So, with her wit and candour, Odding managed to wrangle her way into getting the staff to produce one specifically for her. The collection of these receipts became somewhat of an obsession, and every layover for every long-distance travel became an opportunity to add to the project and create something. “On arrival at the Toronto airport for a layover, I immediately went downtown, shivering in the bitter cold wind, just to get a receipt, then rushed back to catch the flight,” she says. “Since the pandemic started, I have been staying in Japan the whole time. But I made lots of domestic trips too and collecting receipts from different prefectures became another fun game for me to play with.”

Next on her list to conquer is Europe, “where coffee culture originated”, she says. It’s an exciting idea that we’d love to see added to the endlessly-inspiring project. “The point with this project was to find some stories in everyday life no matter how mundane it was,” Odding says. Thankfully, turning the mundane into the sacred is exactly what she achieved.

GalleryOdding: Coffee Receipts Project (Copyright © Wang Ruijia, 2022)

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Odding: Coffee Receipts Project (Copyright © Wang Ruijia, 2022)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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