Cute but quirky and surreal too! You never know what you’re going to get with uou_cute

You’ve probably heard of a mood board, but what about a cute board?

24 November 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

Welcome to the wonderful world of uou___cute! This delightful universe consists of a mood board with a difference; a cute board. The artist behind this aesthetic, which combines the quirky and the surreal with cuteness, is the Macao-based Lam Lo and also runs an illustration and animation practice. Having grown up in the southern Chinese coastal city, Lam remembers a great love of drawing and colouring. Later on, this hobby would turn into a career. She studied at London College of Communication, pursuing a master’s degree in illustration and animation where she developed her craft into the unique and sometimes fluffy style that she is well known for today.

Going back to the “cute board” aspect of Lam’s work, the artist generates much of her inspiration through this form of blogging. Looking at the eclectic Instagram page followed by tens of thousands of cuteness enthusiasts, @uou___cute is brimming with joyful delights from pretty realistic penguin-shaped Chinese dumplings, hamsters with a hamster-sized Nintendo DS, ultra-cute Bichon Frise-like cakes, a myriad of super cute interiors and, to top it all off, of course, Lam’s magnificent works.

She tells us, “I love to use soft pastels, oil pastels, colour pencil and brush pens,” which culminate in a highly distinctive aesthetic. Soft pastels are her favourite because of their lightweight textures and softness, which she applies to paper with such a delicate touch, it’s a marvel to the viewer enjoying Lam’s colourful works. She first came upon this style during university while working on her graduate animation, a short film titled Di-cake. To convey the characters’ airily soft textures, she devised this use of pastels, pencils and brush pens to emulate the puffy coats of pampered pooches, providing them with the cloud-like pretence and bubbly personality that these dogs possess when bobbing along. She adds of the first-ever project on uou___cute which is still ongoing to this date: “In the poodle series, I use cotton buds to apply pastels on paper to give a soft, fluffy and effortless touch to the strokes.”

Along with cuteness, another theme running through Lam’s work is anthropomorphism. It’s seen in her fluttering butterflies with elongated curling eyelashes, and sweet dogs with smiling faces and primped hairdos. If you look closely, there is also a pig or two wearing roller skates. While anthropomorphism has been a commonality in her work for some time, at the moment, it’s a trait heavily inspired by Shanghai Animation Film Studio and its masterful films, harking back to Chinese animations from the 60s to the 80s with their vintage tinted visuals and beautifully painted backdrops.

Films like Da Nao Tian Gong and Ran Shen Gun were staples to many children growing up, and many of the stories narrated traditional Chinese myths. Lam says of the animation studio’s importance: “All of the elements in the animation is inspiring – the backgrounds, characters, colours and movements. Each detail is extremely beautiful! I love it so much!” And we can attest to Lam’s exclamation as such films are as contemporary today as they are timeless classics.

Channelling an assortment of references, Lam’s output also encompasses accessories and ornaments on top of her illustration and animation practice. She uses resin and cat rubbers, popularly used in the 80s, to create her diversely shaped characters and trinkets. She looks to the intricate setting of nail art to inspire these designs, while utilising the transparency of resin to create the illusion of multiple dimensions. She adds on the matter: “I love how the objects within the resin appear differently depending on the viewing angle, which is why I’m having a lot of fun working on this project.” Aside from such personal endeavours, Lam also works on commercial commissions, most recently working with clothing brand Unif who adapted Lam’s collages into garments.

Multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary, it’s been gratifying to delve into Lam’s works. Though there are several avenues to her work, for now, illustration and animation will remain the focus. That being said, however, it would be out of character to not quench her curiosity and already, she has hopes of expanding her toolkit even further to work with fabric and embroidery. So keep an eye out for the latest creations by uou___cute, you never know what you might see next. Whether it’s resin, fashion or graphic design work, we know it will be a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

GalleryLam Lo (Copyright © uou___cute, 2020)

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Lam Lo (Copyright © uou___cute, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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