Born and raised in Shanghai, where he currently resides, artist Woshibai illustrates amusing scenes that, though clearly imaginary and surreal, are often relatable in their tone. Featuring a host of simply drawn figures, his characters frequently find themselves in frustrating, confusing or ridiculous situations that play on notions of mundanity and reverie.
Working entirely in monochrome, Woshibai’s illustrations are minimalistic yet focused. Bouncing between single and multiple frames, he is able to build narrative with impressive ease. The latter resembling comic strip format, Woshibai says this style was a later development in his practice: “I studied industrial design in college, however, I didn’t like my major and often cut class to draw pictures in the dormitory and then publish them on the internet,” he explains. “After a while, editors and art directors of magazines contacted me to draw some illustrations for them, including a comic, which led to the realisation that it was a very suitable medium for my expression.”
Equally inspired by the comics industry in China and renowned anthologies such as Special Comix, as well as other creators like Yancong and Ganmu, Woshibai made it his sole creative pursuit. Always carrying a few pieces of A4 paper and a pen with him while he’s out, he frequently documents his ideas. “A picture, a sentence in a book or a scene I see on the road are all likely to attract my attention and lead me to a place I’d like to go,” he explains. Later, after returning home, he will begin with fragmentary sketches. “Once I’ve accumulated enough, I pick out the best ones and they become the work you see.”
Drawing primarily using a painting software called Sai2, Woshibai’s illustrations boast refined linework and aesthetic consistency. Reoccurring elements such as his spherical-headed, wide-eyed protagonist, and his cap-wearing male character, create for the viewer a visual reference point that allows them to relate to each drawing; it’s as though, as we follow their adventures, we get to know these anonymous figures. Ceaselessly jumping from one illustration to the next and witnessing their trials and tribulations, their mishaps and musings, though short-lived, become increasingly entertaining. Saying so much with so little is certainly part of Woshibai’s charm.
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