Where Are You?

Artist and graphic designer Nod Young works in vibrant colors and bold lines; from his Beijing studio, he has worked for clients such as Nike, Disney, and Greenpeace. He describes his recent personal work Where Are You? as a narrative poem in the style of a comic strip. Here, he talks about the piece in his own words:

“I was conceiving the packaging for a project, and suddenly I came across this form of artistic expression, and I liked it. For the following week, I expanded the content and form of the story and attempted different senses of forms. There were a lot of works that did not satisfy me through the journey, and finally this series turned out to be what it is now—a narrative poem with the style of a comic strip.” 

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“I’m not good at composing stories because I can’t remember characters’ relationships and their personalities. Therefore, if I were to write a story, I could only base it on my own narrative, on reality. Memories of my childhood have become vague; there are a number of uncertainties in them, yet these uncertainties create a degree of beautiful fragmentation and fantasy. The process of me drawing these pictures is also a process of me reminiscing, seeking, and finding. I drew slowly, so as I progressed, I modified some original ideas about what I would draw next. Another reason for these works being fragmented is that the pictorial contents are concrete, specific, and first-personal, like what you would experience when you access someone’s subconscious.”

“Before I painted the comic, I gave myself a condition: It should be a self-expression, and the content must come from my childhood. But I couldn’t make sure that the memories were true and reliable. When we try to recollect something, it seems like we are restoring our memory, but in the meantime it is changing.”

“I did all the painting in Adobe Illustrator. My method involves using mathematical relationships to make sure every point is in the right place and every angle has a rigorous connection—it’s an alternative to the randomness and uncertainty of painting by hand…. The unsure memory and the rigorous painting have a contradictory relationship; this is what I like.”

“I’m not actually sharing my memories since the ideas I present here are the ‘most ordinary’—not so colorful in terms of emotions. Put another way, these are bland but unforgettable emotional experiences. I’m not very fond of describing significant events. This reflects my personality, as I scarcely have dramatic emotional fluctuations but often tiny complicated moods. My pictures are like this; they only express basic emotions.”


“Distortions of perspective and interferences of geometric shapes break familiarity. This ‘very limited familiarity’ is what I intend. Take poetry as an example: we are familiar with the sentences and combinations of words, but the structures and relationships between sentences are broken, and through these broken scenes we expand imaginations.” 

“Ultimately I will release a book, a decent comic book, in probably two or three, even four or five years. This series is hard and slow to do; it will take a few years to accumulate a good amount. Besides, many circumstances will take place in this period, life may change, ideas may run out, and I can even doubt myself. Anyway, it is going to be tough…. The first chapter ends here. I am constructing the second one, and I already have an embryo of it in my mind. The form will not change, but the way I narrate will.”

Check out more from this series on Young’s Behance page. Also don't miss some other great series, including his typogropahy illustration series Unnamed 20:


March 4, 2016

Images: courtesy of Nod Young