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Pandemic Surrealist
Digital Illustration



COVID, pandemic, face mask, sanitization… Our life has morphed significantly since the outbreak of  COVID-19. From Canada discovered its first COVID case, news, radios, newspapers and broadcasts  have bombarded us with disease updates daily. The pandemic is a human society tsunami that  made an overturning impact on everyone.  

As a result, my daily routine has shifted from outdoor to indoor majorly. During my spare time, I  enjoy diving into my own literary collection. They are the best relaxation for finding mental peace.  Among the collection, The Little Prince is one of my favourite novellas, written by French aristocrat,  writer, and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  

The wandering journey of the little prince inspired me to find unseen paths at home. The physical  limit of space disappears when I continually explore the indoor environment. Unexpectedly, the  process of self-discovery evoked a new understanding of space. After a few days of meditation, I  decided to create a series of surrealist digital illustrations to deliver the message: If we can unlock  our vision from physical space limitation, we will gain infinite freedom from our inner space. Let us  have a trip that explores the path from panic to peace. 


The Noise explores the door gate space in my apartment, which functions as the threshold that  blocks the chaos outside of the home. The image symbolized the panic stage when the number of  COVID cases rapidly rose in Vancouver. Everything happened suddenly and i need to reschedule a  lot of my plans choicelessly. Ever since then, the front door is where sanitization took place. I spray my clothes and anything I brought from outside. The cold-coloured hand sanitizer is a symbol here to represent the process. ​​

The image consists of mixed bright colours. The use of colour block and bold strokes emphasized the idea of contrast, in other words, collision. They conveyed my messy mood when I realized the  termination of the old way of living. In the image, I implemented dusk and dawn into the background  to reveal the idea of shifting and also the loss of time. The image structure consists of multiple layers of objects: the wall, the kitchen table and doors. It combines with the colours to shape the complicated and messy situation. The fox is a representation of "relationship" in The Little Prince. At  this point, I'm picturing myself as the fox who is establishing a new relationship with myself. I need  to tame my life and pay responsibility. 


The Calm revealed the stage of self purge and calming down. The scenario took place in my washroom, which is the next step after I arrive home. It is where I finally finish all my sanitation,  which is sort of like a ceremony of disconnection from outside. At the center, there lies all kinds of cleaner bottles: hand soap, bleach, mouthwash and medical alcohol. They are a visualization of me calming down but still feeling uncertain. 

The images shifted to a limited vision in order to provide a self-centred picture. I used monotone to create a sense of sinking. You may hear the quietness from the image. The use of blue expressed that my thoughts are slowing down with a sense of sorrow. The mirror is a reflection of my appearance. Compared to The Noise, I decreased the use of bold stroke lines to increase the feeling of harmony and smoothness. 


The Transformation depicts the stage of decision making . The image takes location at my desk,  which also becomes my new workspace. It used to be my creative workshop, where I tried different kinds of painting materials and styles. This space was meant to be fun. However, as pandemic hits,  the pressure of work and school emerges into this space. The occurrence of conflicts fulfilled this space. 

The structure of the image consist of the left side and the right side. While the left is majorly filled with cold colour, the right side is filled with warm colours. What is different in this image, is the absence of COVID products. Every element relates to my mind, not COVID. The chair's position is a significant message here to indicate my situation, that I'm facing pressure, but my vision is on the mountains and sky(bright future). The extension of the cliff represents the sense of hope.  It continues from my desk to the outside of the door. The boat is an image of myself that I will eventually flow to the bright future. The texture of water refers to oil painting, which I used to convey softness in my heart. At this stage, my heart starts to realize that my subjectivity gave me the faulty message of lack of freedom. Indeed, I can still make art and do the things I like. The Transformation of lifestyle could also be a gift. 


The Release takes place in my living room, where I usually take a quick nap on my couch. This image delivers an open space, that comes with a sense of warmth and comfort. I found my inner relief when I lay down on the sofa. As my body relaxed, there were lots of questions that jumped into my mind. Where does all of my anxiety come from? Is it the sudden change of life? The disruption to all my plans? Or the limitation of freedom?  Where's the border of freedom? Life is always shifting, but it is my subjectivity that locks me into anxiety. 

The image used one point of view to reveal my inner perspective. The choice of colour is soft pastel colours representing the release of pressure, and I start to find a new way to appreciate my life.  Compared to the wide river in The Transformation, the creek here depicts the process of slowing down in my mind. The presence of a face mask in a plastic pocket conveys my acceptance of the current situation. The reflection of water is also the reflection of my thoughts, that they are clear now. You may hear the sound of water as looking at the image. 


As the last piece of The Room collection, The Wake depicts my morning bedroom scenario, which also means a new beginning. Differentiating from previous scnerios, this image is full of sunshine and warm colours. After my mind storm, I broke the boundary of my inner limitation and decided to move forward with a positive vibe.  

I transformed the background into the Red Rock Canyon from the USA. By examining the image,  you will hear the sound of the wind. I pictured myself flying through the canyons while there's water flowing underneath my body. The use of complementary colour brought out the bright mood. At this point, my inner peace brought infinite freedom to my body. 


What is truly the limitation of freedom? This year, many people are feeling a lack of freedom.  However, it is not until COVID hits, and our physical body encounters limitations. We are living in a  society. There are rules for all sorts of actions. It is the body that finds freedom within one's mind.  In this series of illustration collections, I used various techniques to present the transformation of my inner world. Thick stroke is heavily used in The Noise to represent a sense of anxiety. As my thoughts morphed, I removed a majority of strokes, and the existing ones are thinner. The use of perspective and colour also depicted the tiny movements within my heart. Surrealism is one of my favourite cultural movements after WW1. It is best known for evoking unconscious thoughts with the  use of imagery in order to let the viewers question the dystopia reality.  While technology develops,  I believe it is a bold act to combine digital art with Surrealism to address the cultural crisis that we are facing today. We are experiencing an invisible war against disease. When time flies, self reflection should still be the foundation for the improvement of the society. 

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