Delightful Characters Spring to Life in Hand-Cranked Wooden Automata by Kazuaki Harada
May 12, 2021

Japanese woodworker Kazuaki Harada (previously) has spent the last few years designing these playful automata that activate with a simple hand-crank. Watch miners work in tandem, a figure cackle with unparalleled enthusiasm, and the devil aggressively play the fiddle, and make sure to turn your volume up, too—Harada often pairs an audio component with the mechanical movements for an additional dose of whimsy. For more of his quirky designs, which include many of the character-based works shown here in addition to more elaborate, abstract pieces, check out his Instagram and YouTube. More Continue reading

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Illusory Photographs of Mountain Landscapes Are Flipped 90 Degrees to Reveal Human-Like Profiles
May 11, 2021

There’s a long history of connecting natural occurrences and pareidolia, or the inclination to see an object or find meaning where it physically doesn’t exist. The psychological phenomenon is responsible for a range of human experiences from the childhood pastime of cloud watching to the Rorschach test to the idea that there’s a man in the moon and one that’s aided in naming some of the rocky formations photographed by Bernhard Lang (previously). More Continue reading

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Discarded Technology and Branded Trash Are Stacked into Dystopian Structures in Alvaro Naddeo’s Paintings
May 7, 2021

Behind each one of Alvaro Naddeo’s watercolor paintings is an imagined character who’s built a rickety shopping cart structure or gathered waste materials for a tiny, mobile dwelling. “I believe they are strong people, resilient, and survivalists,” the Brazilian artist tells Colossal. “They use creativity to overcome obstacles and adapt to any situation they are put in. So in a way, both of them, characters and discarded objects, are proof that there’s value in everything if you know where to look for it.”
Evoking an alternative universe in a state of ruin, Naddeo (previously) renders ramshackle structures and vehicles—which only span a few inches—made primarily of outdated technology, rusted carts and frames, and a plethora of branded materials: a Marlboro sign props up an upper level, a Coca-Cola panel offers protection from the elements, and logoed posters and stickers cover almost every surface. More Continue reading

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A Painstakingly Crafted Village Perches Atop a Wooden Tower in Ognyan Stefanov’s Miniature Utopia
May 5, 2021

Bulgarian artist Ognyan Stefanov pairs his day job as an aviation photographer with an equally lofty practice of crafting lavish architectural miniatures that soar high in the air. One of his creations is this utopic village, aptly named “Skyville,” which was designed as a self-sustaining enclave complete with shops, farms and gardens, a library, and a few homes, including the main house with the individually tiled pitched roof. Posted atop a latticed tower, the heavily landscaped town was designed to mimic real functionality with a water drainage system, pulleys, and walkways that climb from level to level. More Continue reading

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A Rare Toshiba Typewriter from the 1950s Operates with a Trilingual Index of Thousands of Characters
April 29, 2021


In the 1940s, Toshiba began producing index typewriters with massive, horizontal cylinders containing thousands of symbols. One edition, the BW-2112—watch the demonstration by the New Orleans-based Typewriter Collector above to see how the redesign utilizes manual rotation and a metal pointer to print the characters—was a particularly advanced model with keys in three languages: Japanese, Chinese, and English.
The trilingual device ordered the characters in a manner similar to what you’d find in a Japanese dictionary, which is explained on the Typewriter Collector’s page as follows:

They’re arranged phonetically by most common “on-yomi” (or kun-yomi in some cases) according to the kana syllabary (many homophones, of course)… Red characters help parse the readings.

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Fantastical Plants and Hybrid Characters Form a Strange Menagerie Crafted by Cat Johnston
March 19, 2021

A moth-human hybrid, striped coral, and a smoking frog sporting a tracksuit inhabit Cat Johnston’s fantastical ecosystem crafted from paper and textiles. The playfully bizarre creatures are inspired by monsters, mythology, and folklore, evoking deities and magnifying the strange qualities of plants and animals. Johnston created many of the lifeforms shown here shortly after moving to San Francisco and exploring the environment. “I was blown away by all the strange and lovely cacti and succulents and the animals I saw there (hummingbirds and pelicans and raccoons!) and wanted to create a landscape of plants and creatures that felt as alien and magical as California did to me,” she says. More Continue reading

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A Technicolor Flower Bed Sprouts From a 70-Foot-Tall Water Tower in Arkansas
January 13, 2021

A drab water tower in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, is overrun with a 70-foot-tall garden of technicolor flowers and vines thanks to artists Darren and Emmelene Mate, aka DabsMyla. The Australian wife and husband are known for their hand-painted psychedelic dreamscapes, which envelop the otherwise utilitarian tank with oversized flora. Titled “Magical Unity,” the circular mural features plants native to the region, along with a fuzzy bumblebee mid-pollination, all rendered in the duo’s playful style. More Continue reading

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The Wolf House: A Horror Film Plunges into the Disturbing Mind of a Child through a Blend of Stop-Motion Animation and Murals
January 12, 2021

Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León descend into the psychologically disturbing world of a child escaped from religious fanatics in their feature-length film The Wolf HouseLayered with audio of unsettling voices and the quiet mutterings of a young girl, the grotesque animation seamlessly blends horror and documentary as it recounts some of the tragedies of the Colonia Dignidad, the post-World War II colony that was established by Germans and Chileans under the dictatorial rule of General Augusto Pinochet. More Continue reading

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A Woolen Menagerie of Miniature Creatures by Natasya Shuljak Exudes Joy and Whimsy
December 23, 2020

Adorable, cheery, and slightly dazed, this eccentric ensemble of miniatures is the latest from Moscow-based crafter Natasya Shuljak (previously). Made from raw fibers felted together, the expressive characters are imbued with whimsy and play. Flower petals sprout from ambiguous creatures, while other pudgy animals emit a calm and joyful air.
Because Shuljak’s style of dry felting emerged in recent years, she shares that her current preoccupation is with finding new ways to create without the help of tradition. More Continue reading

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SMILE: Ride an Emotional Rollercoaster with These Perpetually Grinning Characters
December 4, 2020


The googly-eyed cast in Lucas Zanatto’s new looped animation is all of us this year: Beaming one moment, bummed the next. “SMILE” follows an array of pastel characters as they quickly twist from one mood to another. Whether spurred by a downward spiral or rollercoaster ride, each movement turns the pastel creature topsy-turvy, leaving it with a perpetual grin.
Watch more light-hearted projects from the Helsinki-based director (previously) on Vimeo and Instagram, where he also shares tutorials and behind-the-scenes shots. More Continue reading

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An Eccentric Cast of Hybrid Creatures Mirrors the Diversity and Humor of Human Experience
November 24, 2020

From a dowdy California quail to an incendiary horned lizard, Alessandro Gallo’s peculiar menagerie of animal-human hybrids is teeming with personality. The colorful characters reflect the breadth of interactions occurring every day throughout public spaces as folks encounter others unlike themselves, like a parakeet contorted into a yoga pose or a suit-wearing hooded merganser.
Based in Helena, Montana, the Italian artist likens the animalistic features to a mask or caricature. “I combine it with the silent language of our body and the cultural codes of what we wear in order to portray not only a specific individual, but also the larger groups and subcultures they belong to and, ultimately, the common habitat we all share,” he says. More Continue reading

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Digital Dancers Groove Through the Streets of Istanbul in Shape-Shifting Costumes
November 23, 2020


Directed and animated by Istanbul-based Gökalp Gönen, a camouflaged cast grooves to Ilhan Ersahin’s jazzy new track, “Hurri-Mitanni (Good News),” in a mesmerizing series of transformations. The anonymous characters don amorphous, animated costumes as they dance throughout the streets and in empty pockets of the city, morphing from a floral ensemble to an oversized figure covered in kaleidoscopic spirals to another trapped in string.
Keep up with Gönen’s lively projects on Vimeo and Instagram. More Continue reading

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Subversive and Grandiose, Kajahl’s Vivid Portraits Supplant Historical Narratives
November 20, 2020

Through his meticulously rendered portraits, Santa Cruz-born artist Kajahl subverts the tradition of Blackamoor—a highly stylized European aesthetic that visualized people of color, particularly African men, in exoticized forms and subservient roles—by instead depicting Black subjects in valorized positions. Part of a series titled Royal Specter, the vivid paintings center alchemists, scholars, astronomers, and various intellectual figures within grandiose and luxurious settings.
While the artist’s works evoke the racist sculpture and decorative pieces of Blackamoor, they remove the historical context and alter the original narrative through anachronistic details. More Continue reading

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Metaphorical Scenes Examine Mystery in Dreamy Paintings by Artist Duy Huynh
November 9, 2020

Vietnamese aritst Duy Huynh (previously) examines balance through nuanced scenes replete with ethereal, surreal elements: individual flowers ascend from a teapot, a chain winds around an artichoke heart, and figures float mid-air. Rendered in muted hues, the acrylic paintings are metaphorical and narrative-based, visualizing stories by connecting unsual symbols or positioning disparate objects together. The North Carolina-based artist gives the works witty names— “Thyme to Turnip the Beet” and “ReciprociTea,” for example—adding to their playful and whimsical natures. More Continue reading

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Photographer Spotlight: Halfdan Venlov
October 27, 2020

A selection of portraits by Copenhagan, Denmark-based photographer Halfdan Venlov. Centered around themes of youth identity, coming of age, and a feeling of “being out of step with the world”, Venlov’s images are not tied to specific narratives. Depicting young characters, he explains his intention to allow the viewer to “inhabit a space of multiple … Continued Continue reading

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Rollerskating Poodles and Croissant Characters Form an Adorably Eccentric Cast of Felt Characters by Cat Rabbit
October 23, 2020

Working out of her studio in Melbourne, textile artist Cat Rabbit (previously) felts a quirky troupe of characters complete with distinctive garb and accessories. A croissant-headed figure dons a striped skirt and floral hat, Pomeranians carry pin cushions on their backs, and four swaggering poodles outfitted with roller skates appear ready to compete in the rink.
Some of the anthropomorphized creatures are particularly personal to the artist, like the blanket-enshrouded toad (shown below) that was inspired by a friend’s love for the children’s series, Frog and Toad. More Continue reading

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Dreamy Illustrations Imagine Encapsulated Adventures and the Lives of Quirky Mushroom Characters
October 5, 2020

Hong Kong-based illustrator Ceci Lam envisions a whimsical dream world of mushroom-headed figures, adventures through tropical landscapes, and cozy nights in. Her drawings feature anonymous characters who are full of personality, whether daring and bold as they peer up at towering cacti or more subdued in their plant-filled homes.
Lam shares with Colossal that her Miss Mushy series was inspired after she spotted white-capped mushrooms on the roadside one day during her commute, a surprise considering the pollution in the area. More Continue reading

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