Distinctive, playful, and populated with a menagerie of strange creatures, Thai-born freelance illustrator Duairak Padungvichean's art is a quirky joy to behold. Calling to mind the fantastical worlds of Maurice Sendak, her work spans animations, 3D pictures, and even rugs.
"My works are usually whimsical, magical, and a little awkwardly weird," says Duairak, a 2020 illustration graduate from Rhode Island School of Design who is currently based in Los Angeles. Part of the charm of her work is how it defies cliches, with awkwardness being communicated through strange beasts with long snouts who either stride through landscapes while wearing pants and pearls or spend their time cowering in a butter dish.
"I've taken inspiration from the natural form and environments I've been in, so a lot of time, you can see my work change a little depending on where I am at any given moment," Duairak tells Creative Boom. The strength of her aesthetic, though, lies in that she can be inspired by her nomadic life without becoming lost in it: "I like to carry the same style and theme throughout all of my works no matter what medium it is."
Working across many different mediums, including traditional watercolours, digital platforms, sculpture and many more, Duairak's art is a joyous, creative explosion that seems like it has one foot in our world and another in a fabled, surreal domain all of its own. Automata sculptures of dancing sardines cut from aluminium sit alongside illustrations of creatures that only appear in dreams. Yet, the whole collection hangs together in a way that seems strangely cohesive.
She adds: "I really enjoy making fun images that would either make people laugh or feel happy by looking at them." For us, they certainly do. And if you're similarly enamoured with Duairak's style, her creations are available to buy from her store as patches, calendars, and even specially commissioned rugs. (We've got our eyes on the angry cloud.)