The stress of Covid-19 times, coupled with quarantine, is making us all feel isolated and well, a little stir-crazy. Mat Bisher, creative director at McCann in New York, wanted to document this creatively and hopefully help in some "small" way.
So he wrote the characters of quarantine, what he calls Quaranoids, and asked artists from around the world to figuratively and illustrate each one. "Even though some of us may be alone, stressed and neurotic, we are all living this experience," says Mat. "The hope is that when people see themselves or others in one of the Quaranoid characters, they feel a sense of community, and can laugh and share."
Currently, sixteen characters are coming to life with twelve incredibly talented illustrators, including MC Wolfman, Fabio Buonocore, Guacala Illustration Studio, Tim Easley, Clare Mallison, Serge Seidlitz, Derek Marks, Ali Mac, Allan Ohr, and Max Prentis. "The goal is to keep adding characters as long as people enjoy them (I think of new ones every hour) and new artists are reaching out every day," adds Mat.
Featured characters include Hoardenoid, illustrated by MC Wolfman with a description that reads: "He's the source of toilet paper shortage, has two palettes of chilli and Omaha Steaks refers to him as 'that guy again'. Nobody's going to convince this Quaranoid that in a global viral pandemic 56 gallons of mayonnaise won't help."
Then there's Guacala Illustration Studio's depiction of Germanoid, who was "always a neat freak, but the virus has legitimised his fears". I think we can all relate a little to Streamanoid, illustrated by Tim Easley, a "half humanoid half lounge chair" where "sixty hours of The Wire was just a warm-up for his marathon".
There are more Quaranoids left to illustrate, and if you want to bring one to life, you can browse through the available characters on Mat's dedicated Quaranoids site.
One waiting to be illustrated is Pollyannanoid. "She is one of those people that believes that this virus has been for the best and the human race will emerge completely changed for the better because of it," says Mat. "I don't know that I completely subscribe to that. I think humans have a pretty predictable ability to revert to status quo behaviour as soon as circumstances return. Still, I do hope we emerge on the other side of this with all of us knowing that ultimately we are a collectively fragile species, and we are a bit more grateful."
Are there any characters Mat feels closest? "I can tell you the first ones fell out of me right away when I started writing them: Hoardenoid, Teachanoid, Boozenoid, Germanoid and Weaponoid, but I truly do love them all. Every time an illustrator's piece shows up in my inbox, it's like Christmas. I can't say enough about the global illustration community. They are incredible, and I encourage everyone out there in the creative community to please use them for your commissioned projects."