Xi Nan's cheerful and 'naive' illustrations act as an antidote to life's challenges

When Xi Nan is struggling or feeling anxious, she cheers herself up by creating digital, often surreal paintings full of warmth and naivety. "It makes my life more optimistic and joyful," the Tokyo-based designer and illustrator explains.

That approach has certainly helped during the global pandemic this year, as Xi has found comfort in creating lots of bright and cheerful artworks. "It's like meditation, mental yoga which is good for the spirit," she says. "I want to record ordinary or even unpleasant things in daily life and whimsically express them."

In fact, some of her recent illustrations (also shown here) are part of a series entitled, 'Hey, You're Finally Awake!' are about "imagining I was in a coma and had suddenly woken up after being in another world for years," as she puts it. "All I've been through so far were dreams, who are they, and what should I do."

Originally from China, Xi has lived all over the world: America, Germany, Kenya and now Japan. It's this experience that she says inspires her work: "Everywhere I've lived has entirely different vibes and lifestyles. I'm always trying out a variety of art styles, combining them throughout my work – just like fusion food."

Aside from her paintings and illustrations, Xi Nan also specialises in animation and brings many of her digital artworks to life: we especially love the moving cover for The Tokyoiter, Japan's own creative tribute to The New Yorker and The Parisianer, founded by British illustrator Andrew Joyce, French art director David Robert, and Japanese illustrator and creative director Tatsushi Eto. Discover more of Xi Nan's work at nanxii.com.


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