Bakeanoid by Rebecca Green

When art imitates life

By Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Updated: 23 October, 2020 10:15 IST

A global illustration project captures the different kinds of people who have emerged during quarantine

Pokemon and the conversations he was having with friends about how they were coping with stress during quarantine, led Mat Bisher to think of a rather unusual idea for a project. Bisher, the executive creative director at McCann New York, was struck by how everyone was engaged in the pursuit of specific interests during this difficult times — be it baking, knitting or hoarding toilet paper.

So, he decided to call them 'Quaranoids' (a term that was neither used on social media nor had been trademarked) and initiate a creative project by the same name that's hosted on a website. Each Quaranoid has been illustrated by artists from around the world, including India, and is accompanied by a short description written by Bisher. It is easy to relate to or find yourself in every Quaranoid — the Bakeanoid who is carb-loading, the Knitanoid who will send you a scarf or Hoardenoid who will not be convinced of the futility of 56 gallons of mayonnaise.

Apart from Limaye, the project features Bengaluru-based Mounica Tata who has created Plantanoid; Bakeanoid by Rebecca Green and Newsanoid by Max Prentis

Deb Archambault, executive producer at McCann, helped with reaching out to the illustrators. There are over 30 artworks on the website so far and more will be rolling in, including the Walkanoid by Pune-based artist Chaitanya Limaye. About conceptualising the Quaranoids, Bisher says, "As time has gone on, I continue to think of new ones on a daily or weekly basis, just by human observation, or I will see something in the news, or read something about how people are having strange dreams during quarantine etc." He then surfs the Internet or Instagram to find artists whose style matches his vision of the character. Sometimes, he reaches out to them just because he loves their work without even having a character in mind. And less often, the artists themselves also come up with a character in mind, for which he needs to write the text for.

Newsanoid by Max Prentis

The response has been unexpected for Bisher. Having launched the project in May, he still is posting at least one Quaranoid a week. And the interest expressed by the artist community in participating in his endeavour has served as the fuel to keep it going. "The illustrators represent 19 countries on all continents, except Antarctica. I hope the participation of so many varied artists in such different parts of the globe is proof that ultimately we aren't that different. We are all just humanoids doing whatever we can to keep it together, with a shared value for toilet paper," he quips.

Mat Bisher

As for how the project evolves in the post-pandemic world, assuming we get there at all, Bisher says that, much like the rest of the world, he is just trying to get through today. He also tells us that many have suggested turning the project into a coffee table book and he's open to the idea. "I do think about if/when I should stop. Has the moment passed? Are people tired of hearing about quarantine and living their lives this way? Is it over when there is a vaccine? You can spin yourself in circles with that stuff, so I try to practise a simple rule — as long as people continue to follow and seem to be getting something out of them [the Quaranoids], I'll keep making new ones," he says. And isn't that the creative spirit we need right now, anyway?

Log on to; @quaranoids on Instagram

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First Published: 23 October, 2020 07:42 IST

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