Mini markets

Lauren Ly’s obsession with convenience stores spills over into Japanese ukiyo-e illustrations

Looking closely at Lauren Ly’s highly detailed illustrations reminds us of those pictures we loved to draw as children of fun factories, whimsical shops and conveyor belts, imagining colorful worlds from our overflowing imaginations. Only, in the case of The Convenience Store, we see a cartoon shop in dreamy pinks and blues, with every thoughtful line and interesting layer nodding to the artist’s experience in architecture. It’s a subject she studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna under Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima until she moved to London and chose to become an illustrator instead.

With architecture in mind, this particular design features a depiction of the classic Japanese garden – a feature that became popular during the Edo period – fused in a clash with more modern iconography than one might associate with simple markings. sweets and drinks. “I’m obsessed with mini-marts,” Lauren told Creative Boom. “Especially the 711s in Hong Kong and Japan. Being of Chinese descent but born and raised in the UK, visiting these stores is both familiar and new. Being in these convenience stores, I am surrounded by the flavors of my childhood seaweed, matcha, salty fish sauce and sweet and unhealthy lychee drinks It’s a small world full of perfectly packaged and perfectly aligned products.



Hot © Lauren Ly

Pit City © Lauren Ly



Pit City © Lauren Ly

Pit City © Lauren Ly



Pit City © Lauren Ly

Lauren believes that there is a universal comfort derived from “shopping to feel good”, which is only exemplified by Sayaka Murata’s novel Convenience Store Woman. It’s a story she tends to refer to through her illustrations. “How amazing to have such convenience at your fingertips, but it’s kind of sinister at the same time; to think of the secret mechanisms that work to promote mindless consumerism and meaningless brand loyalty.”

As well as drawing references from historic architecture to create her works, many enjoy a dash of satire on modern consumerism, capitalism, and the “ubiquitous product brand,” as she puts it. His illustrations use a garish color palette, solid lines, and intricate detail to mimic the modern poppy world of advertising and graphic design. But there’s also a hint of ukiyo-e – the kind of Japanese art that translates to “pictures of the floating world”. This whimsical and dreamy approach makes Lauren’s art so appealing.

Forest of Consumables © Lauren Ly



Forest of Consumables © Lauren Ly

Toad © Lauren Ly



Toad © Lauren Ly

In another work, Lauren brings us Steamy – a piece that sees an alluring woman in the back of some sort of invented vehicle, surrounded by the fumes of a bustling city and nearby traffic lights, promising all sorts of delights. culinary. In another, titled Toadette, we see a more surreal side to his work with a mushroom-like figure staring directly at us, surrounded by a field of classic red and white speckled mushrooms. The Forest of Consumables, meanwhile, goes back to its love of modern culture: “Boiled Crab. Hotels pay by the hour. Vintage movie clubs. Painkillers and psychedelics. Happy hour cocktails. Virtual mornings. Fried cod. White Rabbit. Pani puri. Bubble tea. Cheap ramen. Love,” reads the description.

Although his illustrations have an underlying cynicism, some are noticeably darker than others. Take Pit City, for example. An imaginary world sitting atop a floating rock, its description reads: “The curse of kodoku ensnares the wretched souls of ancient humans and transforms them into bestial forms. Cursed for an eternity, they fight for their survival in the pit, a decaying world adrift through the endless void.”

You might agree that Lauren’s wallet has a lot more at stake. Take a look for yourself and have fun peeling back the many layers to meowtide.com or follow her on instagram.