Pucker Up

Idealism, nihilism, hope, angst. Somehow Thai illustrator Puck manages to squeeze all these feelings into one dense digital painting at a time. At once comical, mournful, and inspiring, he tackles difficult subjects like anti-war messaging, feelings of despair and self-loathing, and urban disrepair all matched with trippy Thai references, a fumbling sense of humor, and meme culture in a style that’s fun, fulfilling, and relatable all at once.

Puck, whose full name is Tripuck Supawattana, got his start in the art world illustrating mangas but left that behind for his current style about five years ago when the rise of NFT culture totally changed his outlook on art. “NFTs changed my life a lot,” he says. It made him look within himself and figure out how to express what he felt through his art. The financial stability and community support that the scene offered inspired him to be his best self and really push his style in a new direction. “It provides some peace of mind.” In addition to his collectible digital art, he also does large-scale illustration jobs and paints some canvases as well. “I have the ability to be really selective about the projects that I accept now.”

Puck has an easily identifiable style; a rough, dirty comic approach in the vein of someone like Harry Crumb. It’s a bit awkward but energetic and dense, full of engaging characters like a drunk motorcycle taxi driver and the homeless man living in a box. Obscene scenes unfold around them, where an old couple fuck on a balcony and a dude pushes another guy out of a third-floor window in the background.

But Puck refuses to limit himself to an exact style, preferring instead to try out a number of different but related ideas. “I believe artists should be free and do whatever they want,” he explains. “The style or identity of the artist will be mixed up in the work until it becomes one big piece when viewed together.” At first glance, it’s surprising to see comic book-style panels, soft shading here and rough, two-tone shading there, or monochrome depictions of hell right alongside multicolor epics. But when all placed together, the motifs and similarities start to come together.

The one style that really highlights Puck’s works are the detailed and dense pieces overflowing with numerous characters and references. He views them as a type of collage, combining different ideas and memories into one large scene. They’re to be based on photos he’s taken or found online, reimagined in his own image.

Often there are recurring characters, like the World Boy and the SawReal Rabbit, who are rooted in specific ideas of Pucks’s. The rabbit started as a T-shirt brand that he’d hide as a small Easter egg in paintings and grew into a main character. But World Boy is about life on our planet that can be interpreted in different ways. “What have you done to the world?” he asks. “Are you fed up with it? One day it may be gloomy, another it might reveal the beauty within it. The world is how you view it.”