Inner Light

The artwork of Thai illustrator Sidehouse Sunshine is a mix of psychedelia, local customs, and musical influences captured in a bright and bold styleβ€”something like a wikiHow for the enlightened. He mixes two-tone shading and high-contrast color schemes with paper textures and comic panels. In one piece, Songkran cleansing water is mixed with LSD, and in another kratom and an energy drink are positioned next to a laborer working from dusk to dawn.

Sidehouse chose his artistic alias as a psychedelic interpretation of manifesting your own happiness: the house is your heart and mind, and the sunshine is the light that reaches them. “Actually, I just like being at home and came up with the name while watering the plants next to my house,” he laughs. He started working in his current style in 2020, and when he got an iPad the next year with the goal of pursuing it exclusively, his path was set. Previously he was making collage work under the alias EYEAH, but he hasn’t looked back since.

Music is an overarching theme for Sidehouse. He’s a DJ and producer for Pissawong Records and has made flyers for them and the Summer Sound festival. It’s also a major feature in his personal work, primarily through his Sound Medicine series. It features everything from turntables and production hardware to Jamaican sound systems and Indian instrumentation all situated next to drugs and plant life.

Substances are another central component of Sidehouse’s work. “My first use of magic mushrooms was a turning point in my life,” he says. “It’s part of why I created this new identity.” He often compares psychedelia to religious philosophies like Buddhist meditation. “I’ve seen both the benefits and the disadvantages. Take care of yourself, your health, your diet, and your mindfulness.”

Capturing local culture is another unique feature. Walking around Thailand, you see so many things on a daily basis, but they’re rarely captured in art. When was the last time you saw young peppercorn or bird’s eye chili in a painting? “I want to tell stories that I truly know and understand. These stories are embedded in my DNA,” Sidehouse explains. He says these aspects of local life are often overlooked because traditional Thai art focuses instead on the beautiful and transcendent, but things are starting to change for the better.

The characters that Sidehouse draws are almost always naked and hairless. “It’s a symbol of freedom and equality,” he explains. “Hairstyles, outfits, and gender sometimes divide us into groups. I want everyone to be able to relate.” In the end, he hopes viewers will look inside themselves. “Learn how to talk to yourself. Correct what you’re not satisfied with. We’re all human, and I’m no different from you.”