Spellbinding Visuals: Magical Book Artwork Tells Surrealistic Stories

A series of book-centric illustrations (now collected into one big ‘book of books’) by Seoul artist Jungho Lee explores realms of impossibility through the deconstruction and re-imagining of bound volumes. Each surrealistic piece pushes the limits of plausibility in different ways, challenging the viewer to read complex stories into deceptively simple-looking drawings.

book architecture

book bending warped

book fishing

Winner of the World Illustration Awards for 2016, Lee is a Korean artist whose dreamlike work is often featured both on the covers of and within books for children or adults. The illustrations shown here are some of the 21 submitted for the competition and also included in the book Promenade, a collection published by Sang Publishing early this year.

book door

book image

book memory

Lee’s mixed-media approach includes “charcoal, water colour, gouache, hot-pressed papers and computer” graphics. He cites surrealist René Magritte and German artist Quint Buchholz as sources of inspiration for composition, messaging, lighting and angle of observation choices.

book plane wing

book pie

book surrealism

Lee starts with a basic image or rough sketch on large-format paper, usually using graphite or charcoal. Then he scans in the work and begins digital manipulations. Sometimes he goes back and forth, printing to paper to add more layers manually.

book lighthouse

book hike

book deconstructed

While his pictures span a variety of types, styles and subjects, much of his recent work specifically revolves around the manipulation of book-related imagery, expressing the contents of volumes without any use of text. If the series continues, he may create a followup volume to Promenade featuring further works of bookish art.