Since the Rorschach test, we have been urged to look beyond the ink splodge to discover the characters and symbols hidden inside our imagination.
Taking this playful notion of discovery and combining it with our unescapable urge to draw, Peng and Hu encourage us to transform the way we see the everyday ink blot with their latest creative book, Hirameki.
Artists Peng and Hu first discovered the fantastical phenomenon of Hirameki when they saw a cow with a splotch that looked just like a famous film star. They quickly realized that even the tiniest blot could be easily turned into something amazing.
Hirameki soon became an art form for everybody, where even the most inexperienced doodlers could produce hundreds of sensational scribbles, as each page challenges you to look beyond the blot and draw what you see.
Peng and Hu’s passion for collecting blots and dots of all kinds has taken over their lives.
As their colourful splashes rain down on in our Glasgow store, we caught up with them for an exclusive insight into the minds of these doodle addicts…
Hirameki means ‘Inspiration’ or 'Flash of Inspiration' in Japanese - where did your inspiration for the book come from?
The start was a colourful piece of paper full of brush marks in the studio, a piece of paper that normally would end up in the trash. But one day Hu started to play like a magician with this wonderful abstract picture, his magic wand was the pencil. So he drew a spot here and a line there and the abstracts changed into a jungle with birds, snakes, lions and so on. There was also a penguin in the jungle, so it was like a miracle, fascinating, amazing. This was the start … a real miracle. And when he was drawing he filmed with a phone this act with his left hand … so we (and our students) could watch this wonderful process.
How did this develop into a book?
After we discovered the possibilities of Hirameki and saw the enthusiasm with which our students were adopting it, we went on holiday.
Peng was on a long trip … he prepared a sketchbook full of simple watercolour spots for this trip, so he could stay in shape. When he had the urge or got bored on the beach, he took this sketchbook to find some things, faces, animals, watermelons or ice cream (because it was very hot at the beach in Spain) … It was very funny and inspiring and hence the book filled quickly.
When he met Hu again, he showed him the book, and both got really excited. We developed the seven steps of HIRAMEKI, based on that sketchbook, to teach the Art of Hirameki in a more structural way. We made an appointment with [the German publisher] Antje Kunstmann, who got immediately infected with the Hirameki virus. The rest is history.
What is the intention of the book, was it always the intention to encourage everyone to enjoy doodling?
The intention is to offer a collection of different spots with some very simple poems or some drawings for help - to find different solutions. But only help, no order. Inspiration to draw without rules. Hirameki has no rules. Everything is possible, and possibilities are everything. The real masters of the art of Hirameki would break any rule anyway.
There is the trend to paint into a colouring book, these books are bestseller and the bookstores are full with them. Our Hirameki gives inspirations; it makes people happy, and sparks creativity. It is a way to recover a haptical part of the world. It’s open to so many directions and people, who like to play with their imaginations.
How do adults and children approach it differently - is there is a difference?
Kids need no instruction. They generally don't hesitate to start and they really find incredible things. To the adults we say… Do it like the kids, don't hesitate, just start.
The splashes of colour appear random, but I imagine they were all carefully selected. Can you talk us through how you create your colourful marks?
It’s not so easy… because when we are painting spots it is important not to think in a direction. So the best way is to paint and paint and paint … and after some days we do the first look on the results. We try to get as results interesting, wonderful, colourful, pages full of possibilities to find some things, peoples, animals or other stuff.
How did you decide on the different themes throughout the book and narrow down which dots and splots make the final cut?
It's simple … we have a big studio, there we lay down the pictures and we are looking for the best of them. The themes we find in a dialogue … we discuss our ideas and try to find a dramaturgy. It is a long and intensive process like a boxing match with a lot of rounds.
Hirameki in Glasgow
From Thursday 23rd June Hirameki will be taking over our Glasgow Art Space with splashes of ink, acrylic and colour. Pick up a pen in store and unlock your imagination as ink blots are transformed into cats, birds, umbrellas... wherever your imagination takes you.
Share your doodles with us on our social channels using the #Hirameki.
Admission is free. Exhibition is open from Thursday 23rd June to Saturday 23 July
To find out more about the Interactive Exhibition: Hirameki 'Draw What You See" visit our Events & Workshops page.
Discover the world of Peng & Hu pusblished by Thames & Hudson and "Draw What You See" with Hirameki here.
Get creative the Doodle-way and shop all creative drawing books here.
Find out more about Peng & Hu and Hiramkei on their website.