Argyle sweaters. Burning buildings. Autumn strolls. The operating table.
Awash in shades of pea green, Mint S. Decot’s world is filled with moments of sleepy tranquility and horrific tragedy — more often than not, these moods overlap to form a pervasive sense of detachment. Ranging from oil pastels to animation to smeared digital portraiture, the Illinois-based artist’s body of work documents the lives of an eccentric cast of characters. There’s the gloomy, haloed Parasite Loveche, a former pop star and professional wrestler. There’s the perpetually anxious Dr. Sunrosa, whose maternal instincts are as distinct as her taste for plastic flowers. And there are large, lethargic shrimp. Lots of them.
You can’t help but feel like an observer posted off-screen in each of Decot’s illustrations. Lone subjects glance at the proverbial camera as if to acknowledge our presence: baggy eyes and shoulder slumps are a constant, yet not once does a character appear resigned to defeat. Even the scene of a smoldering car crash exudes warmth, as if the hunk of steel were a hearth.
I spoke to Mint Decot over Twitter about the images that inform their work. Read our conversation below:
(conducted 1.20.19 via twitter dm)
Over the past couple of years, you've developed a visual world that feels overcast and gloomy, yet also cozy and inviting. What sort of scenes, textures or colors in the real world inspire your work?
A few years ago I moved to an area in Illinois that can get really foggy. I don’t know what it is or why it happens, but waking up in the mornings to a wall of fog out of every window feels like living inside of a cloud. Other places I find interesting are man-made landscapes, decrepit buildings and industrial disasters. They feel weirdly cozy to me in a way, reminding me of my hometown.
There are also quite a few recurring characters that appear in your work, like Dr Sunrosa and Parasite Loveche. Where did they come from? What can you tell us about them?
Dr. Sunrosa and Parasite are both characters that first started as Miis I created in Miitomo. Based off the clothing I gave them in-game, I wrote stories about them. Dr Sunrosa is a friendly scientist who enjoys taking care of shrimp-looking creatures called Shrimpules.
Parasite Loveche is an eccentric dead celebrity whose story will be told soon in a video. They are both part of the same world, each representing opposite lifestyles. I am writing more about them, and plan to produce more content involving them this year.
You seem to be really fascinated miis and their miiverse. What about them interests you?
I think that they’re so adorable! They’re essentially like little virtual dolls. Miitomo is no longer around, but the game was basically a social network combined with a dress-up game. After it was announced that Miitomo would be ending, the attachment to the Miis I had created had grown stronger, as if I was losing a family I spent so long caring for. It’s a shame that we won’t likely see another game involving Miis in that way again.
What other games are you into? I've seen you draw animal crossing stuff before.
My main thing right now is Smash Bros, I can't get enough of playing Pac Man. I'm also into the Yakuza series games at the moment, Source engine games, and Touhou. I want to get into more cute life-sim games like Animal Crossing but nothing has filled that void yet.
How often do you draw/paint? It seems like your work has gotten larger in scope and more detailed over the past year or so.
I try to draw and paint everyday, with a day or two off to gather my thoughts. It wasn’t until about last year that I really decided to take it seriously, getting better tools and more interesting mediums to work with. Drawing is very therapeutic to me now, especially now that it is a part of my daily routine.
What initially got you interested in making art?
I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t drawing something. As a kid I would always be making little stick figure comics on lined paper and giving them to my friends to read. I would eventually start doing little animations using Mspaint and Windows Movie Maker, and then just naturally progressed since then. It’s always been a part of my life and I hope it will continue to be in the future.
You also produce music as mintsyrup. How do you approach writing ambient music and what sort of images do you want to convey with it? What have you been listening to lately?
Writing music at first felt like trying to emulate other artists I enjoyed, then turned toward a process of trying to create a sound that accompanies an image. The images I usually try to want the sounds to accompany are quiet and natural settings, places I find pleasant and comfortable. Though I haven't done any music in almost 2 years, the genres and artists I found most inspiring were new age, chamber music, experimental ambient stuff, and J-Pop like Vangelis, Rachel's, Oneohtrix, and Macaroom.
In the art book for your most recent album, medicine, you write about your work's relationship with mental health. How as art served as medicine in your own life?
After a few failures in 2017, I didn't leave my house for weeks at a time, took almost no care of myself and had fallen to apathy and anxiety. I never sought help, and was afraid to. I looked toward myself, toward the internet, and toward my friends, and went back to drawing like I had been doing growing up. Art has a complicated relationship for many, but simplifying it to a mutually beneficial relationship really does, in essence, make it feel like a medicine. A lot of this is really difficult to put into words, but keeping my mind occupied with things that could bring others joy leaves little room for other things. I feel like I am in a better place since, and I owe a lot to the people who have supported me along the way as well.