Dominic (left) Nicholas (right) on a study trip in Uzbekistan to visit socialist architecture.
It took us seven years to decide to release this small number of fine-art prints, but we were persuaded by the quality of modern-day printing and the demand from our clients.
With the virus epidemic we had time to think about releasing the prints and although likely as not we will go back to the same old, same old… we still believe it is still possible for a (relatively) beautiful future.
We had held onto the art since 2008 waiting for the correct event to launch the project. It wasn’t until Beijing Design Week in 2013 that we decided to exhibit the artworks and overnight it went viral.
We were staggered at the popularity of the images and the way the Chinese took the art to their hearts, partly because of the beauty of the pieces but also because of the questions it raised of where the country was heading – was this socialist utopia China’s version of the ‘American Dream’? The art opened a lot of debates and questions, and became a massive sensation.
I (Nick) met the artists for The Beautiful Future several times during the process of developing Dominic’s and my sketches. They are academically trained artists and the ones we selected had specialized in illustrative design. They are highly skilled but certainly, for them, it was an unusual project.
We gave them sufficient material to work from – our sketches gave the structure of the paintings plus photographic images of buildings etc but we left the rest up to them. The only feedback we had was that the artists found it an unusual project, but enjoyable.
To speak on behalf of North Koreans is out of my remit. I imagine it is on the same lines as anyone else anywhere on the planet – individual dreams tend not to differ around the world.
We made a documentary film “A State of Mind” in North Korea in 2003 following the dreams and aspirations of two young gymnasts in the lead up to the Mass Games.
Apart from their wish/duty to perform in front of their leader their basic family values were the same as would be found in almost any other society.
BELOW: The artwork has been used in numerous publications and continues to circulate.