Gather around, guys, it’s embarrassing confessions time! I’m pretty sure that 95% of people reading this are going to feel completely identified with my story, since I think it’s something we all go through at least once in our life. In my particular case, it happened way too many times and with the same person. You know the drill: you like someone, you try to make a move, they don’t respond to it, and you move on. Well, not in my case; I made a move and even if the person wasn’t interested, I continued insisting. Yes, I know, kind of humiliating, but hey, that happens sometimes.
The embarrassing part wasn’t that.You know what they say: don't drink and text. Well, it seems I didn’t get the memo, and naturally I sent some quite distressing and inconvenient messages. After being condescendingly dumped, I naturally got very bummed out for a while. But at least it all happened over texts, so it wasn't as humiliating as it could've been.
It seems like this is now the rule for dating and relationships. Not necessarily being dumped as horribly as I was, but experiencing these realities through social media and technology. Words in the written form, especially read on a screen, have become a new kind of tool or norm for relationships, and Nono Radke is well aware of this. His illustrations aren't only mesmerizing for their quality, but also quite relatable, especially for our generation. However, they're more profound than just mere depictions of the new realities of love. They go to the core of this universal feeling.
Together with the essence of love, there are other emotions we all feel and, because love barely like it does in fairytales and movies, darkness plays a huge role. Sorrow and despair can taint our emotional life and make us feel completely alone in the enormity of this world. No matter how many millions of people inhabit the world, when our hearts are hurt we feel as if we were standing at the top of the most remote mountain. We become self-immersed beings and loneliness takes over our lives. Many of Radke’s illustrations explore those moments of heartbreak and despair we all experience at some point in our life. More importantly, Radke reminds us what sometimes we want to forget: love isn’t always such a wonderful experience, but something way more complex.
He doesn't just merge words with images to say love is painful since that would be quite simple and would lack consistency. Instead, he confronts a light and tender imagery styled with elements depicting pain to show us that complexity I’ve been talking about. He uses typical ideas of love and relationships and depicts them with symbols representing those moments we wish to forget. For instance, his illustrations about love's blindness are quite interesting and severe. They not only portray that common place of people not seeing what happens around them when they’re in love. Instead it confronts the fact that blindness can have dark tendencies and consequences. Sometimes we’re so involved in the feelings we have for the other person that we fail to see where the other is standing in the relationship.
The most important thing about Nono Radke’s illustrations is the lesson behind them, or at least the interpretation we can give to them. Yes, love can shatter us and send us to that top of the mountain where we feel alone, but it’s something we inevitably have to go through in order to move on. More importantly, they show us that those moments are just a portrayal of a more natural phenomenon, just like every atom working together inside us and in everything the universe is made of. No matter how lonely or far away you are from others, at the end of the day, there’s a purpose of you being there. Love, relationships, and emotions are just part of that great and invisible machinery we call life.
If you want to see more of his digital illustrations, check out his official Instagram profile: @nonoradke