Kai and Sunny’s Whirlwind of Time is a new series of artworks made with ballpoint pens.

Can You Guess What the Artists Used to Create These Mesmerizing Works?

Can You Guess What the Artists Used to Create These Mesmerizing Works?

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
March 2 2016 8:39 AM

Can You Guess What the Artists Used to Create These Mesmerizing Works?

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“Continued Wave” by U.K. artist due Kai and Sunny

Kai and Sunny

U.K.-based artist duo Kai and Sunny have made a new series of mesmerizing artworks using that staple of office supply cabinets everywhere: the lowly ballpoint pen.

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“Changing Weather”

Kai and Sunny

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“Turning Wave”

Kai and Sunny

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“Passage of Time”

Kai and Sunny

The award-winning artists have exhibited their work in solo shows in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. They have collaborated with Alexander McQueen and Shepard Fairey, and they’ve designed book covers for British novelist David Mitchell.

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“Spin Circle”

Kai and Sunny

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“Vasarely Circle”

Kai and Sunny

Kai told me in an email that their previous work was black and white, drawn in lines in black pen or pencil. Once they started adding “hints of colour” to their large-format print work, they decided to experiment with creating entire images from colored ballpoint pens. Kai said they used regular ballpoint pens but that they had sourced a number of nuanced colors from Japan for the recent series.

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“Split Circle”

Kai and Sunny

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Close-up of “Split Circle”

Kai and Sunny

The new works are part of “Whirlwind of Time” at London’s Stolen Space Gallery that runs until April 3. A project description summarizes their work as “stylised imagery of nature, reducing natural forms to geometric patterns.” The new series of more linear and vibrantly colored work is made using single lines of ballpoint pen to build up complex images that “[revolve] around the passage of time” and explore “the turning of tides, changing weather and time for reflection.”  

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The artists designed four skate decks produced by Element that will be sold at the opening reception.

Kai and Sunny

Kai described their current work as “a very controlled process working on colour layers and plotting out our direction,” he said. “We’ve always worked in lines. We feel it makes you only use what you need. The new series is a development of our previous pen works but trying to keep pushing what's possible,” he said, “in scale, colour or line detail.”

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.