What if gods were to move among us? A concept revisited time and again, the question is a catalyst for a thousand imaginings.
In Norse mythology, the hammer-wielding, lightning-throwing god Thor harbored a soft spot for our puny kind and was notorious for shacking up with scores of human lovers.
In China, everyone’s favorite mythological trickster Sun Wukong flitted among humans, deities, and demons with equal familiarity. His (mis)adventures on Earth are chronicled in the 16th-century epic Journey to the West, one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels (四大名著).
In Lima, Peru, an agnostic couple are approaching the question with new vigor.
‘Shooketh’ by 21st-century culture in all its pop and plastic glory, Jumping Lomo’s Wacky Gods are less concerned with famine and fertility and more obsessed with ‘likes.’
The series’ five deities range from Wacky TikTok Goddess of Gossip Pheme, who is rarely seen without her selfie stick, to Wacky God of Music and Party Lil’ Shiva, whose presence is paramount to an epic night out.
Albeit being inspired by a pantheon of gods, the artist duo known as Jumping Lomo identify as agnostic
Fine art faculty members turned collaborators, creators Guillermo Fajardo (from Lima, Peru) and Jieying Li (born in Guangzhou, China) have run Jumping Lomo since 2013.
While the character design and art studio’s previous characters were commercialized by way of collectible toys, wearable pins, and household accessories, its founders — like their imagined gods — are evolving and have recently embraced digital assets. Wacky Gods marks their first NFT art series.
“NFT art is not a thing [in Peru] yet,” says Fajardo of the medium, which puts them ahead of the game in their part of the world.
RADII recently spoke with Li and Fajardo to learn more about Jumping Lomo, their artistic process, and their quirky gods:
RADII: Jumping Lomo’s colorful characters are clearly inspired by sacred supernatural beings. Talk to us about the role of religion in your lives.
Guillermo Fajardo: Like every kid in Latin America, I attended a Christian school, but I am not a practitioner. What I appreciate are ancient cultures, complete with their deities and beliefs. Their tales and traditions illustrate early mankind’s understanding of their place and purpose in the world. This was a time when men didn’t abuse their resources and were grateful for the day, the night, and the seas — so grateful that they interpreted forces of nature as gods. The same pattern emerged across many different cultures.
Jieying Li: I grew up in an atheist home, so the way I was brought up was very different from Guillermo. I consider myself agnostic, maybe spiritual, in that I try to be more mindful with my choices and actions. Wacky Gods is our ode to human evolution, our definition of self-fulfillment in a crazy, fast-evolving, over-the-top world marked by 21st-century pop culture, and our recognition of man’s lost connection with the Earth. Wacky Gods is our ‘what if’ bringing the best of both worlds — ancient and modern — together.
Jieying Li and Guillermo Fajardo’s imagined alter egos
RADII: Do the two of you have clear-cut roles at Jumping Lomo?
GF: In a way. Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. For example, when it comes to handmade illustrations, I’ll start with the drawing, and Jieying will finish by painting. In fact, she does almost all the coloring and is best at painting by hand.
We investigate and design together. Designing is not only drawing but also trying to solve graphic problems such as synthesizing symbols and iconography and deciding what makes a piece work, especially with regard to three-dimensional objects like mugs, badges, or sculptures.
JL: Guillermo is always hyped to make art toys and new pieces. He’s definitely the dreamer and the risk-taker of the team. I, on the other hand, keep our feet on the ground by eyeing our budget and making the not-so-fun decisions. It is not easy to make a living from art, which requires making tough but important choices.
Our graphic style has definitely evolved with us. We have been doing this for a while now, so we certainly don’t create in the same way as when we first started. I’d like to believe that we are a bit better now [laughs]. Instead of marrying two different styles, our artistic experimentations and processes are complementary.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Jumping Lomo (@jumping.lomo)
A post shared by Jumping Lomo (@jumping.lomo)
RADII: What inspired the name Jumping Lomo?
JY: It’s a funny story. Back in 2013, Jumping Lomo was meant to be a backup name, at least until we thought of something better, but it has stuck.
GF: ‘Lomo saltado’ (Spanish), ‘jumping lomo’ (Spanglish), or ‘jumping beef’ is a very popular sautéed dish in Peru. The idea came from my childhood memories of cross-country road trips. When driving from one town to another in Peru, most people find themselves eating at small, touristy restaurants. English translations of the specialties at such places might be called ‘jumping beef’ or ‘chest stainer’ — none of which give you a good sense of what you are about to eat. Created in Peru but influenced by the Chinese diaspora, lomo saltado perfectly represents our cross-cultural studio.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Wacky Gods (@wacky_gods)
A post shared by Wacky Gods (@wacky_gods)
RADII: While it probably isn’t fair for parents to pick a ‘favorite child,’ which Wacky God are you particularly fond of and why?
JY: Cat Lady Bastet is — no doubt — the one whom I most identify with. Bastet was very important to [ancient] Egyptians, as she protected their homes from sickness and bad spirits. We pictured her as an introvert who prefers staying at home and enjoying the simpler things in life, like spending time with her rescues, caring for her plants, binging TV shows, and online shopping. She reminds me of carefree childhood days spent lying on the couch and watching Garfield, Sailor Moon, or other cartoons. Unbothered by the opinions of others and confident in her own skin, Bastet might look sassy but is always there when you need her.
GF: My favorite will always be Aia Paec. Not only did the Peruvian god from the Mochica civilization devour his enemies’ heads, but I’m proud of the creative route we’ve taken. I mean, we turned a merciless creature into a big bearded foodie who loves rock concerts and feasting on food from all over the world. As foodies ourselves, the Wacky God was fun to reimagine. Our Aia Paec is like that one friend who seems hardcore but is just a big softie at heart.
RADII: The deities in your Wacky Gods NFT series boast better street style than most people. I especially love the little ‘tofu’ badge pinned to the Eco-King’s surfer tank top.
GF: Thank you. I admit that they’re snappier dressers than I am. Jumping Lomo’s creation process is preceded by a long period of investigation. This time is spent learning about ancient traditions and tales and thinking up modern archetypes that fit each god’s personality.
JY: Imagining each deity’s story was so much fun! With the Dragon Eco-King, for example, we wondered: How would the once King of Weather react to global warming? He would probably play his part for the planet by being a vegan activist. And as a dragon who’s prone to aggression, he would need to keep his temper in check, so we imagined him as a mindful yogi.
Storytelling leads us on searches for suitable iconography — such as the green ribbon, an international symbol for mental health awareness, and the tofu badge, which displays his stance on meat consumption.
Better known in the Americas at present, Jumping Lomo is working on growing its audience in Asia.
Cue artist agency Cross Studio, a godsend to Li and Fajardo. In addition to helping them realize their Wacky Gods NFT series, the marketing specialists will incarnate a Jumping Lomo sculpture in Shanghai in the second half of 2022.
Cross Studio co-founder Ken Wang, who hails from Hong Kong, has hinted: “One of Jumping Lomo’s most iconic characters will be given a few modern touches. The contrast between mythology and modernism really makes it stand out. We are very excited about it.”
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity
All images courtesy of Jumping Lomo
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