Painting on Cardboard – Coronavirus stories

paintings on cardboard of inspiring stories

As Coronavirus took hold of Korea in February, I started seeing a LOT more cardboard boxes put out for recycling on the street. Social distancing had people, including myself, ordering more online instead of going to the store. All the piles of boxes reminded me of an artist I met at the Seoul Art Book Fair last year, Tsukue Akimoto.

Ejacke, Art book by Tsukue Akimoto

He is a cartoonist and collage artist who, among other mediums, draws and collages on cardboard. He explained he got his interesting boxes from the supermarket, as a lot of produce is imported from other countries. My heart leaped in delight at his at his quirky, upcycling work, and I have been wanting to try something similar ever since.

It only took a pandemic and a nation changing its spending habits to finally get my butt into gear. I kept my eyes open for any interesting-looking boxes, but none really inspired me. That is, until I got pizza to go one day. (If you’re ever in Seoul, Monster Pizza near Hongdae station has pretty good pizza by the slice.) Pizza, you are delicious and also my muse.

Monster Pizza

Poster paint on pizza box, 2020

I shared this little dude on Instagram, and my IG friend Dominque at 3Cstyle suggested to make it into a series about what was happening in people’s lives because of the virus. It just so happened I had started jotting down some of the nice, inspiring stories coming out of the outbreak, so the idea seed was planted.

A few weeks later, I started painting.

A Piggy Bank of Love

Piggy Bank. Poster paints and acrylic on cardboard, 2020

The six o’clock news (covering regional stories) reported on a beautiful act of kindness from one youth center. The children of the youth center, elementary-school aged, had been saving their money since January for their first overseas trip. But when the Coronavirus super cluster blew up in Daegu, the children decided they wanted to donate their piggy banks to help the people fighting the outbreak. So they wrote letters of encouragement and donated 11 piggy banks amounting to over 200,000 KRW (~200 USD) to Daegu. It just doesn’t get any sweeter than that. My heart warms every time I think of those little baby angels.

Daejeo Green Tomatoes

Daejuh Green Tomatoes. Acrylic on cardboard, 2020

The Daejeo area (now part of Busan) is famous for its green tomatoes, and the area has a big tomato festival every year. Of course, this year it was cancelled because of Coronavirus. This was a big blow to the Daejeo tomato farmers, but they made the best of a difficult situation and donated a mountain of boxes of tomatoes to the Daegu region. (I wrote down a lot of these stories when Daegu was really suffering.) This was another inspiring act of selflessness and giving in times of hardship that really moved me. My heart goes out to all the agricultural and fishery communities who are suffering right now.

An Post

An Post Truck. Poster paint and acrylic on cardboard, 2020

Fellow collage artist Anne Heffernen shared news on one of her IG posts of another great story. The delivery staff of An Post, the postal service in Ireland, will begin “checking in” on older and vulnerable people along their route at least once a week. An Post also delivered 5 million postage-paid postcards to homes around the country, including prisons, nursing homes and homeless facilities, for people to write notes to loved ones. As a postcard and snail mail lover, this news really warmed my heart. I hope people take advantage of this service to send more mail! You can read the details here.

There’s a lot I want to critique about this last piece, but I’ll resist. The point of this series is to commemorate inspiration and hope through the meditative act of painting, so in that respect I’ll say I succeeded. As for the letters of love coming out of the exhaust pipe, I didn’t really have an explanation until my mom observed, “well the more miles those trucks travel, the more letters get sent. So it makes sense.” Thanks, mom.

Finally, here are two more stories in the same vein that I did earlier in painted paper collage:

View this post on Instagram

Coronavirus affecting people's livelihoods in so many different ways. In Korea, February and March means graduation and the start of the new school year. Usually parents and relatives buy students congratulatory bouquets to mark the occassions. However with graduation ceremonies cancelled and the start of school postponed, the flower industry has taken a big hit. I saw on the news the other day that one tulip farm's sales were a quarter of what they normally are. To help out the farmers, one local government office bought flowers and encouraged people stopping by to buy bouquets. They also gave their staff little vases of fresh flowers to brighten their desks.โš˜๐ŸŒท (Thank you to @3cstyle_fashion for the idea to make a series about #coronavirusstories.) ๊ทธ์ €๊ป˜ <6์‹œ ๋‚ด๊ณ ํ–ฅ>์— ๋‚˜์˜จ ๋ณด๋„๋ฅผ ๋ณด๊ณ  ์‹œ์ž‘ํ•œ ํŠค๋ฆฝ์ฝœ๋ผ์ฃผ. ์กธ์—…์‹๊ณผ ์ž…ํ•™์‹์ด ๋‹ค ์ทจ์†Œ๋˜๊ณ  ํšŒํ›ผ ์†Œ๋น„๊ฐ€ ์ค„๊ณ , ์ฝซ์‚ฐ์—…์ด ํฐ ํƒ€๊ฒฉ์„ ๋ฐ›๊ณ  ์žˆ๋‹ต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ๊ทธ๋ž˜์„œ ์ด๋ฒˆ์ฃผ ์‚ฌ๋ ค๊ณ ์š” ์ฝซ๋‹ค๋ฐœโš˜๐ŸŒท – – – – – #coronavirus #korea #tulips #paintedpapercollage #cutpaper #flowerillustration #wip #๊ฝƒ๊ทธ๋ฆผ #์ฝœ๋ผ์ฃผ #๊ทธ๋ฆผ #botannicalillustration

A post shared by A wonderful sheep / ์›๋”ํ’€์–‘ (@awonderfulsheep) on

View this post on Instagram

#coronavirusstories ๐Ÿฉน Sending all the love and light, admiration and gratitude to the nurses, doctors, hospital and containment staff, ambulance drivers and everyone at the front lines of this battle. In Korea the outbreak was concentrated in the Daegu region, and many emergency personnel from around the country volunteered to serve in this area which was severely short stafffed. They are drenched in sweat from wearing full body containment suits all day long, and have to wear bandaids to protect their faces from the masks and goggles. I collaged this piece to remind myself of their sacrifice anytime I find myself feeling grumpy about the inconvenience of wearing a mask or social distancing. Stay safe and well, everyone.๐Ÿ’› ๋‰ด์Šค์—์„œ ๋งŽ์ด ๋ณด์…จ์ฃ ? ์–ผ๊ตด์— ๋ฐด๋“œ๋ฅผ ๋ถ™์ด๊ณ  ๋ฐฉ์—ญ๋ณต์„ ์ž…๊ณ  ์šฐ๋ฆฌ ๋ชจ๋‘๋ฅผ ์œ„ํ•ด ๋งค์ผ ์‚ฌํˆฌ๋ฅผ ๋ฒŒ์ด๋Š” ์˜๋ฃŒ์ง„, ์†Œ๋ฐฉ๊ด€, ๋ฐฉ์—ญ ๊ด€๊ณ„์ž๋“ค… ์กด๊ฒฝํ•˜๊ณ  ๊ฐ์‚ฌํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. โค – – – – – #cutpapercollage #papercutcollage #bandaid #korea #coronavirus #daegu #๋Œ€๊ตฌ #์ฝ”๋กœ๋‚˜19 #ํ•จ๊ป˜์ด๊ฒจ๋ƒ…์‹œ๋‹ค #๊ฐ์‚ฌํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค #์ฝœ๋ผ์ฃผ #๋ฐด๋“œ

A post shared by A wonderful sheep / ์›๋”ํ’€์–‘ (@awonderfulsheep) on

This was before Coronavirus hit the rest of the world, and we saw the terrifying lack of PPE for healthcare workers in some countries.
My main supplies: 5 dollar acrylic set, 6 dollar poster paint set, plastic trays from biscuit tins and brushes

If you’d like to see (and hear) behind the scenes, I’ve been sharing the process videos on my YouTube channel.

I sincerely hope you all are staying healthy, safe and well. If you have seen or heard of any positive or inspiring stories, please share! I’d love to hear (and maybe paint them!)


  1. Wow. You really are an artist! I love the tomato drawing. BTW, I feel ashamed to admit this, but I didnโ€™t know that Daejuh is a region name…. though Iโ€™ve been enjoying the Daejuh tomatoes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ๋ถ€์‚ฐ๊ด‘์—ญ์‹œ ๊ฐ•์„œ๊ตฌ ๋Œ€์ €๋™์—์„œ ๊ฒจ์šธ์ฒ ์— ์ƒ์‚ฐ๋˜๋Š” ํ† ๋งˆํ† ๋กœ ๊ณผ์œก์ด ๋‹จ๋‹จํ•˜๊ณ  ์ผ๋ฐ˜ ํ† ๋งˆํ† ์— ๋น„ํ•ด ๋‹น๋„๊ฐ€ ๋†’๋‹ค. So maybe not a region per se, but it is at least a physical location… ๐Ÿ˜ฌ


  2. I love your cardboard stories and art! Dom had a great idea and I have to admit one of my favs during this time has been all the heartwarming stories of ppl coming together (so to speak) and helping each other.

    And seriously, need to start a list of all the millionaires helping out (as they should)…

    Liked by 2 people

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