What if the gods moved among us? A concept revisited many times, the question is a catalyst for a thousand imaginations.
In Norse mythology, the hammer-wielding, lightning-throwing god Thor had a soft spot for our puny species and was known to have rubbed shoulders with dozens of human lovers.
In China, everyone’s favorite mythological trickster Sun Wu Kong hovered among humans, deities and demons with equal familiarity. His (mis)adventures on Earth are recounted in the 16th century epic Travel westone of the four great Chinese classic novels (四大名著).
In Lima, Peru, an agnostic couple tackles the issue with new vigor.
‘shook‘ by 21st century culture in all its pop and plastic glory, Jumping Lomo’s wacky gods are less concerned with starvation and fertility and more obsessed with “likes”.
The five deities of the series range from Wacky TikTok Goddess of Gossip Pheme, who is rarely seen without her selfie stick, at Wacky God of Music and Party Lil’ Shiva, whose presence is essential for a epic evening.
Fine arts teachers turned collaborators, creators Guillermo Fajardo (from Lima, Peru) and Jieying Li (born in Guangzhou, China) have been running Jumping Lomo since 2013.
While the character design and art studio’s previous figures were marketed as collectible toys, wearable pins and household accessories, its founders – like their imaginary gods – are evolving and recently embracing digital assets. . wacky gods marks their first NFT art series.
“NFT art is not a thing [in Peru] yet,” Fajardo says of the medium, which puts them at the top 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:
SPOTS: Jumping Lomo’s colorful characters are clearly inspired by sacred supernatural beings. Tell us about the role of religion in your lives.
Guillermo Fajardo: Like all children in Latin America, I attended a Christian school, but I am not religious. What I appreciate are ancient cultures, with their deities and their beliefs. Their tales and traditions illustrate early humanity’s understanding of their place and purpose in the world. It was a time when men did not abuse their resources and were grateful for the day, the night and the seas – so grateful that they interpreted the forces of nature as gods. The same pattern has emerged in many different cultures.
JieyingLi: I grew up in an atheist household, so the way I was brought up was very different from Guillermo’s. I consider myself agnostic, perhaps spiritual, in that I try to be more aware of my choices and actions. wacky gods is our ode to human evolution, our definition of thriving in a crazy, rapidly changing and outsized world marked by 21st century pop culture, and our recognition of man’s loss of connection to the Earth. wacky gods is our “what if” bringing together the best of both worlds, ancient and modern.
SPOTS: Do you have well-defined roles at Jumping Lomo?
GF: In a sense. Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. For example, when it comes to handmade illustrations, I will start with drawing, and Jieying will end with painting. In fact, she does almost all the coloring and is the best at painting by hand.
We study and design together. Designing is not just drawing, it is also trying to solve graphic problems such as synthesizing symbols and iconography and deciding what makes a piece work, especially when it comes to three-dimensional objects such as mugs, badges or sculptures.
JL: Guillermo is always in a hurry to make art toys and new pieces. He is definitely the team’s dreamer and risk taker. For my part, I keep my feet on the ground by watching our budget and making the decisions that are less fun. It is not easy to make a living from art, which requires making difficult but important choices.
Our graphic style has definitely evolved with us. We’ve been doing this for a while now, so we’re definitely not creating the same way as when we started. I’d like to believe we’re a little better now [laughs]. Instead of marrying two different styles, our experiments and artistic approaches are complementary.
SPOTS: What inspired the name Jumping Lomo?
JY: It’s a funny story. Back in 2013, Jumping Lomo was supposed to be a fallback name, at least until we thought of something better, but it stuck.
GF: ‘Lomo saltado‘ (Spanish), ‘jumping lomo’ (Spanish) or ‘jumping beef’ is a very popular stir-fried dish in Peru. The idea came from my childhood memories of traveling around the country. When driving from one city to another in Peru, most people find themselves eating at small tourist restaurants. English translations of these places’ specialties may be called “jumping beef” or “chest stainer” – neither gives you a good idea of what you’re about to eat. Created in Peru but influenced by the Chinese diaspora, lomo saltado perfectly represents our intercultural studio.
SPOTS: While it’s probably not fair for parents to pick a “favorite child,” which goofy god do you particularly like and why?
JY: Cat Lady Bastet is – without a doubt – the one I identify with the most. Bastet was very important for [ancient] Egyptians, as she protected their homes from disease and evil spirits. We imagined her as an introvert who prefers to stay home and enjoy the simpler things in life, like spending time with her rescues, tending to her plants, watching TV shows and online shopping. She reminds me of carefree childhood days spent lying on the couch watching Garfield, Sailor Moon, or other cartoons. Indifferent to the opinions of others and confident in her own skin, Bastet can seem sassy but is always there when you need her.
GF: My favorite will always be Aia Paec. Not only the Peruvian god of Mochica Civilization devour the heads of its enemies, but I’m proud of the creative path we’ve taken. I mean, we’ve turned a ruthless creature into a big, bearded foodie who loves rock concerts and feasts on food from around the world. As foodies ourselves, the Wacky God was fun to reinvent. Our Aia Paec is like that friend who looks hardcore but is just a big softie at heart.
SPOTS: The deities of your wacky gods The NFT series offers better street style than most. I especially like the little ‘tofu’ badge pinned to the Eco-King’s surfer tank top.
GF: Thanks. I admit they dress better than me. The creation process of Jumping Lomo is preceded by a long period of investigation. This time is spent learning ancient lore and tales and crafting modern archetypes that match each god’s personality.
JY: Imagining the story of each deity was so much fun! With the Dragon Eco-King, for example, we asked ourselves: how would the former weather king react to global warming? He would probably play his role for the planet by being a vegan activist. And as a dragon prone to aggression, he would need to keep his cool, so we imagined him as a conscious yogi.
The narration leads us to the search for an appropriate iconography — like the green ribbonan international symbol for Mental Health awareness, and the tofu badge, which displays its position on meat consumption.
Better known in the Americas at present, Jumping Lomo is working to develop its audience in Asia.
Cue Artist Agency Studio Cross, a boon for Li and Fajardo. In addition to helping them achieve their wacky gods NFT series, marketers will embody a Jumping Lomo sculpture in Shanghai in the second half of 2022.
Cross Studio co-founder Ken Wang from Hong Kong hinted, “One of Jumping Lomo’s most iconic characters will be getting some modern touches. The contrast between mythology and modernism really sets it apart. We are very excited about this.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity
All images courtesy of Jumping Lomo