There are wonderful works of literature that belong in the classics, consisting of thousands of words. There are short stories out there that will amaze you; scary or funny, romantic or historical, shorter or longer. But literature doesn’t only consist of works with hundreds or thousands of words; you can as easily find beautiful stories that only have few or no words, stories that can touch your soul and help your mind travel with pictures so meaningful that words are redundant.
A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon some stories that belong to this last category. I always believed that adults are entitled to some fairy tales and bedtime stories, and it is with great pleasure that I can now introduce you to the works of a person who creates some of the most beautiful ones I have seen. Josef Lee is an illustrator/ animator based in Singapore. His works are actual bedtime stories for adults with few if any words. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? There are happy and sad stories among his works, but whatever the content , each one will spark your imagination (trust me, I’ve spent days reading them over and over!). Wake me up at HappyLand was the first I ever read, and it was both inspiring and wonderfully optimistic. So I carried on reading, and I soon found myself having read eac and every one of them. As you can imagine, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about this artist’s works, any publications in progress, and his inspiration for these adult-fairy tales. Josef Lee was very kind to answer some questions for us, and here is what we asked him:
What would you like to tell our readers if you could introduce yourself?
I am a Creative Director from Singapore and I run my own design and animation studio, specializing in motion graphics for the TV industry. The short stories are part of a side project that I do, to explore my other interests in storytelling, comics, poetry and illustration.
When did you start creating stories?
My first story was done 7 years ago in 2008. The latest is my 14th story.
I usually do a few stories, then break for a few years in between due to work and personal commitments, before I start on new stories again. It was only last year that I finally got back to creating new stories again, after a break of almost 3 years. And this is considered my most consistent and productive period ever as the last 7 stories were all completed within the past 2 years.
Which story is your personal favorite?
My favorite story will always be the latest story. Until the next one comes along and takes over the favourite spot.
Can you tell us some of the things that inspire you?
I am interested in a wide variety of topics (anything from business and marketing to spirituality and psychology) and read a lot, from books and magazines, to online articles and instagram “quotes of the day”. I also watch hours of TV every day and countless viral videos that are shared online.
“Wake Me Up At HappyLand” has become quite popular. How did you come up with it? How long did it take you to create it?
The last 2 stories before this were both dark and sad, so I wanted to do something positive for the next story. Then I came across a viral video of an experiment where this person taking the train held a paper indicating his destination, to see if anyone will wake him up. The idea stuck with me and it soon evolved into the core idea of a person on a journey to Happyland, but sleeping his way throughout and with no one waking him.
I wanted to keep to my previous storytelling style, incorporating the use of words and rhymes and did many drafts in various approaches but none seemed right. Around the same period, I attended a talk on children’s Picture-Books. That sparked my interest in this area and I did some further research.
Eventually I decided to attempt a wordless picture-story with this idea. And the minute I threw away the words, all the visuals and ideas easily flowed as I began to approach the storytelling in a visual way. The entire process took about 4-5 months in between work.
Where can someone find your stories in print?
I have not published any of my stories before. However, a couple of publishers have approached me and expressed interests in publishing “HappyLand”. If anything works out, I will hopefully be able to see the printed book in a few months time.
Can we expect any bedtime stories for children?
Before “HappyLand”, all my stories were strictly for adults. “HappyLand” was my first attempt at doing a story that is for BOTH adults and children, and it seemed to work quite well. I will be looking at doing more stories in future that adults can enjoy, and also able to share with their kids.
So be vigilant! Josef Lee’s bedtime stories for adults might soon be published. In the meantime, make sure not to miss his incredible work, which you can find on wordpress (https://joseflee.wordpress.com/) and follow his work on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Josef-Lees-Bedtime-Stories-for-Adults-25113262608/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf).