- Bath / fear / gozz / Illustration / japanese illustrator / Onsen / thalassaphobia
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Osaka-based artist and illustrator gozz has recently been focusing on hakoniwa 箱庭 isometric illustration vignettes. However, he also works outside of that genre, contributing art for trading card games as well as various publications. He loves cats and plants but also enjoys depicting monsters and fantasy worlds, and seems to have an interest in mythology.
Although his illustrations are always popular, one which he posted on September 21st seems to have particularly resonated with many people on social media, garnering over 176,000 likes and 29,000 retweets at the time of writing.
His illustration depicts a scene in a Japanese onsen hot spring facility, a local sentō 銭湯 public bath or a sauna facility. For those who have yet to experience such a facility in Japan, they will typically have something called a mizuburo 水風呂, or "cold water bath" separate from the main bath, especially if they have a dry or mist sauna. As you can imagine, the mizuburo is designed to cool you down:
A mizuburo next to the main bath. | αR / © PIXTA
If it's in a small sauna or sentō facility, the mizuburo will invariably be quite small, and often have dark-colored tiles. Depending on the lighting of the room and the design of the bath, the bottom of the mizuburo may be difficult to see.
This seems to be what happened to gozz one day. And being an illustrator inclined to fantasize about mysteries in the depths of the ocean or in the bowels of the earth, the situation inspired the following illustration:
We provided a warning in the title of our article but we'll repeat it here for good measure. If you suffer from thalassaphobia (a fear of the sea or deep bodies of water), you may not want to view this illustration.
Reproduced with permission from gozz (@gozz_sss)
"The tiles of the cold water tub are dark and I can't tell how deep it is, so I imagine something like this"
His illustration provoked all kinds of comments from people who understood the feeling of anxiety depicted in this situation, as well as those who shared their own experiences.
For example, one Twitter user posted images of swimming pools with illustrations of whales, octopuses or other sea creatures or large shapes covering the bottom:
"I hate things like this. Just looking at these images makes me feel unsettled."
For others, just using Google Maps can be unsettling:
"Is there anyone who gets afraid using Google Maps near the coastline and scrolling further and further offshore towards the ocean? I think it's so strange that I feel uneasy even though it's only on my smartphone screen (...)"
Of course, there were plenty of far more unsettling images of creatures and things lurking beneath the surface, and you can see them if you want to by following the conversation on Twitter.
If you're new to gozz' artwork, his isometric art vignettes can be truly impressive in scale. For example, here is an illustration inspired by the popular game "Monster Hunter Word: Iceborne." It won the top prize in the "Iceborne" category at the art contest of Capcom's recent Monster Hunter Festa '19 - '20.
Most recently, gozz has been working on an alternate world Robinson Crusoe-like narrative series called "Journal of 100 Days Stranded on a Desert Island" 無人島漂着100日日記, depicting what happens to the survivor of a shipwreck.
"Day 1: I woke up to discover I had drifted onto land somewhere. I'm saved... Where is this?...I can't remember a thing...Is there someone nearby?"
We don't want to give away too much, so we'll skip the days in between and just show you the most recent one (at the time of writing), Day 6:
"Day 6: I'm so tired I don't feel like doing anything. It started to rain so I made a shelter out of the wreckage of the ship which washed ashore. I don't feel like moving anymore today. Is this where I die?...I can see a light on a small island offshore. If I had fire..."
As with many of gozz' isometric illustrations, if you look carefully at the details of things happening both on and beneath the surface, you may find clues that foreshadow things to come.
If you'd like to see more of gozz' artwork, here are a few links to keep in mind: