Illustrator Emmie Tsumura has had her fair share of horrific dating experiences. But instead of complaining about it with her friends like the rest of us, she took the most abominable pick-ups she’s received and turned them into funny, strange, humanizing art.
On her Instagram page, ok_cucumber, Tsumura shares some of the worst experiences she’s had in the modern dating world while also shedding light on the very real humans behind the questionable profile pics and emoji-packed bios. If you thought it was impossible to find anything good in the hellscape that is online dating, think again.
GOOD had the chance to speak with Emmie Tsumura about her popular Instagram profile and the bizarre human experiences that inspire her work.
I’m curious—how many terrible pickup lines did it take before you realized you could turn them into art?
I was on and offline for five months before I drew the first ones. My friends and I were sharing screenshots of profiles and text messages, and I guess, as an illustrator, drawing them was the next logical step. I noticed that what we were doing by sharing these screenshots was actually documenting how people try to communicate with other potential love or lust interests online. So when I realized that it was developing into a series, that’s how I approached it: like a document or report on findings. It’s like a graphic survey more than therapy; it’s like a snapshot more than tears on paper. I wanted it to be like a mirror.
What do you think this says about the state of modern dating? Should we be amused or horrified by dudes online?
…Over the past few years, so many people I know have met their SOs on Tinder or OK Cupid, or some other dating site. I think a lot of people in general just don’t know how to talk to their crushes (online or offline), and that uncertainty or lack of confidence can just get wackier from behind the safety of a screen. I think we are generally hopeful that we’ll meet someone special, but it’s so confusing. People are thinking, “There are too many options!” “These are all my options?!” “There’s so many to choose from!” “There is no one here!”
I’m someone who dangerously feels all the feels.
I’m fascinated by how and what we communicate—the strings of words, the hesitations, the visual language. I’m someone who dangerously feels all the feels. Luckily, my fascination with communication overrides any other reaction I might have to a message and manifests itself into illustration.
I would definitely say that I swing towards being more amused than horrified, but I am definitely aware of the weight of some of these messages. Especially around race. Laughter is the best way to disarm people and shine a light on uncomfortable topics. I’m trying to explore the politics of communication in online dating and make people laugh at the same time.
While hilarious, the illustrations are also both humanizing and strange. Are humans just weird or is it the act of communicating itself that throws us all off?
Humanizing and strange! Ahhh I love this observation and feedback! It’s all I could ask for. Humans are so weird. And communication is hard.
Why do you think people refuse to use “you’re” and “your” properly?
Your guess is as good as mine. I mean why not just use “ur” if ur not sur? “Your so sexy” is a deal-breaker straightaway. Oh well, spelling won’t matter soon enough, I guess.