Lily Kong’s postcards depict random tales of loneliness

The illustrator’s I’m Fine series “explores the humour that can be found in loneliness” by retelling people’s stories of difficult times

Kong, who’s based in London and has made work for Ace & Tate and adidas, began the project back in March, with the aim of sharing intimate stories and helping people to connect with others.

She started asking people for their stories of loneliness, and then illustrating them on blank postcards – which turn over to reveal a handwritten version of the original drawing on the back. Tales range from a woman Deliveroo-ing herself bunches of flowers, to someone whose veggies go bad because they live on their own, and can’t eat them fast enough.

Each person that submits a story receives a postcard of a stranger’s story in return, which Kong says is an attempt to share empathy with one another.

Many of the stories are sad, but also relatable – particularly after lockdown, which left large numbers of people feeling alone and isolated. Despite this, Kong has brought playfulness to the narratives with her illustrations, which feature line-drawn characters with over-exaggerated limbs and facial expressions.

Kong says she often approaches the stories by taking a single “part or prop” from them, and imagining what would happen if things were taken out of context – which the illustrator believes changes the focus, and makes a joke without making fun of someone else’s pain.

According to Kong, “taking the piss out of daily lives” has been an ongoing feature of her practice, as well as her own way of assuaging loneliness. “I have been researching on loneliness and creating work about vulnerability by overhearing conversations on buses, asking questions to strangers from social media, and collecting stories from the public,” she tells CR.

“I always try to find humour in these upsetting stories and make myself feel better. It became particularly significant in the year of the pandemic. I wanted to introduce it to my friends and audience, hoping that they will feel better about being alive. I decided to subtly introduce a more positive attitude towards upsetting stories, hence I started the project I’m Fine.”

Kong is still accepting submissions, via her website, for the series, and asks only that people share “a story of a small incident that triggers loneliness”, written in three to four sentences, and ending with the phrase ‘I’m fine’.;