Ethereal Digital Botanicals by Ondrej Zunka Explore Human Dependency on Plant Species

March 21, 2022

Anna Marks

 Fluffus Algae

“The Fluffus Algae” All images © Ondrej Zunka, shared with permission

In a collection of otherworldly plants and flowers, digital artist Ondrej Zunka distorts the anatomy of botanical specimens into spiraling shapes and unusual textures. Titled The Fleur, Zunka’s renderings imagine 21 ethereal species—on his site, you can use a digital magnifying glass to view each work up close—that explores how all living creatures need biological variety in order to survive. “Habitats thrive with a diversity of plants that form complex communities, who both depend on and compete with one another in a natural symbiosis,” he says.

Zunker bases each creation on a real species, all chosen for their interesting qualities that he exaggerates or ascribes unearthly characteristics. One of the plants has delicate pistils that can’t germinate pollen if exposed to frost, while another only blooms once every 40 to 50 years. The peony-like “Toxic Exaryum,” for example, is described as having “a complex scent: its petals smell musky and sweet” and spherical growths that release “acidic compounds into the ground as they decompose.” Evoking a poppy, “Vomitus flos” is defined by its long, protective hair, while strange “The Odorata Cinere” has fringed petals in an ashy color.

One of Zunka’s main focuses is to reinvent the reproductive structure of plants, how their vibrant colors, scents, and nectar are intended to seduce insects during the pollination process. In some of his specimens, the stamen and stigma are elongated and twist out of flowers to create forms that ought to be part of another world. “They bloom only briefly, and only under the right conditions, making flowers an expensive resource for a plant to produce,” Zunka says. “It is my wish that these flowers inspire us to look for guidance in the infinitely beautiful and intelligent natural world. There is a lesson for us all there—in the way habitats always manage to remain balanced and functioning despite the chaotic diversity of plants.”

To view more of Zunka’s work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram.


A photograph of an imaginary flower called Toxic Exaryum

“Toxic Exaryum”

“Primula bros”

A photograph of the imaginary Vomitus flos

“Vomitus flos'”

A photograph of Pilosus torquent

“Pilosus torquent”

A photograph of The Punctatum Capillum

“The Punctatum Capillum”

A photograph of The Tulipa Nodatus

“The Tulipa Nodatus”

A photograph of The Lilium custodia

“Lilium custodia”

A photograph of The Connexa chamaemilla

“Connexa chamaemilla”

A photograph of The Cynara Serpentes

“The Cynara Serpentes”



Art Illustration Photography

The Art X Peace Print Sale Is Raising Money to Support People Fleeing Ukraine

March 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Stand with Ukraine” by Lele Saa. All images courtesy of Art X Peach, shared with permission

It’s estimated that more than 2.8 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia’s invasion less than three weeks ago, and an ongoing print sale is raising funds to help those fleeing the country. Art X Peace is offering dozens of limited-edition works from artists around the world, including Paola Ferrarotti’s black-and-white photos, Masha Manapov’s whimsically rendered landscapes, and a classic sign of peace by Lele Saa. All profits are donated to World Central Kitchen, which is serving food to refugees across Europe, and the fundraiser is accepting submissions from artists interested in donating their work. For additional ways to support the people of Ukraine, check out It’s Nice That’s list of resources.


“Palm Springs” by Ward Roberts

“Nature Saves Us #2” by Paola Ferrarotti

Left: “COVID Still Life no. 2 – Rose” by Isabel Sierra Gómez de León. Right: “Gesso” by Masha Manapov

“Pureza” by Eva Mena



Illustration Science

Precise Lines and Stipples Detail Tattoos of Exquisite Scientific Studies by Michele Volpi

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Michele Volpi, shared with permission

Bologna-based artist Michele Volpi (previously) inoculates his monochromatic tattoos of anatomical figures and biological diagrams with a dose of the surreal. Working in black ink, Volpi renders exquisite scientific illustrations across botany, astronomy, physiology, and chemistry with precise detail. He uses intricate linework and stippled shading to create realistic renderings of human skeletal systems and weather cycles, while skewing the scale or pairing seemingly disparate subject matters to achieve the more unusual qualities.

Although Volpi’s books are closed at the moment, he plans to announce new slots this spring—keep an eye on his Instagram for specifics—and he also has prints and shirts available in his shop.




Illustration Music

Musicians Harmonize with Plants and Birds in Gaspart's Soothing Digital Illustrations

February 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Gaspart, shared with permission

Twined with leafy vines, Gaspart’s series of digital illustrations titled Birds, Plants & Music emits the calming, lyrical presence we need right now. The collection, which was inspired by research detailing the effects of melodies and other audible compositions on vegetation, centers on lone instrumentalists with exaggerated limbs and gargantuan feet. Each casually sits on the ground or curls forward in a crouch to pluck the strings of an upright bass and buzz into a trumpet.

In a note to Colossal, Gaspart shares that he begins with a preliminary sketch that he then recreates with shapes in complementary palettes. Shades of purple are prominent in the violinist’s garments and backdrop, for example, while bright, brassy orange dominates the image of the saxophonist. As a follow-up to the illustrations shown here, Gaspart also collaborated with motion designer Bogdan Dumitriu, the sound design studio Ronroco Audio, and musicians Pablo Jivotovschii and Jake Fridkis to animate three of the compositions.

Gaspart, who lives in Maisons-Laffitte just outside of Paris, shares details about his process, in addition to similarly tranquil renderings, on Behance and Instagram.





Whimsy and Vintage Illustrations Merge in Colorful Stippled Tattoos by Joanna Swirska

February 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Joanna Swirska, shared with permission

Amidst delicate black lines and stippled shading, Polish tattoo artist Joanna Swirska (previously) inks splashes of bright pigments. Her works blend fanciful elements with elegant illustrations of flora and fauna, like her signature ferns and detailed monsteras colored with bright green gradients. Often covering an entire upper arm or calf, the tattoos are whimsical in both subject matter and style, depicting raccoons dressed in orange hooded capes, birds perching on berry-studded branches, and cheerful cats riding retro cruisers.

Swirska, who’s known as Dzo Lama, lives in the Karkonosze mountains and works between Jelenia Gora and Wroclaw, where she runs Nasza Tattoo Shop. Her books are closed until July, but keep an eye out for future openings on her Instagram. You can also pick up prints, mugs, and other goods adorned with her illustrated characters on Etsy.




History Illustration Science

A 900-Page Book Catalogs Hundreds of Medicinal Plants through Colorful Renaissance-Era Woodcuts

February 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

Mandragora officinarum L., Mandrake. All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Memorialized in his namesake flower the Fuschia, Leonhart Fuchs was a German physician and groundbreaking botanical researcher. He published an immense catalog of his studies in 1543 titled The New Herbal, which paired colorful woodcut illustrations of approximately 500 plants with detailed writings about their physical features, medical uses, and origins. Fuch’s own hand-colored copy remains in pristine condition to this day and is the basis for a forthcoming edition published by Taschen. Weighing more than 10 pounds, the nearly 900-page volume is an ode to Fuch’s research and the field of Renaissance botany, detailing plants like the leafy garden balsam and root-covered mandrake. The New Herbal is available for pre-order from Taschen and Bookshop.


Impatiens balsamina L., Garden Balsam, Common Balsam, Jewelweed

Pulsatilla vulgaris MILL., Pasque Flower