These Dioramas Depicting Daily Life Are Anything But Mundane | Verve Magazine
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September 07, 2016

These Dioramas Depicting Daily Life Are Anything But Mundane

Text by Amishi Parekh

Enter Derrick Lin’s miniature worlds…

He was “born a curious and observant person in Taiwan”. Derrick Lin’s (or @marsder on Instagram) curiosity about the world has taken him to Japan and America, leading him to pick up a degree in semiconductor engineering and an MBA along the way. When he’s not advising clients on digital marketing strategies, this Seattle-based senior social strategist, armed with his iPhone, creates miniature worlds that tell stories of woe and frustration that are part and parcel of life in advertising.

The themes in Lin’s work often go beyond his office; these mini vignettes include a narrative on contemporary life that many can relate to. Our relationships with food, technology, careers, each other and even ourselves are some of the ideas that he touches upon.

How did the project come about?
“It started out as an entry to a photo contest (which I won) at my previous agency. I was encouraged by my co-workers to turn it into a series. Work is one of the major sources of stress and it is especially true for advertising agencies. I chose to leverage miniature figures to manifest our thoughts and the little voices we all have inside our heads. They act out those honest thoughts that we wouldn’t otherwise publicly express.”

Tell us about your creative process.
“We encounter various stressful situations at work and we rarely have a healthy outlet for our frustrations. I draw inspiration from actual events that happen to me at work, so I typically don’t create a lot of scenes in advance. I rarely start an idea with the figures. I always start with the thoughts we are told to keep to ourselves. I keep figures at my desk and whenever incidents occur I find locations that would best convey the ideas and then create the photos with my iPhone and desk lamp. I always pair the photo with a carefully written caption to enhance the punchline of the joke. My office desk has work documents piled at one end, and miniature figures and pencil sketches on the other. I create about two photos a week.
A lot of times the photos convey a dry, deadpan humour, and some of the feelings I depict echo with people who tend to be shy and introverted.”

What has the response to your project been like?
“Working on it has brought me so many unexpected experiences. I remember three weeks after I turned my Instagram profile public, I received an inquiry from the Daily Mail about it. I was beyond thrilled to receive messages from people around the world telling me how much they can relate to the scenarios. To them the way I depict these mundane moments transcends language.”

Plans for the future?
“I was extremely fortunate to partner with the world-renowned publisher Rizzoli to turn my series into a book. I am currently working on new photos for the book, which is scheduled to come out in fall 2017.”

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