Cell phones are fairly ubiquitous, and that means that no matter where you go, you’ll see people staring down at those tiny screens. It’s gotten to the point that some cities in China and Europe are experimenting with “texter sidewalks” to help keep pedestrian traffic flowing. London Illustrator Andrew Rae took note of this phenomenon and has created a series of photos that turns phones into monsters.
“I started thinking of the phones as if they’re little pets or creatures and people are tickling their bellies to keep them happy,” says Rae. “I mentioned this to my friend Ruskin one day when we were out with our two-year-olds and he liked the idea.” Ruskin Kyle is a London-based photographer, and he agreed to gather photographs of phone-absorbed people for Rae to use for his illustrations. The challenge, though, was that the photographs wouldn’t work with the original idea. “The phones were too small in the shot, and I couldn’t’ get it to look like the people were holding the little creatures.” Rae went back to the drawing board and came up with a new idea—one that was inspired by Edward Snowden and the idea of cell phones being used to monitor people. “Instead of replacing the phones, I’d draw objects or creatures coming out of the phones and looking back at us. The different styles of the photograph and the drawing would make sense together, as the phone screen is like a portal where the real world and the digital world meet.”
Rae’s Phone Buddies gathers all those illustrations and offers a keen insight into our modern world. Rae did make sure to draw in such a way that you can’t tell who the people are, but it still makes the point that these people are being drawn into the cell phone world at the cost of being aware of their surroundings. Who knows, you might just be reading this on your cell phone right now—watch out for the tentacles.