The Beautiful Future Collaborating with North Korean Artists

The Beautiful future is one of the most ambitious project we have ever embarked upon. Plastered 8 working with Koryo Studio got unprecedented access to North Korean artists. Our concept was to provide them with themes and images of modern Beijing buildings along with simple sketches and have them create their own vision of China.

The results were incredible and became a media sensation. Below is some information from the Koryo website that write it up much better than we can.



Nick Bonner and Dominic Johnson-Hill have lived in Beijing since 1993.  Nick is a North Korean specialist commissioning and curating North Korean art, as well as the director of Koryo Tours. Dominic has been producing graphic artwork with Chinese artists for his streetwear brand Plastered 8 since 2006.


Nick and Dominic had the unprecedented opportunity to work with North Korean artists who specialised in detailed artwork. Normally they limited their projects to interior or graphic design. However, this commission allows the artists to capture rituals of life in contemporary China set on a stage of socialism. Of an age both lost and imagined…


Photographs depicting Beijing and its contemporary architecture were given to the artists who were then asked to create their perceived vision of a futuristic Beijing. Both in terms of buildings and everyday life. It’s important to remember that these artists are completely cut off from the outside world. So, they derive their visions purely from the little information we gave them. Or, what they had seen in the North Korean media, and their own imaginations.


The finished artworks were, quite literally, a perceived vision of China through the eyes of a North Korean artist. Unwittingly, in many ways, they depict China’s future, or what is now known as ‘The China Dream’.


We started the project in 2007. The commission was before many of the featured architectural elements were completed, and the North Korean artists would use digital renderings as reference. The artists hand-painted each piece in Pyongyang. As there was no internet, telephone, or mail communication with the artists, the project took over two years to complete. Nick traveled to Pyongyang several times to record the progress.

Here’s an article from the Guardian