Meet the Quaranoids, Socially Distant Humanoids of Quarantine

Mat Bisher on his fun global illustration project

Quarantine life has given rise to peculiarly specific humanoid archetypes. 

You know them well: the folks who hoarded all the toilet paper; who've retreated totally into their digital devices; who are drinking more than just a little more than usual; who are scaling the infinite spiral staircase of homeschooling; who are feverishly tending to their gardens ahead of the inevitable zombie influx.

They're such relatable characters, in fact, that they're basically cartoons. And in a new project from Mat Bisher—by day, executive creative director at McCann New York—they have literally become cartoons, thanks to a range of illustrators worldwide whom Bisher has enlisted to bring his characters vividly to life.

Bisher calls them Quaranoids, and they're instantly recognizable. Teachanoid, Hoardenoid, Germanoid, Conspiranoid, Gardenoid, Knitanoid and many more.

There are 10 characters currently posted to the Quaranoids website, with more on the way. The goal is to keep adding more as long as people enjoy them, and new artists are reaching out every day, Bisher says.

We spoke further with Bisher about the project.

Muse: Where did you get this idea, and was it always going to be an illustrated thing?

It's obviously been a stressful time, and I had been wanting to kind of document this experience and allow people to laugh and share a bit. But how the actual idea came to be was a strange confluence of a couple things. 

I have been texting and talking with friends and co-workers, and everyone has a story about what they are doing, how they are handling the stress, etc. and I was struck by how relatable they all were. My 8-year-old daughter Peri used to be very in to Pokemon, so the multitudes of the different characters are all around the house and we were even starting to draw our own together. 

It dawned on me that the humans of quarantine could actually be lots of different fun characters that people could relate to in some way. I figured I could write them, but I wanted to visually bring them to life in a fun a way, so I reached out to a long time co-worker and friend (and amazing producer) Deb Archambault. She loved the idea and jumped right in and started reaching out to the incredible global illustration community.

How are you coming up with the different characters?

I came up with the original 16 or so from observation and conversation. I started taking note of the things I do, the things my wife or daughter do, and remembered conversations where others had shared their behaviors. But now when I tell people the idea or they see it, almost everyone instantly has an idea for one. Also, the illustrators sometimes have ideas for ones that they want to draw and I write to those.

How do you choose the illustrators?

Deb has really been great helping with this. She knows the community really well, and we look for illustrators with specific styles that we think could add to a character. Behance has been a great resource. The website quaranoids.com has been a good tool for us as well. It makes it easy for us to explain how the project works, has characters that are written but unillustrated and an easy way for illustrators to reach out.

Do you have any favorites so far?

I can tell you the first ones that fell out of me right away when I started writing them were Hoardenoid, Boozenoid, Teachanoid, Germanoid and Weaponoid, but I truly do love them all. Every time an illustrator's piece shows up in my inbox, it's like Christmas. I can't say enough about the global illustration community. They are incredible and I encourage everyone out there in the creative community to please use them for your brand projects.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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