Remember the simpler times when we used to build LEGO castles and set up bedrooms for our Barbie dolls? In these miniature worlds, we made our own rules and often imagined ourselves living with other toys. Now, Chicago-based creative duo Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland are backed with a similar mission. But instead of dolls, the main characters in their world are lethargic souls with hard shells. Welcome to the ‘slimelight’—where snails plan hot dates, go on existential fishing trips, ride Harleys in Hawaii and even get abducted by aliens!
Inspired by dramas and movies, Murawski and Copeland create stunning sets for their pet snails which feature everything from white picket fences and bowling alleys to bubble baths and even teeny-tiny burnt-out cigarettes. Each miniature world tells a different story. Sometimes, the googly-eyed snails are seen living their best life as skateboarding high schoolers. Other settings feature them as stressed office workers who are mini victims of rampant commercialism. Oof, tough life.
Nevertheless, here are 20 incredible creations by the artistic duo that will make you believe that snails can live in this world just like us humans. Heck, they’re even better models than all of us combined:
If you’ve ever played Sims 1, you’ll remember this iconic heart-shaped Niagara Love Tub where your characters could ‘Woohoo’. The video game once described the tub to feel like “the plunging and raging falls of the famous honeymoon spot… that brings out the untamed side of couples everywhere.” Looking at these snails, it’s safe to say that the caressing curve of the form-fitting seats are definitely capable of turning even the most uptight and lethargic creatures into indulgent beings.
This one gives me Riverdale’s Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe vibes with all the neon lights and bubblegum skies. Now, are we going to talk about Fred Andrew’s pickup truck in the parking lot or the fact that the main characters are sitting on hamburger seats with googly eyes?
What if the entire universe is just someone’s science project?
Creating miniature sets that are roughly the size of a shoebox, Murawski mostly repurposes random materials lying around in her studio for the props. She also incorporates items, including little pieces of plastic, that she collects on walks and drives. “If I find an object with a strange texture, I always keep it,” Murawski told The New York Times (NYT). Well, just look at the attention to detail in this miniature world below. It’s safe to say that the artistic duo snailed this one!
Oh, to be a snail with a pink boba shopping for fits at a local Fashion Bug.
Who said only humans can have existential crises? Meet Velveeta the snail, who’s currently stuck in the void between a place that she left behind and one she’s yet to find. We shell overcome this too, Velveeta!
Made with foam cores and felt carpeting, it is Murawski who builds the sets and Copeland who helps bring them to life. “Sam is really good at the engineering part because he’s very analytical,” Murawski told NYT. “He has a great eye for manipulating movement within a scene.” Here’s another heart-shaped bathtub as proof that the artists really have an eye for intricate details. Spoiler alert: these snails are out here getting more action than all of us.
If you want to peek behind the scenes of this miniature world, I’ve got you covered. Hurry and cue the jazz music already:
Just going to leave this slimy recreation of The Shining here. Bonus points if you scroll to see the trailer Stanley Kubrick was too afraid to release at the time.
Talking about the exquisite attention to detail in their work, Murawski shared: “It is a really fun challenge for us to come up with these scenes and to find different ways to execute it so it feels believable and lived in, despite its fabrication.” The artist also added how the process is rooted in play and experimentation. “We are always looking for new ways to construct different elements in a scene and trying varied techniques to create depth and motion in our work.” Well, this set makes me believe that snails should have their own amusement parks with merry-go-rounds and haunted mansions.
This is what I call true art. Apologies—snart.
We’re trudged halfway through the list and if you still believe that making these miniature sets are a challenging task, wait till you hear what Murawski and Copeland have to say about directing their lethargic cast members. For starters, once the props are set up, the creative duo place cucumbers behind the objects to tease the snails into the right position on the set. “We have an idea of what we want them to do, but we still have to work on their schedule,” Murawski admitted. “It sounds silly, but it’s a true collaboration between us and the snails.” Quick! Make a wish before Velveeta and Francis blow out the candles.
Everyone deserves some self care in 2022. Here, Velveeta is ready to ✨rise and slime✨
Murawski and Copeland have dedicated this one to the multidimensional performances of their pet snails “who are never really acting but briefly inhabiting tiny fabricated spaces, a stage, in which we [the audience] curiously and invisibly watch from the outside—projecting our dreams and desires, and then [become] no longer an audience but the snail in a world like our own.”
It’s official. This is Velveeta’s world and we’re just living in it.
In an interview with It’s Nice That, Murawski acknowledged the pleasure of being able to see into a space that’s not your own. “Miniatures allow us to look closely and survey a private space in detail. They represent something back to us in a non-confrontational way,” she shared, adding how the artist loves making rooms that feel “nostalgic, romantic or banal but also have something foreboding or off-putting about them.” Well, if the mere thought of a snail having a pet hamster isn’t unsettling enough, I don’t know what is.
Okay, forget what I said earlier about unsettling snail miniatures. I recommend scrolling through this post below to witness the slimy creature wield a knife. If you dare, that is.
In the same interview with It’s Nice That, Murawski admitted that she likes to think of snails as “tiny puppies with shells.” Well well well, this tiny-shelled puppy here seems to be anxiously waiting at the express checkout line for his mother—who appears to have left her child to go back and get something she forgot.
Gary the Snail, is that you?
What if we could be two happy-go-lucky snails fishing away at a local pond while contemplating life under the neon skies?
Aimed to evoke playfulness, Murawski and Copeland’s work throws us into a space that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The scene appears eerily relatable, yet feels like we’re peeking into a dystopian world—where humans have been extinct for years and only their objects and mollusks remain. The Earth is a snail kingdom now, and these creatures are here to remind us of our capacity to find love in all places.
Remember the simpler times when we used to binge-watch Cartoon Network on a school night? “I wish SpongeBob was real!” most of us would holler at the playground, while day-dreaming about visiting the cartoon character in his cute little pineapple house under the sea. Several years later, your childhood visions may have motivated you to check out artworks that reimagine Disney princesses as modern women or even hotdogs—all in the guise of nostalgia.
Well, buckle up fellow cartoon lovers, it’s time to kiss your nostalgic desires—along with your peaceful sleep schedules—goodbye forever. Enter Miguel Vasquez, a 3D artist obsessed with making hyper-realistic versions of our favourite cartoon characters. The catch? The entire purpose of his art is “to disturb people.” Here are 18 of Vasquez’s most popular creations—guaranteed to make you pat the artist on the back and say “mission accomplished.”
I bet you’ve only known the wholesome yet goofy Sid who flails his arms around and manages to screw up every mission the Ice Age crew embarks on. But have you ever wondered what the iconic sloth would look like as an actual human being living among us? Hint: think someone with saggy skin, oddly-defined pectoral muscles, crusty eyes bulging out of their sockets and snotty nose dripping onto a set of misaligned and mouldy teeth. Vasquez did Sid dirty. Period. But we’re all here for it.
I’m pretty sure this is not what our 7-year-old selves had in mind while wishing upon a shooting star to meet SpongeBob in real life. Yet here we are, presented with an unsettling 3D illustration of the popular sea sponge—who looks eerily similar to Donald Trump. Scratch that, maybe Howie Mendel in his cosplaying era back in his school years?
Okay, this may just be Vasquez’s least cursed creation to date—and that’s saying something. Based on the character and protagonist of the animated television franchise under the same name, Scooby-Doo looks like the Scooby snack Shaggy would often feed him. Apart from his low-key resemblance to Steve Harvey, that is. “When you’re doing the dishes and touch soggy food,” Vasquez went on to caption the 3D artwork. Meme culture, here’s your new “What the dog doin’.”
Iconically munching on a carrot with gloved hands, Looney Tunes’ favourite anthropomorphic grey hare looks like he gulps psychedelic mushrooms for breakfast. Eh, what’s up, doc?
“Ahoy Spongebob! I’m suffering from nicotine withdrawal, gimme a pod me boi,” rightly sums up this artwork of Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants. “It’s all about shock value,” Vasquez said in an interview with The i. “I put a lot of work into the details. A character’s bloodshot eyes can make them that much creepier, or menacing look.” Well, mission accomplished, mister Vasquez.
Sleep paralysis demons, where you at? Based on the famous characters from the long-running comic strip—written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz—Charlie Brown and Snoopy look baked in their hyper-realistic version like Bugs Bunny. The best part? The more you look at Charlie, the more he looks like Michael Cera. Potential cast if The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show ever makes a live action of the iconic duo, I guess?
Of course, Patrick is on the list. If you’ve been wondering what the pink sea star would look like as a Chuck E. Cheese employee, this is it. With ice cream dropped splat on his forehead (bonus points if you scroll to see it dripping into his mouth), single-toothed Patrick believes mayonnaise is an instrument and you cannot, in fact, “stop the unstoppable.”
Brb, Googling how to delete my childhood.
Remember how we used to tirelessly yell “behind you, Dora!” whenever the characters from Dora the Explorer asked for directions or urged us to spot something on our TV screens? I don’t know about you guys but watching the animated series now gives me anxiety. How many times do I have to repeat myself? Or worse yet, in the age where we pull down our masks to hear better, am I actually annoying the local supermarket worker by asking them where the chips are—multiple times? Well, this time, Dora ain’t playing around. And Swiper, you better stop swiping.
In the interview with The i, Vasquez admitted how he was initially an art school student at Chaffey College but got really frustrated with the curriculum. “I felt like I could learn more at home but didn’t know what to do at first,” he said. “I suppose you could say I dropped out, but it doesn’t feel like the right word. I wanted to leave to dedicate more time to my art, and felt like I was learning more at home.”
After leaving college, he started spending time sketching out the characters he had been previously drafting absent-mindedly. “I had started drawing these characters at school when I got bored, because it seemed like no-one had quite got the dimensions for what these cartoons would look like in real life,” the artist said. “I wanted to show how strangely disproportionate and creepy they would actually look.” Well, all Squidward needs in this artwork is a shower cap and bubbles.
Who knew Michael J. Fox and Willem Dafoe could make such a good intergalactic duo? Armed with a bottle, portal and laser guns, Vasquez captures Rick and Morty in their true elements in this article. Perfectly disturbing, just like the animated sitcom in question.
You’ll never binge Adventure Time the same way again. With missing teeth and a balaclava, here’s what Finn the Human would look like in his yearbook photo. His death grip on Jake the Dog (with well-defined pecs, yet again) is worth noting here.
This is what Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants would look like if he was one of the odd monsters Will Smith fights in Men in Black. Pecs? Check. Bloodshot eyes? Nailed them. The secret formula for Krabby Patties? Got it. At the end of the day, however, I’d be absolutely terrified to meet mildly-ripped Plankton out on the streets.
In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward is rushed to the hospital when SpongeBob accidentally slams the door on him. He undergoes surgery to have his face fixed but things don’t go as planned. Instead of looking like his old self again, the surgery makes him—drum roll—incredibly handsome! Enter ‘Handsome Squidward’, whose dazzling beauty makes everyone in Bikini Bottom fall head over heels for the hunk. With five different versions of Handsome Squidward, Vasquez has got everyone thirsting in the comment section. I never thought I’d say this in my life, but have you ever seen a sea cucumber packing a sea cucumber before?
In case you’re looking for a video of Handsome Squidward checking you out, Vasquez has got you covered. PS: I can’t wait for the anthropomorphic fanfiction of the character on Wattpad now.
At the time Vasquez gave the interview for The i, he was yet to create female characters. “I have a really good idea for Marge Simpson in the pipeline,” he told the outlet. Well, who’d have thought how The Simpsons character would turn out? Now the question is, when will Vasquez add Lisa and Bart to this unsettling family portrait? Also, I can’t help but see Bruce Willis the more I look at Homer. What do you think?
For Vasquez, his inspiration to create creepy characters was triggered after his artwork of Nintendo’s Luigi went viral on Instagram. “I realised that these characters were getting a lot of attention,” he said. “I started focusing a week at a time on perfecting them. They do look like something that lives and roams in this world.” I never thought Kirby could haunt my dreams with single nail bed for hands and legs.
Ever wondered what old video game characters would look like if they were recreated with realistic graphics? Let’s just agree that if we played Super Mario with this Toad, our childhood memories would’ve been nightmare-filled rather than nostalgic. As for Vasquez, this is exactly what he aims for with his artwork. “I love seeing the reactions,” he shared. True, even if you love or loathe them, you’d definitely share these images with a friend at the end of the day. “It’s just bringing to life what the original creators gave to the cartoon characters,” he added. Wonder what Princess Peach thinks about this Toad though…
Just going to leave this blursed image here.