Donna Choi’s Modern Romance: Love In The Digital Era

Modern Romance is designer/illustrator/Brooklynite Donna Choi‘s weekly series about “love in the digital era.” Nothing in the lexicon of love is safe (or sacred) in these clever, snarky, and colorful byte-sized installments. From dating dilemmas to design inspirations, Choi reveals the impetus for her series in the following interview.

Your series Modern Romance is “inspired by love in the digital era”, so we have to ask: OkCupid or Tinder?

Definitely OKCupid.

What made you choose this subject to delve into?

I chose this subject because it’s juicy and there’s endless material. Romance is so ubiquitous in our culture, but everyone’s experiences are so nuanced and personal that it never stops being a new discussion – at least not to me.


Are some of the images in the series biographical? Care to share any dirty details?

Yes, of course! This project is the accumulation of three years of (mostly) online dating. The characters and experiences here are ones that my girlfriends and I have deliberated over many a wine-guzzling night.


Voyeur: this came about through an experience where I had someone writing me bizarrely poetic, pornographic emails and following all of my social media activity. Through talking to friends, I found out that this is just the reality for many women who make their living publicly – journalists, artists, etc. It’s very surreal; I only touched on it here but I definitely want to explore it further.


Fancy Boy: I’ve met a number of guys who are adamantly straight, but who favor some gender-bending accessorizing – nail polish and jewelry, specifically. This is interesting because however unknowingly, these guys are exploring a traditionally feminine area of fashion and pushing the boundaries of masculinity.


What serves as aesthetic fuel for your fire? Who are some of your favorite artists and what schools of design have influenced you?

These days, I’m drawn to highly conceptual editorial work – Christoph Niemann was a huge influence for this series. I also love West Coast lowbrow – Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, The Clayton Brothers… In terms of everyday creative porn, I love music videos. Anything in the Rihanna-Beyonce-Nicki camp provides endless inspiration. That slick, almost cartoonish narrative on gold, guns, and bad bitches – yes, please.


What’s the best and worst relationship advice you ever received?

Worst : “What more do you expect?”
Best: “Sex is better on your own, anyway.”


If your art was the only relic of dating in this era, what do you think it would say about our contemporary culture?

We have very complicated rituals surrounding dating.


Any upcoming projects you want to let us know about?

I’m working on a new comic called How to Make Love Like a Tech Bro; planning to release late summer/early fall.


Modern Romance is a weekly illustration series by Donna Choi. For more, visit: