Paul Blow illustrates these unusual phrases in foreign languages

UK illustrator Paul Blow visualises the literal English translation of these strange cultural phrases for Viking.


Viking has teamed up with British illustrator Paul Blow to create a series of illustrations reflecting the ridiculous nature of idioms - said by their international employee base - when taken out of cultural contexts.

The global stationary retailer giant wanted to explore workplace confusion over the meaning behind idioms, often lost in translation, and the usually strange combination of words the phrases entail when literally translated into the English language.

“This is something the members of our international team experience each day when they hear idioms in English for the first time, or when they employ a beloved phrase from their own culture to a confused reaction,” Viking wrote in a company blog post showcasing Paul's work.

For the project, Viking asked its international employees to share their favourite idioms in their respective languages. Paul has interpreted 11 idioms from different countries, which seem even more bizarre and comical when visualised.


Paul Blow illustrates for a number of big-name editorials - The New York Times, The Guardian and The Independent - from his Dorset studio. His work also includes murals, t-shirts and animations.

His style is reminiscent of comic books, gig posters and album artwork. He uses bright colours to counteract often forlorn characters living together in familiar landscapes.

Take a look at some of the expressive phrases from across Europe and the Pacific. We've included examples given by Viking of the idiom used in context.

Example: To leave your point of view during an argument and admit the opponent is right.

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Example: To leave your point of view during an argument and admit the opponent is right.


Example: To describe that someone stayed calm during a difficult job interview.


Example: If a project takes an unexpected, negative turn.

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Example: When you are unexpectedly promoted at the end of a salary review meeting.


Example: Not dwelling on the things you could have done differently after a failed campaign.


Example: To work on an easy project in contrast to other colleagues who do lots of overtime.

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Example: An individual who has stronger arguments during a discussion with a colleague and reached the desired end goal.