Our pick for this month is Manchester born, London based illustrator Wendy Wong, who combines vibrant colours, bold lines and surreal shapes to convey personal stories, social commentary and emotion with a touch of good humour.
Your pieces are very distinctive and you’ve made a clear commitment to a certain style, when did you first realise you had found your own mode?
Well, it took me a process of a year or two. I’d become quite disillusioned with the work I was making, as I had just come out of a fashion degree and was doing gothy, witchy dotwork drawings, which had had a reasonable response, but they felt contrived and it took so long to come up with ideas, never mind any sort of composition.
So I played around to try and mix my sense of humour in with my drawings and came out with something that felt more natural to me, something that didn’t need me to reference.
You typically release several illustrations a month, do you find it easy being so prolific or do you lock yourself away to get such high output?
It really depends – sometimes it takes me ages to finish one piece and then some days I can complete a few in a day. It’s not easy, quite mood dependent and also dependent on how complicated the drawing is and whether I want to give myself more freedom to play with it.
Your work seems to focus on a set of characters, other than yourself, are these characters based on real people and if not, have you created backstories?
Not really, mostly myself – never anyone else because they are just random figures to me. The ‘any man or woman’ really.
There is a range of themes in your work, from making the mundane colourful to expressing personal strife, do you find one theme easier to work on than another, or does inspiration come to you easily?
Not necessarily. I think any creative will say inspiration is bound to come and go. I do find it cathartic to sketch, which then evolves into my illustration. Again, whatever I draw can be quite dependent on my mood. Sometimes I’m sad and sometimes I’m happy and I think you can see that.
I’m sure other artists out there would love to know how the technicals behind your illustrations, what do you use to create them?
Mostly, I’ll work off my ipad on Procreate and some of the time Illustrator. I tend to switch around, but Procreate is just great to do all the initial sketching and good for quick output for me. I tend to do a lot of drawings on paper, so I can keep evolving an idea I have in my head. Whenever I’m struggling with an illustration, I always go back to paper, something about the freedom of a sketchpad kind of helps my creative block.
Which illustrators, artists and creatives do you draw inspiration from? Who or what is your biggest muse?
I like Lily Kong, Kim Sujin and Tom Guilmard’s work – because of the humour. Kind of just reminds me to try and stay funny and they make me smile. Sam Peet’s work is really cool, just great editorial work. My favourite artist is Yoshitomo Nara – very unlike my work but I love his paintings and drawings. I guess my muse is myself, as a lot of my work is based on myself, but that sounds really conceited!
One of our favourite pieces is your illustration of legendary trade unionist Mary Quaile, can we expect Manchester’s radical working class history to feature again?
Perhaps, but definitely not on the cards for the moment. I think the work has already been explored really when in the “First In The Fight” book that the Mary Quaile drawing is from!
Being a Mancunian in London, which city do you feel the strongest connection with and does your hometown have a bearing on your work?
Not really! I don’t think my work has much relation to either specifically – maybe just as a whole, more about city living.
United or City?
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