Thursday, June 2, 2011

[Un]Discovers: Wendy Ding

Wendy Ding is one of the illustrators who has caught my eyes this year. My heart is won over by her whimsical illustration style and in this edition of [Un]Discovers, she even has a big announcement for all the à la mode readers. Now, let's get read this interview I have with her!

Tutorial on creating an energetic photo-illustration in a modern style. Client: Advanced Photoshop magazine (UK) issue 67. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, photo

Hello Wendy, I know you have a day job as a graphic designer, so what made you want to become a digital illustrator in your spare time?
Funny you say that because it's actually the other way around, ha. I think of myself as an aspiring full-time freelance illustrator. I'm a 2008 BAA Illustration grad from Sheridan Institute with some graphic design training as part of my degree. Illustration is undoubtedly a challenging field as most illustrators tend work freelance. I did that for awhile after school ended but as someone just starting out, the workload was always feast or famine. As much as I love doing freelance client work and personal art, it reached a point where I had to find steadier work and so began my current graphic design day job at an online advertising company (after an exhaustive job search). I enjoy my job and have learned a lot but feel my dream is still to be a full-time freelance illustrator one day. Meanwhile, I'm more than happy to continue gaining valuable full-time experience while building my portfolio on the side. So, the real trick is the balancing act in juggling both!

As for the digital aspect, I personally find it to be the most comfortable way of working since high school. I attended a special computer-arts high school and we were taught both the traditional side (painting, drawing, crafts) as well as digital (Photoshop, web design, Flash). Of the digital side, I found my calling in Adobe Illustrator and it's been a love affair since.

Oxfords, heels, wedges, sandals, peep toes, boots - I love 'em all!
Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop

Make sure you keep your dream alive as your works are amazing! I would love to see you keep growing in this career path and create more interesting works in the future! So, how will you describe your digital illustration style?
Vector art mixed with digital painting exuding fun, colours and whimsy? I can't quite define it yet as the style tends to shift depending on the project at hand.

The irresistible beauty of lingerie combined with a dream-like backdrop inspires an insatiable feeling of luxury and soft femininity.
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, lace, Japanese paper.

Colorful and whimsical are definitely two words I can use to describe your works! Just like you said before, your works always have this fun element in them and I love them! Now my questions is, where do you get your inspirations?
Thank you! I get my inspiration mostly from life, fashion, and music. I've been told by friends that I'm naturally effervescent and fun-loving so I inevitably end up pouring my personality into my work. Especially when the subject is girls, which I've loved drawing since I can remember (thanks to growing up with Sailormoon, Barbie, and lots of Fashion Television). I like to portray them in a jovial and upbeat mood and that comes through in the poses, facial expression and colour palette. That's what gives it the most truth and meaning for me.

Sketch with a British flare for a shopping event in April 2011. 
Client: The Bay. Marker, coloured pencil.

The girls you illustrated are all so beautiful and I am sure a lot of us cannot take our eyes off them. Speaking of the girls, I know you have done a series called the Food Girls. How did you start it? Will you continue to add more pieces to it?
The series started as my final year thesis project at Sheridan. We were given free reign to do a body of work and I've always loved the timeless beauty of the 40's and 50's pin-up girls. One day, I was sketching away and drew a Betty Page-esque pin-up reclining on her stomach. She looked so happy and I wondered: what could possibly be making her feel this way? A few more pencil strokes later, she ended up in a hot dog bun, pickles and ketchup. It looked so funny yet so right, so I had to turn this rough sketch into a final.

From there, I began drawing more girls to see how each can be cheekily enveloped, surrounded or presented with a different food. I wanted to bring in a burlesque meets Disney princess fantasy element since they are essentially performers using oversized food items as props. More than anything, I wanted the series to emote unbridled joy for food (another love of mine).

I certainly have more Food Girls in the works and it's an on going project. So far all the foods have largely fallen on the fast food or indulgent side, so healthier fare could be on the way for a balanced diet!

Classic pin-ups get a playful revamp with food juxtaposition. 
Adobe Illustrator

I would love to see how you could pair French Onion Soup with your girl (now I think I just gave you an idea!). So, I know you are starting a new project right now, please let me know how you came up with this idea. When will we be seeing this project online?
I sure do! It's tentatively titled "Fashion Journal", a series of thirty drawings where part is me in an outfit I wore, and part two is my high-fashion reinterpretation of that outfit. This is meant to showcase my personal style as well as fashion illustrator side. It's still in development and you can see the series on my website:

I've always loved fashion and shopping no matter how much I tried to tell myself otherwise. Creating various looks is an innate passion that started in high school and I really harbored it during college. Most days, it's the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep and if I'm extra keen, I'll even go through my closet piecing together new and exciting outfits for the week. Needless to say this can be an expensive and somewhat frivolous process, and browsing stores and endless online sites doesn't help either. Who can resist the allure of "last call 50% off" signs?

So in an attempt to cut down on my spending and make more looks out of my existing wardrobe, I started casually sketching stylish girls in my sketchbook. Then in January 2011, I was browsing the fashion section at Indigo and came across a street style book with photos of stylish men and ladies from five fashion capitals (the format of the book is similar to the Japanese book Fruits). As I flipped the pages I thought: I'd love to be featured in this book but because of my illustration background, I want to add a twist to this. At first I thought of only capturing a month's worth of my outfits (hence thirty days) but there still wasn't a twist. I let the idea simmer longer and decided to do a part two where I'll make my own reinterpretation of the outfit to explore my designer side.

You can see the first batch of images on à la mode in June! Stay tuned.

A sneak peak of the Fashion Journal...
Adobe Photoshop

à la mode readers, you read it right! This site is going to showcase the first batch of her Fashion Journal works as part of our 12 Months of [Pop Up] Flavors series! Last but not least, If you could have a chance to do a fashion editorial style illustration for a high end brand in the future, which brand would you choose? What kind of imagery would you want to achieve?
That would be the ultimate dream if I ever had one! Based on my personal style and taste in fashion, I'd say Betsey Johnson or Jeremy Scott tops the list. Both are whimsical, inventive and not afraid to be loud or colourful. Life is more exciting with a hint of theatrics and eye-catching graphics and both deliver these elements with every collection, perpetually leaving me salivating for more.

I'd love to create imagery for their lookbooks or ad campaigns. It would comprise of a group of stylish, free-spirited girls perhaps jumping for joy, making cute and funny faces, unexpected poses donning lots of accessories and fabulous frocks. Somehow more-is-more and over-the-top feels appropriate here, and I'm likely to throw in an oversized dessert or two a la my Donut Girl :)

Classic pin-ups get a playful revamp with food juxtaposition. 
Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop.
Now it is about time to get to know more about Wendy by reading these trivia questions!

Hot or Cold?
Usually hot, especially weather and tea.

Gold or Orange?

Blueberry or Raspberry?

80s or 90s Era?
Ooh a toughy. I'll go with 90's this time

La Roux or Robyn?
Was La Roux last year but right now Robyn wins. I actually did an illustration of La Roux!

Singer Elly Jackson as a strong, golden goddess with an impenetrable veneer. 
Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop

Chanel or Givenchy?

Dog or Cat?
I like both

Pen or Pencil?
Pen because it forces you not to second guess yourself

Sushi or Pizza?
Sushi, or better yet sushi pizza

Milan or Rome?

Thank you so much to Wendy for taking her time to answer our questions! Be sure to check our this blog this month as you will be able to see the 1st batch of her Fashion Journal series! All works are courtesy of Wendy Ding. You can also purchase Wendy's works at her online shop and her Society6 shop. If you want to check out Wendy's up coming events, you can click here. Last but not least, join her Facebook fanpage if you like her works!

1 comment:

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