Friday, 13 January 2017

Featured Illustrator: Bing Wang

Our first Featured Illustrator for 2017 is Bing Wang. One of the illustration winners of the 2016 Undiscovered Voices anthology, Bing's creative journey has taken her from one side of the Atlantic to the other, resulting in a tight graphic style using digital and traditional media. See more of her work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.



I grew up in a family of artists. My mother was a textile designer. My grandparents were trained in classical Chinese painting and my grandfather was an accomplished calligrapher. He showed me various painters and though I had trouble with the Chinese names (Qi Baishi, Zhu Da, Wang Meng, Ni Tsan), I grew up admiring their brushwork and compositions.

Zhu Da (Bada Shanren)

When I was 4 years old, a family friend who I called Magic Uncle (he’d pulled a quarter from my ear!) gave me Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. It was huge and I read it every day. I saw Tomi Ungerer’s The Three Robbers and Christmas Eve at the Mellops in a Chinese children’s digest.

Tomi Ungerer (© Phaidon)

The pictures were presented in sequence like comics. Casey, the Utterly Impossible Horse by Anita McRae Feagles, Pippi Longstocking and Moomin were quirky characters that held my imagination.

At my grandparents, I pored over books of cartoons by Punch artists, or Peter Arno and George Price.
© George Price: gently off-kilter

I loved animation especially stop-motion, read Asterix and Peanuts. I loved going to museums and darted out at lunchtime in grade school to wander around the galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art a block away when it was free. In high school, I studied anatomy on Saturday mornings at the Art Students League. I wanted to illustrate stories and children’s books. I learned from an author’s talk at a local college how important are details in a picture book because children love discovering things and their eyes constantly search the page, nothing is insignificant. That’s a feeling I’ve kept, always looking and interested in visual detail. After school, I’d spend hours at the public library studying different artists, paging through books on Aubrey Beardsley, Daumier, Charles Dana Gibson, or Edward Gorey -- all the classic illustrators: Arthur Rackham, E.H. Shepard, Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish.

E.H.Shepard: sensitive observation

Magazines were a great source of inspiration with work by Seymour Chwast, Guy Billout, Sempe or Saul Steinberg.

© Guy Billout: surreal charm

In my last year of high school, I interned at a large advertising agency and realized there were other careers in commercial art. After studying art history at a liberal arts college, I returned to the agency and worked in the studio bullpen. Artists and art directors that I admired seemed to have attended the same art school. I took a year sabbatical and followed an illustration major at Art Center in Pasadena where I met my husband who was majoring in painting. In NY, I worked as a storyboard artist and freelance illustrator. I also started pitching comic strip ideas to Jay Kennedy at King Features and Amy Lago at United Media. Their critiques and suggestions steered me to tighten up my writing, pay attention to rhythm & dialogue, understand conflict & story hooks and refine my inking. I loved the inks of Bill Watterson as well as Alex Toth, Johnny Craig, the Hernandez Brothers (Love & Rockets), Johnny Romita Jr. and other comic book artists from my husband’s comic book collection.

We moved to Los Angeles when my husband switched to CG art and worked on special effects for films then for video games. I was home-schooling our daughter and continued making comic strip submissions. We moved to Arizona when my husband had a chance to paint full-time and show in a gallery. By then, I realized I was more interested in whimsy than writing topical gags especially at the pace that syndication demanded. I preferred telling stories and developing characters. I was following the work of Seth, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes.

Adrian Tomine: subtle colours & line

Also raising our daughter introduced me to a new generation of children’s book authors/illustrators: Lucy Cousins, William Joyce, Jill Barklem and artists such as Hayao Miyazaki (Totoro) or Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma1/2). When a CG art teaching position opened at a new game design programme in Holland, we jumped at the chance to return and live in Europe. We had great memories of Amsterdam after spending a brief summer there. Living in Holland was like stepping into a fairy tale of magical woods, verdant trees and raucous magpies or a Vermeer painting of quaint buildings, cobble stone pavements steeped in history. I became interested in folk stories and started writing children’s book ideas. I was familiar with European artists such as Moebius and Herge but saw work by Yves Chaland, Dupuy & Berberian, and Ever Meulen.

© Yves Chaland
I read books on children’s book publishing and spent a year writing & illustrating a 32-page picture book. I kept tabs with an illustrator friend who also wrote a book. We made a schedule with set deadlines for the script, pencils and finish. I joined SCBWI and met wonderful people dedicated to children’s books. I got an eye-opening view of the industry in 2015 when I went to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It was an inspiring experience seeing all the international artists’ work and meeting other illustrators. After submitting a drawing (based on previous research for Hansel and Gretel, using reference for the lasso, clothes and border) to the Undiscovered Voices 2016 contest, I was happy to be long-listed then included in the anthology.
Pencil for Witch Save UV2016
What a boost! I had to decide what was important to my creative goals and to take those goals seriously. I’m currently drawing a comic book and look forward to finishing revisions on my children’s book before submission. I attended an agent’s day that recommended focusing on one project and continue to learn about children’s book publishing. Being able to use all the resources available through SCBWI, staying current with & supporting fellow artists while balancing the business side with the creative is top on my list.

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See More of Bing's work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery

Her personal website is here, contact Bing by email here.

1 comment:

  1. So lovely to hear about your journey to becoming a UV finalist. Congratulations and I hope amazing things lie ahead.

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