When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
I applied to college thinking that I wanted to be a graphic designer. After the first year, I found out that my interest is in drawing and creating a story within an atmospheric space. I changed my major instantly, and have since been illustrating every single day.
Where do you find your inspiration? Music, art, films, your friends?
When I work on projects for clients, the inspirations always come from the story itself. I am interested in creating illustrations as relevant to the events of the story as possible, so the subjects and objects are direct interpretations of the story.
What materials do you prefer to work in and why?
The initial sketches and brainstorming are always drawn on cheap paper with Staedtler pencils. I use a lot of sketchbooks and tracing paper to generate my ideas. Afterwards, I scan a big portion of that into the computer. A portion of my work is done traditionally with gouache and pencil, later to be scanned onto the computer digitally.
What attracted you to where you live? Do you think your location has influenced your style?
I was born in Hong Kong, China, and raised in Toronto, Canada. I call Toronto home, but I travel back and forth between the two countries. My style of illustration is influenced by both cultures. I think that illustration is appreciated a lot more in the west. If I had not grown up here, I would not be exposed to this field and become an illustrator today. However, I am starting to bring Chinese motifs into the work I do today.
You illustrated the cover of the Munich autumn/winter 2013 edition of SHOP. Do you have any good memories of travelling in Germany?
I love Europe and have lived in Italy for a year. During that time, I had the chance to visit Berlin. My favourite impression of Germany in general is its delicious beer.
Where did you start when designing the cover for SHOP Munich? How did you arrive at the final illustration?
I was given a great description of a concept to start off with. This issue showcases Munich’s department stores, with their creative window displays and luxurious interior designs. The brief that was sent to me attracted my attention because they asked me to incorporate a figure that represented the interior of the department store through her hair and accessories. That sounded fun!
Did it turn out as you expected?
The most challenging part was the initial stage where the art directors and I were trying to figure out a way to submerge a woman’s figure into the interior of a store. The best part of this experience was executing the final illustration with a sketch that everyone was happy with. I love how everything turned out and was happy about the colours that were chosen.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit Hong Kong?
I would recommend readers visit Hong Kong during autumn. There are too many places to name, but, if I have to narrow it down, a small store named Fungus Workshop. It is a creative workshop that sells and teaches handmade leather products such as handbags or other accessories. I was taught to make a vintage-style doctor’s bag myself.
Which five items will you never travel without?
I don’t need too much when I travel and only bring the basics: keys, wallet, iPhone, small sketchbook, a pencil. That’s exactly five items – and nothing more!
And finally, what would be your dream commission?
To make an album cover for some of my favourite musicians. A few that top my list are Tegan and Sara, Sarah Harmer and Ivory Sky.