This is part of an on-going series of interviews by Yinsey Wang with East Asian voices around the globe. The series aims to introduce perspectives from different walks of life.
American-Chinese Meng Wang immigrated to the States as a three year-old. Her parents, both engineering students at the time, expected a similar future for Wang in her career, possibly as a scientist, engineer, or doctor.
Although too modest to call herself an “illustrator”, Wang’s talents have certainly caught the attention of Nee Hao Magazine – with good reason.
The beautiful Wang’s (as shown above) initial relationship with art was slightly difficult, herself having awful experiences in an art programme: “the deformed watercolor banana didn’t reveal proper observational skills, much less artistic talent”. However, her Saturday morning television shows such as Sailor Moon and Digimon propelled her towards a love affair with anime; her on-going perseverance in self-improvement and artistic development is revealed by the sophistication of her style. Her pieces reflect a remarkable uniqueness, an imaginative appreciation for detail, and a mesmerising warmth that entraps the viewer.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your style?
Ribon and Nakayoshi magazine. These are monthly serialized comics geared towards young teenage girls that are released exclusively in Japan. I was able to get a hold of one when I was in elementary school, and it was more precious than anything else I had owned at that time! The magazines consisted of over 400 pages of newsprint “shoujo” manga to reference and learn from.
What’s your stereotypical creative process, if any?
I begin most drawings with a light sketch followed by a line drawing of the characters on the page. The solid colours are filled in, and shadows are added after. If a background is in order, the colors will be painted in with a softer watercolor or oil brush on the computer. I will colour over the line art to soften the outlines.
Edits are made to the characters on a separate layer. This is the most time consuming step. Once the background is in place, the tone of the painting may need to be adjusted, so several edits to the position and color may happen. Lastly, I add lights and special effects like blur or filters, and then it is done! The entire process may be quick (1 hour) or very long (25 hours).
What do you find are the key differences between more “natural” art mediums and the digital medium?
Digital allows for much more flexibility in rendering an image. The ability to zoom and undo are common tools that digital artists, including myself, use often.
The extra functions, however, are a double-edged sword. Since the tools exist to correct technical flaws, such as colouring out of the lines or uneven line art, I find myself lost in the technical details and “over perfecting” an image when the artistic imperfections might have benefited the painting in a creative way.
I have returned to exploring traditional media in the last year and greatly enjoy how quickly I can work with Copic markers and watercolour.
What work has most significance to you and why?
My newest and oldest works both are equally significant. Looking back and forth between how much improvement has happened in the years past motivates me to keep drawing.
Who is your favourite artist?
I have so many! To list a few: George Kimitani for his work in Odin Sphere, Kuem from Pixiv, Itsuki from Portalgraphics, Audrey Kawasaki, David Downtown and Takenaka for their fashion illustrations, Miyazaki for his films, Reiji Miyajima and Tanemura Arina for her manga, Final Fantasy everything and many more of whom I don’t even know their names yet. I’m sorry I deliberately disobeyed the question…I can’t just pick one!
Do you still feel a strong connection to China?
Most of my family still lives in China today, and my parents, who immigrated to the USA with me, have kept our Chinese culture strong at home. I have participated in Asian-American student organizations in college and high school. I strongly identify myself as Chinese but it is difficult to always be an active member of the community when there are fewer friends of the same age and cultural background.
Lastly, if you could be any Sailor Moon character, who would you be and why?
Sailor Jupiter! I love the way she’s strong and very feminine at the same time. She was very inspiring (and also might have had something to do with my tomboyish phase in Junior High) and very fun to draw.
If you think you have a story to tell, please email : [email protected]