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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Jenny Tang: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

A recent graphic arts graduate, Jenny Tang has created a fabulous image featuring a page full of hungry dogs - featured in my upcoming colouring book.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Jenny Tang The Jaguar
Jenny Tang contributes a vibrant image to Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, featuring loads of excitable dogs chasing some sausages, I love it! Jenny is a recent graduate of Bucks New Uni with a degree in Graphic Arts and would one day like to get into publishing and editorial.

Jenny Tang The Jaguar
Why did you decide to enter an image for the colouring book and what inspired your choice of subject matter?
Well, a while back I had seen the Kickstarter campaign for your 10th anniversary magazine, That Which We Do Not Understand. I was really intrigued by the brief and thought it was a great project (I’m also inexplicably drawn to anything printed with gold). Unfortunately I was a little late to it so I was unable to get involved, however since then I popped in now and again and was delighted to see another interesting open brief; I couldn’t resist! The rest as they say, is history.

I thought about what current colouring books offered and most were of intricate patterns or detailed flora, which were good and all but not really my cup of tea. I love engaging people with characters or stories, so I wanted to create something that a person could use a starting point for their own narrative whilst they were colouring. What are each of the dog’s names? What are their personalities? Who is the pack leader? Will they ever outrun that butcher? I love the playful nature of dogs, which is an aspect I hope to convey in the image as well as encourage readers to be more like them!

Jenny tang dog spread
How did you set about creating your picture?
I always start with thumbnails to explore what ideas might work, one of the first ideas for the brief was lots of cats following a crazy cat lady. When I eventually settled on an idea I sketch it all out and use a light box to line everything. I find that doing line work on another sheet makes clearing up a lot easier as you don’t have to worry about getting rid of the pencil marks. I then scan it in and colour using Photoshop.

Jenny Tang The Interview
Why did you decide to combine studies in illustration and graphic arts and what is your favourite part in the process of creation?
Interesting question, I guess being able to know different skills outside of illustration can only ever be a good thing in my eyes. I originally wanted to be a ‘pure’ graphic designer but my heart never left illustration. I was lucky in that my university course openly encouraged exploring different disciplines and had many students with different ambitions, we had graphic designers, children’s book illustrators; even people that wanted to start their own clothing brand. In terms of graphic design, I loved doing layout, editorial and publishing; learning design for me was pushing what I could do with my illustrations and vice versa. Why just do an illustration when you can create and design your own illustrated publication? The skills were also pretty handy when I had to design my business cards and CV…

My favourite part of the process is sketching, you don’t have to worry much about ‘failing’, it’s the bit where if it ends of looking a bit rubbish you can just hide it away and everyone else is none the wiser. Colouring is starting to become a favourite too, it never used to be; I hated it but after practising and a lot of cajoling from my tutor I’ve gotten better at it and it’s quite satisfying seeing an image come to life.

Jenny Tang Interchange Cover
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your Interchange comic strip?
Sure, I was in a long-distance relationship for around 2 years with a charming man from Leeds. I was down South and since neither of us had a car the train was next best option. We saw each other on average 3 days per month, usually the weekend just before or after payday! Subsequently, I had a stack of train tickets which catalogued each time we saw each other and the other places we went to. (One of my favourite tickets is my 1st January ticket to London; we celebrated New Year’s Eve on a Thames boat cruise.) I’m a sucker for soppy stories and have always wanted to create a comic, so armed with a mapped out timeline and plenty of soppy fodder I set about creating Interchange. For those that may be wondering, we’re still happily together and he’s recently moved down!

jenny Tang Garden of Eden an Experimental Illustration
Why do you love rabbits so much?
Since my sister is allergic to cat and dog fur my parents compromised and got us rabbits instead. I’ve always had at least one throughout my childhood, with imaginative names like Blackie, Smudge and Patch. I loved them all to bits and to this day rabbits still incite such a strong dose of cute aggression not many animals can match. I think they’re under appreciated creatures when compared to cats and dogs, but I love the shapes they make and some of the mannerisms they have. For example when a rabbit expresses pure joy they run and jump erratically about, flicking their bodies; rabbit enthusiasts call them ‘binkies’ and it’s so unrestrained that they often land/crash into walls and furniture.

Jenny Tang Fluorescent Animal Posters
Where do you look for inspiration when you are most in need?
Strange as it may seem, most of the time it’s from reading newspaper articles or watching a documentary. Usually they involve something controversial but not always. The subject matter is always thought-provoking though and gets my mind thinking about the wider world and how I could portray it in a illustration. For example my jaguar illustration was inspired by a National Geographic article called ‘Path of the Jaguar‘ and a more recent documentary I was inspired by was about whether video games really do make people violent. If I get stuck on something more technical like perspectives or backgrounds I look to graphic novels. They are really good for top notch illustration, and they always have interesting compositions and layouts.

Jenny Tang Interchange Artwork
Jenny Tang Interchange Artwork 2
Can you describe the space where you work, what would we find there?
At the moment I’m a bit of an nomad illustrator, I don’t have a permanent studio yet and have to find some pretty, er, interesting places to work at. I’ve drawn on the bus, in bed, on an ironing board, a glass chopping board from that time I tried to make a makeshift light box (it didn’t work out) and occasionally a table when I sneak into the university studio despite graduating. There’s this awkward transitioning period after you graduate for illustrators; do you get a full-time job to be financially secure or do you just go for it and jump straight into freelance? Of course, unless you’re very lucky to already have clients under your belt before you leave university you have that catch 22 of a full-time job with more money but less time to draw or starting freelance with more time but less/no money. There’s this pressure from friends, family and yourself to get your career kick started and I must admit when I see fellow graduates seemingly move straight into the professional sphere I sweat about what I’m not doing. I guess that I’m still trying to figure things out in that department.

However, I am saving up for a studio space and already have optimistic dream of what will go in it. I would love to have a Risograph printer and a bunch of nice looking furniture (probably from Ikea) that will house my growing collection of graphic novels. You’ll probably also find lots of paper and work in progresses dotted around the place, a worn out drawing tablet, a dying succulent and a giant inflatable T-Rex.

Jenny Tang Spot the Difference Dinosaurs
Jenny tang Spot the Difference Dinosaurs 2
What kind of art do you hope to be making in the future?
At the moment I know I’ve still got a lot to learn and still have an open mind as what to do. However, eventually I would love to become a freelance illustrator or something that would combine both design and illustration together; like children’s publication or editorial. As long as I’m able to draw and design, I’ll know I’ll be a happy person.

Jenny Tang 100 Likes Promo Illustration
Jenny Tang is one of the contibutors to Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, available really really soon on Kickstarter.

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