I’m very excited to share Jing Wei’s sketchbooks today. Jing creates tightly crafted and thoughtful imagery, and it is just gorgeous. You may have seen Jing’s work in little places like The New Yorker, The New York Times, or Etsy (she just won a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators for her work there). Jing studied a bit of printmaking while at RISD and, looking at her sketchbooks, it shows. She uses her sketches as schematics; thorough plans to guide her through her image making process. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and works out of the Pencil Factory studio in Greenpoint. Visit her website or her Tumblr to see more work and inspiration.
Hi Jing, Let’s get basic: what prompts you to sketch?
I sketch as a process for my work. I wish that I did more fun sketching. Some people just do it in their day to day life because it naturally flows out of them. I always envy people who can do that. For me, it’s quite rigid. As you can see from my sketchbook; everything is very tightly organized, the dimensions are noted, I always have the end piece in mind. So I lay everything out in a very structured…you know….it’s very much like work, I think of it that way. I write down my ideas, I usually start with words and thoughts and then I translate them into thumbnails and then sketches. In some ways it’s the least creative process.
Oh boy. That sounds so…Do you hate it?
No! I don’t hate it. Drawing is actually not my favorite thing to do-my favorite thing to do is to put together an image. Does that make sense?
Actually, it does. You work feels quite designy-I wonder if that’s a symptom of your process?
It is moving that way. I have a bit of background in printmaking so everything has to be planned out from the first step. I think that has something to do with it. Some people make a drawing and and let it organically become what it wants to become. They have no idea what it will look like and they let it change along the way. I know what my images will look like from the first step. But that’s fun for me because I enjoy the process of refining.
How do you know when your work is done?
I mean, you know when you’re overworking it. But I will say I think that can be a problem for me. A lot of the time I lose that spontaneity and that looseness which I admire in other people’s work. Right now I am actually looking for opportunities to sketch for fun and to let go of drawing being attached to work. I do think it’s a very important process. It’s a good habit to keep up because it can elevate your work-you can have small breakthroughs by just playing around.
Does that mean you doodle?
I do not doodle.
What? And you call yourself an illustrator?
I know, crazy right? I’m a fraud! A fraud! You know what? Now that I think about it, I don’t draw on paper so much for fun, but I do make a lot of things. Maybe you can consider that my doodles. I make these little collages and crafts. It’s more fun for me to be making things with my hands physically as opposed to putting pencil to paper. I don’t know if that counts. My instincts go towards collages. I think you can consider that a form of doodling-that feels more intuitive to me. A sketchbook is a more traditional way I guess.
Do you have old sketchbooks that you keep or revisit?
I do! Oh my gosh! I have sketchbooks from high school and college. The drawings in those books are very different than my work now. I’ve moved so far from that now since I’m working professionally, but I feel like it’s a constant cycle. You know, sometimes you feel like you’re doing too much of your personal work, sometimes you feel like you’re floundering a bit, perhaps you’re going too much in a commercial direction. It’s really a constant back and forth between finding something creatively satisfying and something that propels your career.
Ok, last question, keeping it light: What is your favorite thing to draw?
It changes-I go through phases. I like to draw more patterny decorative things. I believe there’s a stigma around drawing something that doesn’t have conceptual weight to it, but if I were to be without the constraints of client work I feel like I would just be making weird little characters with googley eyes. Stuff that would be considered cute. I hate it when people call my work cute. It crushes my soul. But I recently made this here burrito with eyes on it, I have to say, it is pretty cute.
Thank you Jing! To see more of Jing’s work, please visit her website.