Over the past years, Jing Wei has become somewhat of a household name amongst illustrators. The Chinese-born, California-raised, and Brooklyn-based illustrator has collaborated with some of the biggest brands, including Google, Adobe, Airbnb, and Etsy, and was featured in top tier publications like New York Times and The New Yorker. She has also worked as the illustration director for Etsy.
So it comes as a surprise learning that she wasn’t formally introduced to illustration as a field, until going to college. “I was born in China, and no one in my family had a creative profession because it wasn’t an option available to anyone prior to my generation,” she relayed in an interview with Zappos. “Since I wasn’t deliberately exposed to the art world, my early influences came from books and TV.”
According to Wei, in middle and high school, she approached art-making solely as an exercise in skill-building with very little creativity or exploration. “When I was in college, I started to discover people like Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Lynda Barry, David B., and Marjane Satrapi,” she further recalled. “I’m in awe of people who can visualize a complex story.”
Having studied printmaking, her work these days is very much in dialogue with prints, with simple, clean shapes, the basis of her illustrations. After first exclusively making illustrations through woodcuts, she eventually mastered Photoshop, and nowadays is pretty fluid when it comes to her medium of choice.
“I hope that by pushing myself as an Asian female illustrator, I can at least be an example for younger girls who might not think this path is feasible,” she notes. Scroll down to see some recent work of hers.