Illustration We Love: Wai Wai Pang

Wai Wai Pang is an illustrator based in Milton Keynes whose creations we have admired for several years. We recently met her at Brighton Illustration Fair – we visited her stall separately and quickly agreed that we had to buy her new detective mystery comic book “Ripples”. We love Wai Wai’s sometimes cute, always fun drawing style and the variety of stuff on her website, from the playful workshops she runs to the beautiful abstract compositions she makes.

We decided it would be nice to do an interview with Wai Wai and here are the results:

1.You live and work in Milton Keynes. What’s fun to do there? 

On a sunny MK day with only the wispiest of clouds lingering on the big blue, you could take a bike to cycle along the redway, then stop at Willen Lake to eat and drink with friends. When the sun starts to set, head back up City (what we call our town centre) and catch the glass and metal of the shopping centre be bathed in orange and pink. On a gloomy day, loiter inside the shopping centre people watching, window shopping, kokoro for lunch, dessert under the golden arches, drinks at ‘spoons!

Sunset, Wonder by Wai Wai Pang
Sunset, Wonder
2. Do you have a studio? What’s it like?

I do, it’s in what used to be an old car workshop and I work beside a minty green wall in the shared atrium area. It can be a pain to get to, but when I’m there it’s a space where I can sort through my thoughts, and have room to lay out ideas. My studio practice is 70% rearranging the furniture and my ever growing collection of things from the scrap store, 30% snacking, then maybe work if I find time after those activities.

Ripples by Wai Wai Pang

Ripples by Wai Wai Pang


3. How much real life stuff, if any, goes into your comic book stories?

A healthy amount…

4. What’s your drawing process like? 

Do you know that movement of hovering over the paper and miming the motion of drawing or writing? Sometimes I see Chinese calligraphy masters do it before they whip out some giant swooshing character. It’s hesitation but also preparation and anticipation, like poising before the whistle blows and you plunge in. I think my process is sort of about mentally getting to that point. After that it feels like luck and I’m just hoping everything turns out ok.

Sketchbook drawings by Wai Wai Pang

Sketchbook drawings by Wai Wai Pang

Sketchbook drawings by Wai Wai Pang
Sketchbook drawings
5. What do you listen to or watch while you work?

I’m almost always binging a bad TV show in the background. Right now I’m re-watching Gossip Girl…
I got so lazy with music for a while, but since having a studio I’ve put more thought into what I listen to and how it can change my working environment. I’ve recently really loved Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I like to play the live performances where Simon Jeffes talks in between the tracks.

6. Do you have any pets? If not, what animal would you most like to live with?

I don’t have any pets, but it’s getting cold in the studio! Maybe a big giant cat that can provide me warmth and company.

Clouds by Wai Wai Pang
7. What’s your tipple of choice? 

Anything blue

8. We really like your comic about your trip to Japan, where would you like to go next?

Japan again!

Itinerary comic zine by Wai Wai Pang

Itinerary comic zine by Wai Wai Pang
Itinerary diary comic zine
9. How did your Maze Quest collaboration with Ed Cheverton come about? Did you have any bust-ups in the process?
It was really interesting and fun to work on MQ. Ed and I were in the same year at university, but never actually worked on anything together, so it was exciting to be able to do that finally. He’s just such a confident and inventive maker. I pause a lot doubting everything, but Ed reminds you drawing should be, well, enjoyable.
We didn’t have any bust ups – right, Ed?
Maze Quest by Wai Wai Pang and Ed Cheverton
Maze Quest by Wai Wai Pang and Ed Cheverton
Maze Quest collaboration with Ed Cheverton
10. What would be your dream assignment or commission?

I love that old TV show where kids get free reign to redecorate a room in their home. I remember there was one episode that went particularly badly and they turned their kitchen into a burger bar. If there is a family out there willing to turn their home over to me, I would love to give a house a makeover.

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