When we first came across the wonderful works of Ginko Yang last year, we were struck by her innovative ability to apply her graphic design training to the art of illustration. In one short year, she has progressed even further, having had the chance to collaborate with some exceptionally exciting clients, from Condé Nast to Lazy Oaf (practically every illustrator’s dream). Amongst all this, it’s been a very busy year for the designer-cum illustrator, as she’s yet to finish her master’s degree at London’s UAL.
Flitting between Photoshop and Illustrator to create her artworks, not much has really changed in terms of the Chinese designer’s creative process. What has changed, however, is her outlook on the work. Ginko tells It’s Nice That: “I try much less to get inspiration from other people’s work and am paying more attention to objects or actual experiences in my life.” Other new influences of her work which she’s “obsessed” with at the moment, are contemporary graphic novels.
She cites Joe Kessler’s Windowpane as an original artwork she comes back to frequently for inspiration, admiring his ability to “reconstruct scenes and character with colour and line in a unique way.” Alternatively, she’s also found Woshibai’s comics interesting, immersing herself in the way he seamlessly interweaves dramatic twists and moments of tranquillity through stories of daily life. Similarly, Ginko is always open to new collaborations and new ways of working which can help push or develop her style further.
Keen to keep on learning on and generate as many new creative possibilities as she can, an ideal opportunity came her way when she was approached by Condé Nast Traveller China (again) for a new editorial campaign. Over the past year, the publishing company has become a frequent client for Ginko, for which she is “really appreciative” as it allows her a lot of creative freedom. The editor asked her to create a series of sequential comics for a feature titled The Survival Guide for Young Travellers, an unconventional turn for editorial illustration which usually prefers one to commission one composition per illustration.
With an open attitude of “let’s see what we can get,” Ginko was tasked with visually expressing four phrases, emphasising a variety of psychological syndromes that can be contracted in relation to their smartphones. The terms were social anxiety disorder, smartphone dependence, select phobia and procrastination – a bunch of things that I’m sure a few of us can certainly relate to. “I wanted it to be light-hearted while expressing the critical attitude towards our lifestyle in the digital era,” says Ginko of her creative approach. In turn, she devised her illustrative narrative around a city girl who “like any of us,” sometimes enjoys social media a bit too much.
In other work, she collaborated with the beloved publisher Same Paper, also, incidentally, an It’s Nice That favourite. In conjunction with its pop ups around China displaying an array of photography books, Ginko harnessed the nostalgic aesthetic of 80s Japanese illustration and created a series of works in a similar style. “I drew influence from the palette of Suzuki Eijin’s old words and incorporated relevant elements of Chinese cities,” adds the illustrator on the beautifully evocative works. As for the future, Ginko hopes to continue to develop her storytelling skills further while continuing to live in London. “I can’t really plan too far because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” she finally ends our interview with, but with this uncertainty, also comes excitement and opportunity. And we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Ginko Yang: City Pop