Illustrator Janice Chang is a master of using composition to tell a story. Born and raised in LA, her work sees bodies and limbs intertwined with each other, honing in on gestural details which express so much with so little. Taking inspiration from the people around her – friends, family and “random strangers I see dancing in their cars” – Janice uses illustration to “[reveal] things that may be foreign to others and [allow] them to empathise with different types of people.”
Having studied just one city over from where she grew up at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, living and growing up in this area has had a big impact on Janice’s output. “I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by so many different cultures and people,” she explains. “I feel like my work takes on an honest representation of the sometimes humorous and bendy limbs of my characters, to talk about social issues, technology, feminism, the importance of diversity, and personal stories.”
Her illustrations, whether personal or for clients like The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and Dropbox resonate as they draw on real-life moments, triggering recognition in body language or facial expressions. They do this despite their playful, larger-than-life aesthetic thanks to Janice’s astute observations of the real world. “I carry around this little notebook and whenever I see something or a random thought pops up that could be interesting to explore, I’ll write it down,” she tells us. “I also have what feels like a million notes on my phone with different scenes or ideas.”
Janice was first introduced to the creative world by her mother who supported her taking art classes. “One of my favourite things to do as a kid was make tiny clay sculptures of food and I feel like even now not much has changed. I would always be sculpting something and painting on top of it,” she recalls. It wasn’t until she went to Art Center however that she realised illustration, specifically, was the avenue for her.
Today, her love of the medium lies in the space it creates for her to interpret and comprehend the world around her. “I love being able to visually explore things that I’m interested in, and learn so much along the way like when I’m given an assignment about a topic I’m not familiar with and have to research and fully immerse myself in that subject.” Currently working at State Design as a designer and illustrator, Janice’s work – with its colour palette of blues, greens and reds – is subtle in its conveyance of often somewhat serious subjects. An illustrator with a genuine understanding of human interactions, she explores our relationships with sensitive and vitality.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.