In her 44-page comic, Pat Wingshan Wong uses a computer interface to represent the repetition of daily life
Experiences of loneliness and isolation over lockdown have inspired the illustrator's new comic, R.A.M.
- Olivia Hingley
- 25 August 2022
For many people, the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 caused feelings of loneliness like they had never experienced before. This was the case for illustrator Pat Wingshan Wong. Facing an uncertain future – especially while living as an immigrant in the UK – Pat details that “going through social media to check friends’ stories became my only connection to the world”. It’s these experiences of loneliness, isolation and repetitive living that lie beneath her strikingly blue-toned, 44-page comic R.A.M.
The project began after Pat made the difficult decision this April to move back to Hong Kong. While having found a community she loved in London, Pat had received a “great” teaching offer. “I was also confused about my identity as an outsider, with all of the cultural and language barriers," she says. Returning to illustrations she had made over lockdown as a means of reflecting on her experience, it was then that she decided to “create a project to say a proper goodbye to this place and its people”.
Pat’s use of the language and visuals of a computer interface throughout the comic has a dual meaning. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, it's a way of reflecting on Pat’s reliance on digital media and technology over the period – a “visual metaphor for the repetition of daily life at home”. Secondly, it's a way of exploring “the imaginary experience between virtual and physical home space through a migrant lens”. The comic – despite its charming, “imperfectly” hand drawn objects and figures – certainly gives the impression of staring at a display screen. This is achieved through the use of a consistent, blue-centric colour palette, graphic geometric squares and patterns to create a “glitchy” impression. Her decision to use a comic format was also very purposeful, chosen for the way it pushes readers to interact with the materials. “I think the time element of reading comics is the only thing that can deliver the mundane repetition of life and the frustration of doing something useful but meaningless like domestic work,” Pat says.
Being quite a spontaneous project, the storyline became quite experimental and formed without a clear plan. “The most difficult part was trying to align every piece into a narrative,” Pat explains. "The outcome pretty much depended on the process.” But, working in such an unmediated way was a “delight” for Pat, and she revelled in the instinctive and intense drawing sessions. She purposefully allowed herself to backtrack on ideas and add new things in half way through the project: “I enjoyed the journey without any boundaries and judgement about what should be included or not,” she adds.
Concluding her thoughts, Pat understands the project to be one that is “frankly and intimately about myself”. Providing a space for her to work and think differently, it has also ended up restoring her creative energy, and soothing her more existential worries. "It was a meditative process to help me reveal and clean up the mess from what I perceived in the world.” Flicking through this project, we can safely say it’s also an exceptionally meditative one to read too.
GalleryPat Wingshan Wong: R.A.M (Copyright © Pat Wingshan Wong, 2022)
Pat Wingshan Wong: R.A.M (Copyright © Pat Wingshan Wong, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.