Meet Weiwei Leung, a truly multidisciplinary creative who refuses to be defined
Based in Berlin, Weiwei is interested in projects where she can “combine storytelling, visuals, music and movements into an integrated experience.”
- Ruby Boddington
- 7 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Weiwei Leung’s journey to her current base in Berlin has been a cross-continental and cross-disciplinary one. Originally from the coastal city of Zhuhai in southern China, she studied at the Royal College of Art in London, lived and worked in both Shanghai and Copenhagen before finally settling in Germany in 2018. She’s been working in capital ever since as an artist and freelance art director. “Occasionally I also do sound performances,” she explains.
Upon being introduced to Weiwei’s portfolio, our first instinct was to figure out where her practice sits along the creative spectrum. With illustrative projects across the board, Weiwei’s work features myriad outputs and flashes of both artistic and commercial work. “I see myself primarily as an artist, in the broadest sense. I do many different things, from image-making to videos and installations,” she tells us. Instead of subscribing to one fixed medium, Weiwei uses mediums and aesethics as “tools and a palette for me to materialise any envisioned experience and present it to the audience.”
Weiwei’s first loves were drawing and painting but these no longer provide enough exploration for the creative. With a desire to work on projects that include visual and time-based elements such as sound, movement or storytelling all in one package, she now finds the role of art director the most apt whenever she needs to “put on a quick label.” She explains: “It covers a wide range of artistic languages, and it offers a role in between an artist and a director. It gives me the most freedom to realise a concept or a vision, by working with different mediums and professionals from all kinds of backgrounds.” But defining her work or her role by these kinds of predetermined labels is not important to Weiwei, “I only think about shapes and shades, tones and rhythms, proportions and emotions – in general, about how to make a poetic representation,” she says.
It follows, therefore, that Weiwei resists any kind of consistent visual language in her portfolio, adapting her output based on “what the content itself calls for.” However, over time, she has been able to identify some “underlying traits” which define her work, the key words being “abstraction, movement, highly-internalised visual interpretations for non-visual content, musicality, non-linear poetic narration.”
GalleryWeiwei Leung: Cover design for album “Carina Khorkhordina, Eric Bauer” released on cassettes
A project which succinctly marries Weiwei’s interests in visual storytelling and time-based media, sees her designing a series album covers for experimental music. Each cover’s design is, in turn, a direct response to in-depth listening. “I tried to capture the essence of each musical piece by rendering it through an intuitive, almost synesthetic imagination,” Weiwei says. This intention is clear in the project in which each cover is abstract, expressive and different from the one before it.
In another project, Weiwei took on visualising a worldwide Corona-related phenomenon, illustrating people’s dreams during the pandemic. She gathered an extraordinary collection of dreams from different people in the form of voice messages, translating these narrations into digital illustrations. These were then displayed on a monitor, facing outward from a window onto the street, showing one digital drawing per 24 hours. The voice recordings for each drawing were also accessible by smartphone, via a link to the project’s website.
Looking ahead, Weiwei is currently working on a theatre project which is going to premiere in March 2021. “I will be writing and directing the show, and will also take part in the sound and props-making process,” she tells us, clearly excited for the project which will finally allow her to “combine storytelling, visuals, music and movements into an integrated experience.” It’s in this amalgamation of practices that makes Weiwei’s work so compelling becomes clear; refusing to be defined by a single job role leaves her free to explore and create freely, and the results speak for themselves. It’s on these kinds of projects that she hopes to continue working, becoming involved in animations, films or even video games.
Cover design for album “Baza” released on cassettes. Riso print in neon pink and golden brown. The visual element is a leg of a broken sunglasses
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.