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Vikki Zhang

Vikki Zhang

Meet Vikki Zhang, an artist and illustrator from Huai’an and New York

GirlsclubAsia-Illustrator-Vikki Zhang-Photo-2

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Vikki Zhang is a Chinese artist, illustrator, and owner of designer brand NIANYI. Winner of 16th CACC, 13th National Exhibition of Fine Art China. She works on children’s books, packaging design, advertising, fashion, and film art. She held her solo exhibitions in New York, Shanghai, Beijing 798, and Foshan.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I’ve been in New York since 2016 when I studied in SVA MFA illustration program. But these days, effected by COVID-19, I am living with my parents in my hometown, Huai’an. As many of you quite familiar with New York, I think it’s more fun to talk about Huai’an, a small city located in central Jiangsu province.  Its area spans by an ancient canal. I grew up in a traditional Siheyuan beside this canal with a big family. There were women doing laundry, cargoes crossing by, men and kids fishing along the canal in my memory. It’s an ideal place to live, quiet, historical, people here are simple and honest, and most importantly, where you can find the most authentic Chinese food.

 

It’s an ideal place to live, quiet, historical, people here are simple and honest, and most importantly, where you can find the most authentic Chinese food.

 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The worst thing is, not just happening in Huai’an, the rapid process of modernization makes all the Chinese cities look similar. The convenience of daily life got improved at the cost of killing the soul of an area. The best is Huai’an kept made a nice balance under this situation.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

cozy, idyllic, amusing

 

How did you start your career in art?

When I was in freshman year at college, my professor asked the class if anyone could do watercolor painting, her friend’s company was looking for a children’s book illustrator. I raised my hand and luckily got that part-time job. I was studying digital game designing at that time, and have no idea of making a children’s book. But I know how much I’ve been into that. I used to copy a lot of artworks from some antique victorian picture books borrowed from a French library. That’s also how I learnt to use pen and watercolor.

As I continuously have new books published during college time, some were popular. I tried to submit my work to an art platform and unexpectedly got featured. Since then I got more commissions, and gradually I thought maybe I could live on that.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Yes. I am truly grateful to have their love and support all the time. Sometimes they are even more persistent than me.

 

Make new work of stronger, more distinguished style, simply drawing what I like.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

Make new work of stronger, more distinguished style, simply drawing what I like. Wish to develop a series of products, such as toys, apparel, space, based on my art. If possible, move to Paris and stay for several years. The environment had great impact on my work.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Alessandro Michele, art director of Gucci

 

What are the biggest challenges you face in working as a creative?

Deep working and focusing for long hours despite the consistent interruptions.

 

Because I am running the brand NIANYI at the same time, I got to have a group of entrepreneur friends. Their businesses are outstanding in the industry, and they are very young, beautiful, humorous, optimistic, and never stop embracing the next challenge.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Because I am running the brand NIANYI at the same time, I got to have a group of entrepreneur friends. Their businesses are outstanding in the industry, and they are very young, beautiful, humorous, optimistic, and never stop embracing the next challenge.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

My mom, although she doesn’t work as an artist. She loves doodling in her notebook, black areas of documents or sheets, during meetings, and internals of work. Her drawing is the most engaging artwork to me. She told me people should choose a job from real passion. She felt sorry that she herself couldn’t because of her family. Even so, she won’t cease doing her favorite.

 

Being true and having faith in myself. It not easy as it sounds, which requires total self-confidence and inner power built from persistent work and self-exploration day after day.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Being true and having faith in myself. It not easy as it sounds, which requires total self-confidence and inner power built from persistent work and self-exploration day after day.

 


What’s your favorite local food spot?

The rice roll cart nearby my middle school

 

Akane Malbeni asks: What are you into outside of being a creative?

Nature and science

 

Deborah Lee asks: What do you like most about your work?

The characters’ dressing and their home decos.

 

Anushka Tendolkar asks: Have you ever had imposter syndrome? How did you overcome it?

Interesting question. But I never thought of that because I am on the opposite extreme. Sometime I doubted myself why so unlucky haha.

 

What question would you like us to ask the next artist?

Have you ever admired peer and elder artists who did excellent work and can’t help to doubt your own style, artistic subject, collaboration patterns with your clients  etc.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Vikki Zhang

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