Illustrating for Editorial | Cindy Kang

last updated 16 March 2020

Bright’s Cindy Kang is a New York-based artist who frequently works on editorial illustrations. Her recent clients include Slate Magazine, Outside Magazine and Shado Magazine. Her bold colour palettes and stylised characters make her the perfect accompaniment to editorial and opinion pieces.

Here she shares some of her tips and techniques for creating editorial illustrations and shows us what went into some of her recent projects.


title Cindy at work // Cindy’s lead illustration of ‘Cashing in on Climate Change’ for Slate Magazine


Tell us a bit about your recent editorial projects.


Recently, I worked on a project for Slate Magazine on a feature about climate change. Since the discussion about environmental issues is huge, I was so thrilled to dive into the project. It was to create a series about the industries that stand to benefit from the toll of climate change. I did a lot of research, and also tried a new illustration approach that I don’t usually do, of adding several elements/stories in a single picture. It was a challenging but enjoyable project to work on!


title Rough sketch for Slate Magazine // Finished illustration for Slate Magazine


How does editorial illustration differ from other illustration work? Are there any unique challenges involved?


When it comes to editorial work, it is not only about creating a beautiful image, but also about portraying the message of the story. I think editorial projects require a lot of research because simply reading the text might not be enough to illustrate the best image – the illustrator should know thoroughly about what is going on in the story. It’s challenging to create an eye-catching opening image for the viewer to get their attention, as well as conveying the message and perhaps a sense of humour. I think all these creative challenges are what make editorial projects more fun.


title Rough sketch for Slate Magazine // Finished illustration for Slate Magazine


Where do you find inspiration for your editorial illustrations?


I find inspirations for editorial projects from various news media. I try to stay up to date by reading newspapers, magazines, and books. Social media helps a lot with this too – there is plenty of inspiring artwork with interesting themes out there by other creatives. Also, I love working on narrative illustrations about emotions. I find books and films very inspiring. Some of the colour palettes of my works come from the scenes of my favourite movies.


title Cindy’s lead illustration of ‘Love in Exile’ for Shado Magazine // Illustration details


What’s your favourite thing about illustrating for editorial clients?


Illustrating for editorial clients is always challenging, but I love that I can get so involved in the project. It feels good to work for the best solution, trying to make the image more fun and compelling. The feeling you could get after receiving final feedback from the client is amazing; then you realize how all your effort was so worth it!


title Rough sketch for Outside Magazine // Finished illustration for Outdoor Magazine


How do you decide what part of the article/content to focus on in your illustrations?


I focus on headlines, keywords, and the overall atmosphere of the article – whether it’s about a positive or negative topic. If it’s something negative, I will try to add some sense of humour to the image as well.


What’s your dream client to work with?


I’d love to work with The New York Times, National Geographic and The Times.


title Development illustrations


What drew you to the Bright Agency?


When looking for representation, I found the Bright Agency on Instagram. All the art I saw on their feed was so lovely, and a lot of them had a similar style to my own work. Also, I found out that a few of my favourite illustrators were represented by the Bright Agency. They seem to love working with their agents, so I thought it would be wonderful for me to develop my career with Bright, just as the artists I admired had done.


title Development illustration // Cindy at work


Why is being part of an agency important to you?


There are many things professional artists have to deal with other than art, such as marketing, contracts, and legal. It’s really great to have Bright helping me out with that. They know the industry very well, and they always have the answers to all types of questions. Having Bright’s support helps me to focus more on just making art. Also, being part of a supportive community of Bright artists is amazing. It makes me feel connected online and offline. It’s great to interact with other artists, and encourage and appreciate each other’s projects.



Cindy is represented by Helen Biles. To work with Cindy, please get in touch.

You can see more of Cindy’s work in her portfolio.

Follow Cindy on Instagram: @cindysykang


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