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In Conversation With Mimi Yang

last updated 14 August 2023

Interview by Nina Fiol

As we continue with our artist features, this months In Conversation With is with Bright artist, Mimi Yang. Mimi’s adorable and dream-like watercolor illustrations are usually featuring animals doning human actions, such as watching television, skiing, and grocery shopping. Mimi has been a part of Bright for the past year and we are increidbly lucky represent such a talent.

“Mimi is a magical creative who always goes above and beyond for anyone she works with. At Bright we feel truly proud to represent Mimi and her wonderful array of art work. - Mimi’s agent, Lucie Luddington, on working closely with her.


Talk us through your creative process. How do you approach a brief?

I read through the brief and start by making lots of doodles on loose sheets of paper. I let whatever comes to mind go on the paper. Often fun and unexpected ideas pop out when I’m not precious with the materials and drawings. Spontaneity is key. After filling enough sheets and collecting some ideas, I move onto making thumbnail sketches. Everything is still very rough in this stage, I think about the composition, sizes of different elements and the expression of the characters. Gradually (and hopefully) I would find a composition I like and the sketches become more refined. Then I make a very faint sketch on the watercolour and the fun part begins! I mix and plop down watercolours and add details with coloured pencils or crayons. I paint more details with watercolour and dry the drawing with a hairdryer because I can’t wait to add some more marks. Sometimes I work on two or three drawings at once so I can keep being in the flow. After I am happy with the drawing, I scan the illustrations onto the computer and make some small changes to finish.


Your work is aesthetically unique to you, how do you approach translating your ideas to the page?

Often I’m trying to portray a simple moment in daily life. I have a clear atmosphere and emotion in my mind that I want to illustrate. I like to imagine myself as the characters in the scene, doing what they are doing, feeling what they are feeling, even making the expressions the characters have. It’s probably really funny to see me doing this, but it works!


Who/What have been your key influences as an illustrator?

It’s really hard to pinpoint because I have so many favourite artists and they change constantly. I do find myself continuing to be moved by illustrators I loved when I was young. Jimmy Liao, a Taiwanese illustrator, creates beautiful and quiet scenes but at the same time they are powerful with emotions. French illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé’s characters are full of life yet they are painted with (seemingly spontaneous but actually decisive) few marks and a color.


How did you begin illustration?

Like every child, I loved drawing and making things when I was little. I started making little booklets (which my mom still keeps), then pop-up cards, then story books. It never stopped, really. I later graduated from the illustration department at Pratt Institute in the US, and continued to make artwork while doing various jobs over the years. After moving to Italy a few years ago, I attended the Bologna Children’s book fair and met Lucie at a portfolio review. Later l was asked if I wanted to join Bright, and here I am!


What’s your favourite part of the illustration process?

It has to be the doodling session at the very beginning. I don’t worry so much and tend to be free with my pencil marks. Lots of funny drawings come out at this stage and I keep them as ideas for the future. I also enjoy painting the final illustration after having figured out the composition. I love plopping down colors, watching the watercolor flow, adding details and eventually seeing it come to life.


To an up-and-coming artist, what’s one piece of advice you would give?

Continue to show up and make work but also take time to be outside of your studio. Go take a walk in the forest or talk to people at a cafe. That’s where the inspiration comes!


What would be your dream brief?

I would love to make something that invites kids to play, like a book with lots of little things to open and turn. Maybe a story book that comes with a playmat and characters made of felt. Or a storybook made of fabric so the kids can sleep in!


Thanks so much Mimi for taking a minute to chat with us. You can learn about Mimi’s process through this video that she made on our Instagram. To work with Mimi, get in touch with Lucie here.

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