Glasgow City Arts interviews Glasgow School of Art graduate Zhang Liang, currently working in Bejing as an illustrator. Zhang has recently finished his solo exhibition in Urban Outfitters and is due to release his very own illustrated book 'Men in Heels.'
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m an illustrator and printmaker. I was born and raised in China, but I’ve been based in UK for the past 5 years. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art with my masters in Illustration, after having completed my undergraduate degree here too.
If you weren’t an illustrator what profession would you do?
Maybe a toy collector, I’ve got a big collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, Lego toys…
Where or what do you get inspiration from?
When I draw, I listen to rap music. I'm heavily influenced by the love I have towards popular culture. My illustrations bask in television, cartoons, pop culture that has a love affair with Hip Hop and Disco and all those kind of things.
Could you tell us how you approach an illustration, in terms of what the process you go through to achieve the final outcome?
Firstly, I make sketches of my ideas and compositions on paper, I scan the drawing into black and white for the final pieces. I like to play with large blocks of bright colors using Photoshop to give my work more frenetic energy and fun. On occasion, I throw in some texture to enhance details. I enjoy picking colors, although it does take a while!
You are currently working in Beijing, how does life compare to your time as a Glaswegian?
I’m not feeling well because of the air pollution here, and there are not many resources that I can find in Beijing, so I’m planning to travel around and work in different places of the world.
How does your 9 to 5 work as an illustrator compare to your recreational illustration?
I’m enjoying them both. Working with clients and companies means follow some rules, which is good, it makes my work more meaningful, commercial and powerful. We are lucky to have the flexibility, most of my works can be done in my comfort home.
What words of advice would you give to students looking to make it in the world of illustration?
Use the power of Internet, read a lot: comics, stories… and most importantly, enjoy yourself.
Do you have any up and coming projects that we can look out for?
The deluxe editions of 'Men in Heels' are expected for an August release, separate Japanese and English editions will be available. I have also been selected to attend the third East London Comics and Arts Festival in June, hosted by Nobrow.
To see more of Zhang Laing's work visit: cargocollective.com/zhangliangray