Born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, Wai grew up in Australia with a pencil in one hand and paper in the other. She studied Fashion Design and Production at Broadmeadows College of TAFE and later on received a Diploma and a Certificate in Illustration from NMIT in Melbourne. While early inspiration came from comic books, today fashion, film and travel are key influences.
Every image begins with a pencil sketch, which Wai works on until the composition is right. Then she scans it and redraws it in Illustrator, honing her colour palette. Finally, she gently brushes in the shading with Photoshop.
Using crisp, clean lines, Wai crafts elegant feminine forms with a subtle sense of dynamism. While minimal in their look and feel, she judiciously embellishes many of her images with decorative flourishes, playing with negative space and using shading for a timeless effect.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Wai: Something I heard as a child, 'The universe is at the end of your pencil.' Question: Where are you originally from? Wai: Kowloon, Hong Kong. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Wai: We moved to Australia when I was three, and I now live with my own family in the same little house in Melbourne where I grew up. I love that it is full of memories. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Wai: The main room of our house is my studio. I have a drawing table, a plan cabinet, a display case, and a corner desk. Although lately, I find I do everything at the one corner desk, sketch, work on my Mac, feed my boys! Question: How do you get your ideas? Wai: I have a constant flow of beautiful images in my mind from my teenage years spent poring over fashion journals. Question: Do you collect anything? Wai: I collect my printed work when I can, I love to see the final result. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you've recently completed. Wai: I love editorial work, it allows for a lot of creative freedom. At the moment, I have a few monthly illustrations with rougemag.com that I am really enjoying.
Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Wai: If it involves fashion or beauty, it’s a dream job! Question: Who is your illustration hero? Wai: I admire the drama in the work of 1920’s illustrator Erté. Question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Wai: When I was 17 and trying to decide what to study after high school (though knowing what I loved but unsure if it was realistic) my mum told me that I should choose a career that made me happy. Question: Have you any hidden talents? Wai: I can juggle 3 oranges. Question: What is the funniest thing you have ever done? Wai: I’m not sure if this is funny, or insane, but the night before I was booked for a c-section with my second baby, I did not sleep to make a deadline. We were due at the hospital and I was still working frantically, I remember saying to my husband 'hold on, just one more leg to shade!' I made both deadlines! Question: Why do fools fall in love? Wai: I think you are a fool if you don’t allow yourself to fall in love.