Featured Illustrator

Weitong Mai

November 2019

Weitong Mai is a Chinese-born Canadian Freelance Illustrator working out of London, with a long list of advertising, packaging and editorial clients, from Moleskine to Dettol. We recently caught up with her to chat about working as a freelance illustrator, how important it is to keep clients in the loop, and tips on developing your own style as an illustrator.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, and graduated two years ago. I was lucky to kick off my illustration career during my college years. I received my first commission from Moleskine and Tmall when I was in the third year, for an online commercial poster.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I am a freelance illustrator based in London, UK. I provided both commercial and editorial illustrations for clients, such as DK Books, The National Trust, Dettol, Moleskine, Fever-Tress, and more.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Checking email is always the first thing I do once I wake up. After having some simple breakfast, I usually make myself either tea or coffee to motivate myself to the working routine. I would read through the project brief twice or three times to fully understand my client’s request. It is essential to update the progress to your client in every stage, such as draft, colour palette, through to the final outcome.

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It is important to try different materials and methods in the first place, and find out the way that suits your aesthetic output

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice. And that’s how you begin. And the one day someone will steal from you.” — Francis Ford Coppola.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

In my point of view, personal style is based on personal aesthetic preference. Every artist is unique and special. It is important to try different materials and methods in the first place, and find out the way that suits your aesthetic output. It is essential to learn from other artists and designers, to break down their art pieces and think about why you like their works, but never follow any trend that is different from your aesthetic approach.

What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

I really wanna to keep my own cat this year. :) I also want to learn some fundamental motion graphic skills, in order to animate my illustrations.

Website: weitongmai.com

Instagram: @weitong_mai

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