Author/Illustrator Interview: Joyce Wan

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I am in love.

With these board books:

You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan (Cartwheel Books, 2011)


A quote from the book:

"You are my. . . Chubby little pumpkin"

Detail shots of the interior:


We Belong Together by Joyce Wan (Cartwheel Books, 2011)


A quote from the book:

"We belong together. . . Like bacon and eggs every day"

Detail shots of the interior:


Can you see how my eyes are sparkling from reading these board books? They are good enough to eat! I shared them with my family and students and everyone just melted. Awww. <3

Author/illustrator Joyce Wan is here today to share about the books and Wanart, her greeting card and gift company. She's also going to give us a little tour of her studio!

Tarie: What is a typical day like at Wanart?

Joyce: There is no typical day at Wanart. I could be working on new card designs to working on new book ideas. It's different every day, and every hour even, but that's the way I like it! I always have coffee in the morning to start my day - gets me into work mode. I also always need music while I work - I don't think I can work without it. My musical taste tends to change over the years, but lately, if I need to write, be it a sales letter or a new story, I have to listen to classical music. Interestingly enough, I also find classical music works well if I have trouble motivating myself to work. If I'm drawing or designing something new I like contemporary pop/dance music by Rihanna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Florence + The Machine, Katy Perry. If the designing stage of a project is done and I'm doing more production work like tracing final drawings for a book dummy, or coloring drawings in Illustrator then I need my 80s music, stuff I can sing along with, music by Madonna, Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, U2, etc. For snacks, give me my Diet Coke and potato chips and I'm happy as a clam although I do occasionally like my Wild Berry Skittles especially when I really need to dig into a project and focus!

Tarie: Can you give us a tour of your studio?

Joyce: This is my workspace. I work mostly in the digital medium so I'm usually on my computer. I'll use my light table for the concept stages of developing a book and for creating book dummies. Hanging on the wall behind my desk is my inspiration board where I pin up printouts of stuff I'm working on, postcards, photographs, quotes, scraps of paper, fabric – anything I find that resonates with me. I think it's really important to create a space for yourself that nurtures your creative spirit.


If you look in this picture there is a window ledge to the right of my desk. I put all sorts of knick knacks here - I love to surround myself with all sorts of cute, happy, and lucky items! I treasure my collection of lucky cats especially!


This is the favorite part of my studio. It's where I sit when I need to clear my mind, flip through books of artists/authors I admire, and get inspired. The art books sitting on the table right now are about Charlie Harper, Murakami, and Yoshitomo Nara.


I also still have my little pink Christmas tree sitting on top of my filing cabinet in my office from this past holiday. It makes me happy so I left it up. It's Christmas all year round here in the Wanart studio! Haha!


Tarie: Gotta love a studio where it is Christmas all year round!

Please guide us through your creative process for You Are My Cupcake and We Belong Together.

Joyce: A lot of my book ideas are inspired by my card designs. You Are My Cupcake is based on a line of New Baby cards and We Belong Together off of a line of Love cards. My card designs usually start as sketches. Then I scan and trace and color in Adobe Illustrator. My art for both books was created digitally.

The very original concept sketch when I first came up with the idea [You Are My Cupcake] back in 2009:


Images of the packages that I sent out to publishers when I was pitching the idea. The packages contained a cover letter, my bio, a Wanart catalog, a book dummy, and a manuscript page.




Tarie: Very impressive book pitch!

Please tell us about how you are influenced and inspired by traditional and pop Asian culture.


Joyce: For my card line I generally have two styles. I have designs that feature elements of traditional Chinese culture and themes such as cards featuring the animals of the Chinese Zodiac and decorative motifs inspired by the traditional Chinese folk art of paper-cutting. My parents are originally from China so traditional Chinese culture, holidays, and imagery were very much part of my childhood. These cards were also the reason why I started my company to begin with because when I went away to college I never found cards I felt I could send to my parents. As my company grew, I further expanded to include more designs that are kawaii (Japanese term used to describe cute things) inspired. I have always been, and will always be, a Hello Kitty girl! Simple, bold, clean lines, vibrant colors, round shapes, adorable faces - I just LOVE surrounding my world with cute, happy images and spreading the joy of cuteness through my art. Some Asian artists that inspire me include Yoshitomo Nara and Murakami - both artists have managed to bridge the gap between commercial and fine art and have taken their art across all different kinds of mediums which I really admire.

Tarie: Happy Year of the Dragon, Joyce! Thank you so much for your time and for your commitment to cuteness!

I'll end this post with an image of Joyce's greeting card for the Year of the Dragon. :o)