We spoke to the extremely talented illustrator Shan Jiang to find out more about his background and creative process, and to get the lowdown on his new LKP project The Shadow World – the latest in our intriguing series of myrioramas.
Tell us a bit about your background, where do you call ‘home’?
I was born in Shanghai and have been living in the UK for 15 years. “Home” is where I and my family lives. So I consider that London is my home.
Did you parents put your drawings on the fridge or in the bin?
The problem was I did too many drawings, so it was a bit difficult to display them. Neither on the fridge nor in the bin… but more likely they ended up in some drawers.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
I'm inspired by Chinese Meticulous Art, Ukiyo-e, Bauhaus, Durer, Jean Giraud, Eduardo Paolozzi and Shinbo Akiyuki.
But the biggest influence is from literature. The novels by Italo Calvino and Haruki Murakami are my major influences.
Did you know much about myrioramas before you started work on The Shadow World?
I didn’t know the game before then. I was given the idea when we had the first meeting with Laurence King and saw some samples. I loved putting the new idea into this traditional game.
What were your key visual references?
I didn’t find a specific visual reference for The Shadow World. I got the visual idea from all the steampunk and cyberpunk stories, movies and comics that I have seen before and drew them from memory.
What was the most challenging part of the project?
Making the story. Working out what's going to happen on the next page.
When did you first start drawing?
I think first started drawing proper stuff from about 10 or 11 years old.
When did you get your first commission?
I guess it came from one of my mother’s friends when I was 16 years old. I was asked to design an image for a paper bag for a conference.
When and where were you at your happiest?
Anywhere with my family.
What’s your studio like? Do you work alone?
I work at both home and in an office. I work with my wife in the same studio. We run a scarf label called Pig, Chicken & Cow together. The studio is in a converted chocolate factory with a huge window which we cannot afford to put blinds on.
Is your desk tidy? Are there biscuits?
My studio desk is quite tidy. My workspace at home is not. No biscuits but crisps.
What’s on the walls? And what do you listen to while you work?
A clock, three skateboards I designed for Lockwood. Four small frames with my wife’s work and the name of the label on the studio’s wall.
I listen to 80s Japanese pop music and a lo-fi Jazz Hip Hop mix.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
I can create something from whatever is in my head.
How do you stay inspired and keep things fresh?
Reading and keeping looking around.
Can illustration change the world?
Yes, I think so.
The drawings for The Shadow World are very intricate...Do you start with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen?
Yes, I started with a blank screen. I did rough sketches on my Wacom tablet.
Do you finish one drawing and then go on to the next, or have several on the go at once? Was it difficult to make them all match up?
I did a really good plan and had roughly sketched out all the details before starting the final design.
Describe your illustration style in three words...
Story-telling, Intricate, Perspective.
Thanks for answering so many questions!
The Shadow World is out now - grab your copy with a special 35% discount before 20th August 2018 using the code SHADOW35 at checkout.
See more of Shan's amazing work here.