Xuetong, or short Tong, graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art just this year. Her illustrations are perfectly composed, loaded with personality and texture and always aiming directly at the recipient’s heart.
For her gestural pencil drawing „dog walker“ she won the first price in the young artist category of the Derwent Art Price 2020 and her editorial piece „Diligence“ was selected for the American Illustration Annual Award.
With her impressive body of work and her distinct style, she is now on her mission to worldwide reputation and success, but she also found time to answer four quick questions:
Although your style is very distinct, it shows a big variety of shapes, from (award winning) loose pencil sketches to meticulously composed digital work. In which situations does analog illustration still have it’s key advantage?
I think digital work has less restrictions because usually clients require several times of revising so it’s easier to revise the color or the composition digitally. And it’s easy to apply on different surfaces of different products. While I think the unique texture and the vivid hand drawn feeling can’t be replaced by computers. Traditional media feels free, unique and has a certain spirit in it.
Daily thousands of young people are considering to go into illustration for a living, battling their insecurities, searching for their style, fearing an unstable future. Do you have any advice for those who are struggling to do their first big steps?
I think definitely keep posting something, put yourself out in the market and let people see you. I know a lot of people who are afraid of posting their works because they don’t have enough confidence in their works, this is not helpful, be confident and let people know. And I recommend trying different things, like different media, different topics and you will find what you really like and find your own style. The most important thing is you need to put passion in it because freelance is really hard, you need to pay the insurance the bill, talk to customers, deal with the contract and tax things, be a freelancer need to do all the things by myself , so we need to really like what we are doing and put passion in it. People can see those passions from your work.
You recently graduated at the Maryland Institute College of Art with an impressive body of work in your portfolio, from editorial, packaging and fashion to corporate illustration (and more!). Any plans already where your life will take you next?
I have been doing freelance jobs from China, I am doing a picture book and several packaging now and I was planning to move to NewYork for more jobs in the U.S. While because of the CoronaVirus, I decided to stay in Baltimore for a while. I plan to reach out some illustration agencies to represent my works so I can start my freelance jobs here
A lot of your work on your instagram account revolves around food. Are you very enthusiastic when it comes to the edible, or is it just very handy, that it sits still?
It’s hard for me to decide which topic I should draw because there are so many. So I give myself some restrictions that this year’s topic is food and also I am graduating this year, my thesis topic is food related and I chose an elective class called illustrating the edible. I am also a food lover.
You can find more of Tong’s work