Back Issue__ Andrea Wan: Start to Finish
Andrea Wan, Self-portrait
Observing people on the bus, admiring ugly store signs, or looking down alleyways—these are the things Vancouver-based artist Andrea Wan spends her time doing. That, and eating Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, and of course drawing, her medium of choice.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, BC, where she still resides, Andrea misses Europe, where she studied last year. After graduating from Emily Carr University of Art and Design with a Bachelor in Film, Video and Integrated Media, Andrea continued her studies at Designskolen Kolding in Denmark, taking illustration and design courses. Andrea uses a lot of humans, animals, cityscapes and muted colors in her work—achieved through watercolors, pencils and ink. A lot of her drawings have a subtext that she doesn’t usually plan out in advance, like her X illustration featured on our new cover, which shows two hands knitting people together. Andrea’s drawings have appeared in magazines like Nylon, on t-shirts and as tea light holders.
Through her education, Andrea has learned to see projects through from beginning to end. We’re sure this emerging artist will see her career through the same way. And whenever Andrea starts drawing an illustration, she always finishes, literally “drawing” loose ends together.
Andrea Wan, The Hunter
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have a studio space in an artist-run center in Chinatown, where I work most of the time. These days, I've been pushing myself to draw for at least 8 hours per day, so I don't end up wasting my time staring at my laptop. The rest of the time is usually spent on coffee and Pho with my studio-mates.
What inspires you about the city you live in?
I love to explore Vancouver and look for fun places to hang out. I like observing strangers on public transit. I pay attention to alleyways, badly designed store signs, posters and found objects in alleyways—anything random with a story attached.
Do you think you use the skills you learned at school in your work today?
I think one of the most important skills I learned from school was working independently, managing self-directed projects from beginning to end, and that totally applies to what I'm doing right now.
How has formal training helped shape your style?
What tools do you use?
A combination of ink, gouche, watercolor, pencil, or Photoshop.
Do you remember drawing as a kid?
I remember one of my first drawings was a big horse with four baby horses running underneath its belly. I also remember doing a series of Waldo-inspired drawings with lots of things happening at the same moment. It was a lot of fun.
Scans of Andrea Wan's sketchbook
A lot of your drawings have an underlining text. Is this something you plan out before?
I am pretty spontaneous when I draw. Most of my personal drawings are like short visual poems—a collage of whimsical but personal images that conveys my feeling at that specific moment. Once I come up with an idea, I immediately draw it down, sometimes without a sketch, and finish the drawing at once.
Besides being given the assignment, how does your process differ when you work for more commercial clients like Nylon, than when you’re creating for yourself?
When I'm illustrating for a client, I often come up with a list of key words associated with the main idea, and then I think of images that represent those words. I'd show the client a couple of sketches before deciding on one for the final illustration.
Andrea Wan's Studio
Do you like being in shows?
I consider myself a baby in the art world. When I was a student, I was never ready to show my work in public. I'm actually having my first ever group show this month and I'm pretty stoked about it!
Who are some of your favorite up and coming artists?
There are way too many—but I'm a big fan of Brecht Evens and Micah Lidberg.
Do you create in other mediums besides drawing?
I had experimented with different mediums such as film, animation, painting and collage while I was in school. Two years ago, I wrote and directed an animated short as my grad project. I want do more of those when I have time.
Andrea Wan, Fairytales
You recently joined Twitter, why?
I joined Twitter out of curiosity and realized it is a good tool for self-promotion and keeping up with the latest happenings.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Radiohead, Beach House, The Beatles—I can go on forever.
Andrea Wan, Portraits
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
What can we expect coming up from you?
I'm working on some new illustrations at the moment. One thing I really want to do this year is to collaborate with others on fun projects. We'll see how it goes.
Where’s your heart at?
My heart is at Europe after traveling and studying there last year. I can't wait to go back to visit all my friends or to stay for a longer period of time, if possible.