What if bacteria celebrated Christmas? Illustrator Wenjing Yang investigates
Like many creatives, illustrator Wenjing Yang draws heavily from her adjacent mediums. From graphic design to photography to fashion design, she tells us how, as an art school student, she “likes to immerse herself in all forms of visual art”. But, perhaps his greatest inspiration comes from the written word, especially speculative fiction.
Speculative fiction is a genre that explores otherworldly fantasy concepts while maintaining a level of “rationality” throughout the plot. Or, as Wenjing describes it, “the author always starts with a small change and imagines how the world is going to be turned upside down.” It is this way of thinking (or telling) that most inspires the work of the illustrator, which has resulted in a Christmas-themed universe built from a little “what if”. In his latest project, Wenjing imagined “what it would be like if bacteria and viruses also celebrated the holiday.” Christmas dinner, for example, sees Wenjing create a truly toxic tabletop scene, complete with jelly and bacteria-infested mushrooms – his luminescent style lending itself perfectly to the scene. And in the mind Christmas menu, a rib cage forms the backbone of a menu, with various parts of the anatomy listed as edible substances. “I like visual stories that have an eerie, eerie feel,” Wenjing sums up, “where something in the story is counterintuitive and makes the audience feel a little uneasy.”
As mentioned earlier, it’s Wenjing’s brilliant use of color that really highlights and accentuates themes and sentiments throughout her work. Interestingly, this aptitude for color emerged when Wenjing was experimenting with oil painting in his second year of college. “I was obsessed with painting dramatic lighting at the time, and the primary colors of light red, green, and blue still dominate my illustrations,” says Wenjing. “I also like to use complementary colors to create visual conflict; I’m not sure exactly why, but I just feel satisfied placing complementary colors next to each other.