Surreal, and yet yummy! Rising Sweden-based illustrator and spatial designer, Anny Wang, explains the process behind her contribution to the latest issue St-W #104 and her curious depiction of the digital landscape, based on her interests in the fields of science and education. Recently after graduating Design School at HDK, School of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg, Sweden, Wang's vibrant and playful work has been recognised via social media platforms, allowing her to begin building her profession as a freelancer.
What is your process behind your illustrations? Do you start first with a sketch and render it into 3D, or does your inspiration come from your spatial designs?
Anny Wang: When beginning a project, the process depends on the client or if it's an initiated project, of course. Most of the time I actually go straight to the 3D software and basically start making shapes to build up the scene. Sketching with 3D software really works for me and it allows me to work in both a controlled and experimental way.
How did your style develop?
Since I mainly studied interior architecture and design, my influences often come from architecture and architectural details. I have always been fascinated by distorted and imperfect things. It's hard to specify how my style developed; I guess I like to mix things, from eras to materials.
Name an artist or designer that has influenced you and your work.
It is so hard to only choose one! The light artist, James Turrell, has been an inspiration for me for a long time. He creates remarkable spatial experiences and at the same time always presents strong graphics. I love the simplicity, vibrant colours and the importance he puts on light.
In your illustrations for St-W #104's St-W Lab special on Digital Retail, you draw digital icons that we usually see when shopping online, and transform them into objects (for example, the shopping cart and the mouse cursor). Are you trying to add another layer to these objects?
I wanted to extract the icons from how we usually see them in the e-commerce environment and literally show them in a different view by highlighting them and symbolising what they stand for. We spend most of our time surfing through online shops and we hardly even think about the computer mouse. The easy action of clicking equals buying.
Do the chunky items in the shopping cart, such as marble cubes and cylinders, represent unimportant objects that consumers feel they need? What is your personal take on digital retail?
Yes, you could say that. My thoughts behind them were to show that we buy a lot of things that we don't necessarily need and how easy it is to fill a digital shopping cart.
Do you feel your elements need to acquire a balance between physical and digital?
3D software allows a very broad spectrum of expressions; they could either be super surreal or touch a photorealistic level. As in any craftsmanship, the tools you create with will always leave a certain expression towards the result. Everything is digital with a 3D render and my illustrations tend to stay in the borderline of a real and surreal look. I think it's easier to approach the viewer if the person could relate to the image with references from the real world.
How would you compare your illustrations to virtual reality?
The expression 'virtual reality' for me is a simulation of a physical presence in the real world – something that the user can 'step into' and could even, feel, touch and hear. I connect with the field of science and education. Of course my illustrations are a virtual reality. It might not be from the real world but I would love to physically visit it.
Images Anny Wang
Find Anny Wang's illustrated perspective of the online shopping world inside the latest issue St-W #104's St-W Lab dedicated to Digital Retail. Follow Anny Wang on and to see more of her imaginative illustrations.