'Why it's good to be alone': Hong Kong artist B.Wing on her inspiration and work

Artist known for her etiquette trailers for Broadway Cinemas reflects on a lonely childhood and says we need our sad moments because without them we wouldn't know how happiness feels

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 6:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 6:00am

How did this second collaboration with Broadway come about?

B. Wing: It began about six months ago, when my friend and I were discussing poor behaviour at the cinemas. I’m really fed up with people chatting during the film, which ruins the experience. So I started thinking maybe we should do another video. The next day I drew A holding a guitar, and that led to the creation of a band that sing songs about proper cinema etiquette.  

What’s special about this new trailer?

The first one had A cycling alone in a dreamland, but this time he has a lot of friends – nine of them, in fact. I want the video to be catchy to sow a seed in children’s minds.

 Holding hands is the most romantic thing you can do with someone. That’s how you can feel a person’s heart.

Why did you think it was time to give A some friends?

A is a very independent boy, but he hasn't loved himself until now [that he has more friends in his world]. As a creator, that is the only thing I can do for him. There should be more stories, other stories, in his life for him to explore. Each fictional character should have  his or her own destiny.

So we’ll see A’s friends a lot more after this trailer?

Yes, I’m working on their story and looking to turn it into a piece of animation. I have to figure out descriptions of the characters, their ages and their star signs. Because you have to establish their back stories first. Without them, their story doesn’t alive. In Hong Kong or China, it’s rare for Chinese to create animations like this. We want to  change that.

When and why did you start drawing?

I started drawing at three years old. My brothers are older than me, so when they would be out playing soccer, I’d be stuck at home with nothing to do. So I began drawing. I was a very, very lonely kid. I even played basketball by myself. I wanted to make friends but I didn’t know how. All my classmates thought I was weird. But now, when I look back, I treasure all these experiences, because they have led to what I’m doing now.

Your drawings remind me of Sadness' message from Pixar’s movie Inside Out.  

It’s good to be alone. It’s good to be sad. Because without them you wouldn’t know how happiness feels.  I remember a saying: “Every time we are apart means there’s a chance for us to say hi again.” Life should be both positive and negative. People nowadays like to concentrate on being positive – like “you can do everything” and “you can be anything you want”. I think that’s not true. I think you must put in plenty of effort to be what you want to be, and during that long period of trying there will be sadness and failure. If you only want to concentrate on being positive, then you won’t be ready to handle reality.

When did you start realising people resonated with your art?

Only these past few years. Because when people used to say they loved my drawings, I didn’t believe them because I figured my drawings were just my own feelings. I didn’t even think my art was professional – I thought it was like some kid’s drawings.  

What was the most memorable feedback your fans have given you?

I got an email from a Scottish man who had got my book as a gift from his girlfriend. He said the book made him smile for the first time in a long time, because he suffers from depression. I treasure that email.

The happiest moment for me is to sit down and put everything in colour. An illustrator’s job is like making love with colours. 

Do you feel naked exposing your inner thoughts on the page?

A is me. It comes from the bottom of my heart. But no, I don’t feel exposed at all. I always believe I was meant to be a creator. So exposing my soul and letting people look into it is just part of the job. The happiest moment for me is to sit down and put everything in colour. An illustrator’s job is like making love with colours. I can create a world by just touching the paper with colour, it’s the happiest moment for me.  

What material is your favourite to illustrate with?

I use pencils, acrylics, pastels but not digital pens as I’m old school. I like pastels in particular. Pastels are like crayons, which all children use. Pastels can be smeared and you never know how it’ll appear on the paper.

Do you use your merchandise?

No. It’s like asking me why I don’t hang my own drawings in my house. Oh no, please. Some people really like to look in the mirror at themselves, but not me. I don’t like looking at myself. I feel shy looking into the mirror. I’m that kind of person. So why would I hang my own products? No.

What would you say or do to A if he ever came to life?

I  would hold his hand and not say a word. Holding hands is the most romantic thing you can do with someone. That’s how you can feel a person’s heart.