2012 New Visual Artist: Jing Wei

By Bronson Stamp

Beer label for Lumpen and Half Acre Brewery, 2011.

There’s a photograph of Jing Wei in which she’s standing up to her neck in nachos. “I woke up one morning, and there was an enormous pile of nachos in the middle of our living room,” she says. “It was like waking up to a dream!” You won’t find many nachos in her illustrations, woodcut prints, and dioramas, but there is a dreamlike quality to them—and a sense, whether they’re appearing on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times or the window of a comic-book shop, that they’re part of the same dream.

Age: 25
Illustrator
From: Beijing/San Jose, California
Lives in: Brooklyn, New York
Website: http://jingweistudio.com/

That isn’t to say Wei’s work errs on the side of id. “Mostly, I enjoy the printmaking process because it forces me to make decisions and edit,” she says. In her prints, tightly controlled geometry and  insidiously stark images balance the warm wash of color that often suffuses them. “Jing’s work is funny, sad, scary and always very smart,” says Josh Cochran, who first met her when he gave a talk to her illustration class while she was a student at RISD. “Her woodcuts are very obsessive and have a level of sophistication that make her stand out among her peers. I’m still totally blown away as to how she is able to hand-carve a drawing of tiny slices of cake the size of my fingernail, or miniscule sprinkles on a cake donut!”

Alphabet Forest, woodcut print for Gallery Nucleus’s “Illustrated Type” show, 2011

Illustration for HHMI Bulletin, 2011

Wei gets her energy from unusual sources. She left China for America on her seventh birthday, and when she first came to New York in the summer of 2008, she taught Mandarin to babies part-time. “It really exercises a different part of my brain and personality, which I love,” she says. “It’s also a great way for me to loosen up, run around, and do totally embarrassing things. Babies don’t judge!”

llustration for Plansponsor, 2011.

She now has another spur: working out of the creative hothouse of Brooklyn’s design dorm, the Pencil Factory. “There is a great energy that fills this place,” she says. “Brooklyn is a mix of ambition and masochism, and it is perfect for me.”

Illustration for Ecomagination/Frog Design, 2011

We Have to Keep Going, diorama for Arts in Bushwick, 2011

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