Xuetong Wang is an illustrator and recent graduate from MFA Illustration Practice from Maryland Institute College of art in 2020. We first came across Tong's Instagram profile when looking for artists to collaborate with on first LKG graphic tee. Her comic style immediately stood out and we thought she was a perfect fit to feature as our first artist highlight.
Where did the comic book idea come from?
The beginning of the comic is from a strawberry. When I was thinking about the theme of my thesis project, I was eating strawberries. I found that the seeds of strawberry were embedded in it. It was like a nail being hammered in. I thought this idea was very interesting at that time, so I drew it down. After that I feel I want to make more and I started thinking of other stories similar to this one. I wasn’t really thinking about the theme and the deeper meaning of this project at the beginning, I found the meaning of absurdism at almost the end of this project. So this project is more like the trigger point to lead readers to think about life.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
I usually exercise and stretch my muscles after work to fully relax my body because sitting in front of the laptop and drawing for a long time makes my neck and shoulders stiff. And I will take a break and travel to somewhere every year once or twice to keep myself away from work.
What did you enjoy about working on this project?
When I got this project, I was very excited, because hemp is banned in many places, including where I am from, so I have never been exposed to this product before. It's a new experience for me. When I think about the story, I drink some alcohol to make myself feel as relaxed as possible. I usually keep my mind clear during work. I also want to make this story as interesting as possible, so I added some surrealistic ideas to make the whole comic give people a dream feeling, both heavy and light. This comic can be seen not only in order, but also as a whole image. It’s very interesting to see people look at nine squares at the same time. In this case, it’s not me to lead them through the whole panel and tell them the story, it's themselves to collect the information and get the story by themselves.
What is your background / when did you first start drawing?
I’m from china, like other kindergarten children, I used to doodle with crayons. Later I went to primary school, and was influenced by Japanese manga and cartoons. I remember I was so obsessed with the characters and the stories. Since then I started drawing a lot.
Explain the concept of “transformation” in your comic strip works
My comic is more like the key frame of an animation. Each grid has certain visual connections with adjacent grids. For example, the visual elements that appear in the previous grid will also appear in the next grid. Through the connection of these visual elements, one thing transforms to another. The concept of this project is to focus on the connection between different things, such as the yellow color and the curved shape of a banana and moon. Without beginning and ending, more like a clip of a video, a process of transformation.