Interview with Illustrator Bonnie Pang (Little Dumplings)

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What made you want to be an illustrator?
I have loved drawing since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I’d doodle on restaurant napkins and make my own comics stories. My mother used to borrow children’s books with beautiful illustrations from the library for me to read, and I guess it kinda influenced me. As I grew up I enjoyed telling stories with drawings, so being an illustrator is a really nice fit.

How did you get started?
I studied Geography in university, but I love drawing so much that I decided to enroll in art school after graduating. I chose to major in fine art and illustration, and began taking small jobs and commissions here and there. During my final year, I was very lucky to be signed by an artist agency and started illustrating children’s books–that’s also how I got to work on this book!

What is your advice for a beginner artist?
Keep drawing and keep looking at art. I think learning the drawing fundamentals is very helpful if you want to be an illustrator. You don’t have to go to art school–there are plenty of online tutorials and courses to help artists hone their skill. Also look at more art! Read children’s books, browse art online and expand your horizons. This will help to inspire and motivate you on your art journey.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up (artists, movies, cartoons, comics)?
Since I was a kid, I always loved to watch or read anything about cartoons and animals. I grew up with shows such as Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones. My biggest influence was probably the 2002 Dreamwork animation feature ‘Spirit’, where I fell into an obsession with horses and was inspired to work in animation studios. I’d fill sketchbooks with horse drawings and my classmates would ask to have one as a gift. I still love horses to this day!

What’s your favorite thing to draw? / What is your favorite drawing or painting in your portfolio and why?
I love drawing animals. I’m happy to illustrate any book featuring animals (except maybe not insects). For my favourite drawing, I really like several pieces from my ‘Green Chef’ series, such as the fox delivering newspapers and the geese flying through the city. These were from my art school thesis project where I created a city influenced by San Francisco and Hong Kong. There was a lot of effort in creating the artwork and I really liked the outcome. It made me want to live inside the drawing.

What’s your favorite medium that you work in (Illustrator, InDesign, pencil and paper)?
I use Procreate on iPad and love it a lot! For sketches and doodles, I love the plain old pencil and paper.

What was it like illustrating Little Dumplings? What is your favorite page?
I seldom illustrate food, so illustrating Little Dumplings was new and exciting. I love learning about all kinds of dumplings and had great fun drawing them too. My favourite page is the Italian dumplings jumping into their own sauce. I think that’s super funny. I also love the end papers with all the dumplings and ingredients placed into a pattern.

I haven’t tried all the dumplings in the book yet, so I can’t say. But I love the Shanghai soup dumpling (小籠包 in Chinese).

Find delicious dumpling recipes here: Gnocchi RecipeMantoo RecipeGyoza Recipe

Little Dumplings Written By Susan Rich Brooke and Illustrated by Bonnie Pang.

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