Jingxin Fang defies imitation with her one-of-a-kind illustrations

London-based illustrator Jingxin Fang stays true to herself and refuses to follow the herd in her beautifully detailed illustrations, documenting the world around her and the wonderful people who inhabit it.

Specialising in "colourful textures and cute things," the work of Chinese illustrator Jingxin Fang has appeared in several picture books, scooped the 2022 iJungle Illustration Merit award and been shortlisted for the 2021 Communications Arts awards. And once you've looked at it, you'll see why.

Jingxin's illustrations are a mixed-media marvel created with pencils, watercolours and toner. Depicting everything from butterflies to buildings to beautiful breakfast tables, her artwork always finds a novel spin on its subject matter. This could be a line of people in a fancy dress waiting to get their Covid vaccines or sketchbook drawings of nearby people who bring their personalities to life through delicate line work.

Originally from the Chinese city of Jinan, Jingxin is a graduate of children's book illustration at Goldsmiths, University Of London. She currently lives in the city and works as a freelance illustrator who specialises in creating colourful illustrations incorporating collages and relaxed, free brush strokes.

"I also like to draw people and observe human beings," she tells Creative Boom. "So I drew a lot of sketches of passers-by. Sometimes I go to galleries to draw random people; sometimes, I go to cafes to draw people sitting around.

"During my undergraduate studies, I majored in picture books, so I focused on children's illustrations for the entirety of my art education. I have illustrated several published books and published some more picture books in China."

Yet despite her early success, Jingxin has never wanted to limit her career to children's illustration. "I want to do some product packaging and editorial illustration as well," she reveals. "This shift initially troubled me because it seemed my previous drawing style was unsuitable for these projects."

This doubt led to Jingxin trying to imitate popular editorial styles and practice digital painting. "I was forcing myself to draw something I didn't like," she realises. "However, I understood that no matter what type of illustration I was doing, I should hold onto my passion and at least have fun with it.

"With continuous practice, I gradually mastered how to use my own unique method to draw illustrations for audiences that are not only children."

A prime example of Jingxin's evolved style is the series of editorial illustrations she drew about the Shanghai lockdown. "Between March and June of 2022, Shanghai residents experienced a prolonged lockdown where people were not even allowed to leave their homes," she points out.

"The only chance they had to go outside was to get a Covid test, so people dressed up in costumes just to stand in line and pick them up. I tried to use a positive perspective to record this historic and tragic moment."


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly