Chinese illustrator Xinyue Song only graduated in 2018, yet she has already landed illustration work for the likes of Converse, CVS and Adidas. So besides the obvious quality of her work, what's the secret to Xinyue's success? She credits social media.
A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, Xinyue splits her time between the Big Apple and Beijing. After completing a Bachelor's degree in graphic design and a Master's degree in Computer Arts from the hallowed institution, she started her career as a freelance illustrator. This was back in 2018, and things have only snowballed since then.
"In 2020, I gradually became interested in illustration and tried to put my work on Instagram," she tells Creative Boom. "At first, it was just some screenshots from my animation, and then I started to try to draw some simple illustrations that continued my animation style.
"To my surprise, I received many positive comments. And I have grown to love this way of recording my thoughts and life through drawing at the same time, which also made me decide to become a commercial illustrator."
Xinyue's Instagram account has now racked up over 4,000 followers, and it's easy to see why people are drawn to her work. Bright, distinctive and humorous, they clearly bring all of her studies to bear while packing subtle depths of composition and character that reward repeated viewings.
The strength of this work and the reach she has acquired with social media have led to Xinyue working with big brand names. "After becoming an illustrator, I got a couple of great jobs from clients including Converse and CVS," she reveals.
"I still remember how excited I was when I got a job late last year to draw athletes for the Winter Olympics for Adidas. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your work being published."
When she's not working with clients, Xinyue likes to keep busy by creating personal work. "Most of my art tries to share moments of my life, while some of it conveys my thoughts and opinions," Xinyue adds. "One of my clients once told me that she thought my work looked happy but had some irony. I think that's what I'm trying to show through my work."
A brilliant example of this tone is her recently completed illustration series, Escape. This project was inspired by packaged food in a grocery store, and the identical containers reminded Xinyue of the current state of her life.
"Over the past three years, my lifestyle has been forced to change a lot, with strict restrictions that make every day seem the same," she says. "I wanted to escape this life pattern and eliminate the confusion and frustration growing with each passing day."