When we at Zeum asked fashion illustrator Yiunam Leung to describe his works to us, using only three words, he replied: “raw, organic and expressive”, and we couldn’t agree more! The beauty, and stirring and spontaneous quality about his pieces is as plain as day, as is his obvious love of both art and fashion. So far his immense creativity has led him to both produce his own art, and start his own business [called Rings and Tings]! And we cannot wait to see what he will do next!
Tell us a little bit about yourself Yiunam! Where are you from, how old are you, and how did you get started as a fashion illustrator?
I was born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, my passion has always been art but I also discovered the beauty of fashion through my tutor Sunny Todd who greatly influenced me whilst studying the foundations of art.
Please tell us about Rings & Tings!
Rings & Tings is an online fashion store founded by myself and my partner, Joys Cheung, whilst we were still in London studying design back in 2011. Every Sunday morning we would go to Brick Lane and set up a stall with our small collection of carefully sourced jewelry – today we stock over 3000 products with worldwide client base – selling over 60,000 items a year.
In crafting your portraits do you work with models, based on photographs, or from your imagination?
It depends on the project that I am working on. Whilst working with Vauxhall Fashion Scout, a lot of the times I would be at the fashion shows live sketching the models and also illustrating based on photographs to recapture the small details of the designs.
We’ve noticed that you work most predominantly in black and white watercolor. Can you tell us a bit about what attracts you to this artistic medium in particular?
I love the boldness of black and white it gives that sense of rawness that I try to achieve through my illustrations – though sometimes I do like a splash of color!
Can you tell us any songs, stories, or films etc. that you feel have had a significant impact upon the creation of any of your pieces?
I tend to get more inspired by methodologies and techniques [e.x. Chinese painting] and I try to apply similar and reminiscent qualities to my work. I am really just always trying to evolve as an artist.
Who are your personal fashion icons/ favorite designers?
I always tend to think a Fashion Icon is just a person who has has marketed themselves well to the public, I feel that good design is now more common than maybe 50-60 years ago – due to the vast knowledge, resources and inspiration from the internet and also advances within society. However, I do think that Aitor Throup is an amazing designer though – as is Alexander McQueen.
Please list some artists [of any artistic medium] that you admire.
Aitor Throup, Ogushi, Edgeworth Johnstone, Antony Micallef.
What does your work mean to you and what do you hope that it will mean to your fans?
My work is a creative journal of what I have learned as well as my influences. I always hope that that people who see my work also possess a similar passion to be creative.
What might you say has been the highlight of your illustration career so far?
Working as an in-house fashion illustrator for Vauxhall Fashion Scout was so much fun but I would say my Christmas fashion illustration collaboration with Urban Retreat, who’s Flagship store is on the 6th floor of Harrods, has been one of my favorites.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?
Right now my focus has been on Rings & Tings, maybe in the future we will start expanding our own collection.