Wenyi Geng was born in Japan, raised in China, resided in New York for art school, and has now, just recently, moved back to Japan. The dreamy and surreal illustrator first appeared in the Chillhop catalog with the compilation daydreams released last August. Now, with daydreams 2 set to release on August 21, it was only right that we asked her for a follow-up cover.
In between these two atmospheric and laid-back compilations (where our mascot sits with a cup of coffee and appreciates the day), Wenyi Geng has provided artwork for four EPs(featured below) as well as our 2018 Chillhop Yearmix. Art up in the clouds, surrounded by moons. Art inside a home, relaxed with a cat. Art floating over endless mangroves and making music in a glass castle.
We spoke with the globetrotting visionary for the newest addition to our art interview series, and Wenyi Geng discussed her passion projects, her creative spaces, the (un)importance of location, and more. Additionally, she offers up some guidance and advice for aspiring artists.
If your present self could talk to yourself five years ago, what are some tips you would give? What kind of advice?
5 years is such a long time but also it feels like just yesterday! Remember where I was and what I was doing back then, I never thought I’d be able to go this far, I didn’t even know what I was doing back then! I was trying everything and was trying to find my position. So…if I’m able to say something to me five years ago, I guess this is what I would say: just keep doing whatever you are doing and don’t forget where you came from, where your heart belongs and…it is okay to be not okay. Everything comes and goes, life is hard in a normal way but don’t forget to do what you are supposed to do. Be patient, things will happen.
You’ve created a handful of covers and artwork for Chillhop and they are all so beautiful. Did you listen to these projects as you brainstormed?
Of course, I do! I really like Chillhop’s playlists. They’ve helped me a lot when I need to concentrate on my work. The playlists are really diverse but also have the same vibe that makes me feel relaxed and comfortable. Sometimes I really don’t want to listen to something that has lyrics because it bothers my thoughts a lot, makes me hard to focus on what I’m doing. So Chillhop’s music would be one of the best choices for me.
Do you often need music when you illustrate, or do you work better in silence?
With music, absolutely. I need something (sounds) to help me shut down the outside world, plus it’s really hard to find a silent place nowadays [laughs], I do have a working space but it is really hard to not pay attention to all the surrounding noises, that’s where music helped me a lot.
How do you mix your time between creating art and marketing yourself? Do you find one more difficult than the other?
This is a very interesting question, and I think I’m doing a very bad job at marketing myself, the only thing I’m doing to promote myself now is to post whatever things I’ve done online, such as Instagram and Behance and to my website, but this is it, maybe I should do something else to promote myself [laughs]. It is true that it’s really hard to keep the balance between making the artwork and marketing myself, and I guess I have yet to find the best way to do both at the same time. For the second question, I’m not really sure which one is more difficult because for me they are both very difficult! But in a very different way, it’s like the difference between learning Math and Literature, and of course, you can not say one is harder than the other.
Your work is often surreal and dreamy. Have you had any recent dreams worth sharing?
Emmm, I barely have dreams when I’m asleep, or maybe I just don’t remember them when I wake up…
Outside of commission work, are you working on any passion projects or books?
I am really planning on starting something new but it’s really hard to figure out the schedule right now. As you know, I have just moved to Japan from New York about a month ago. I guess I will have more time this summer to think about it, but I will start a new project in the near future for sure.
Is it difficult to find time for yourself while also working for others?
It’s really really hard to balance between work and life, but I guess I can’t be too greedy on everything. I still remember the feeling when I got my first illustration job, I was so excited and still, I’m really thankful for all the people that are willing to work with me, I can not complain because I’m busy about work.
If you can, please describe your workspace. What are some essentials while you illustrate?
Coffee or tea and, of course, some music. I do have a specific set up for my working space, 2 desks–one for my computer and tablet, etc, the other one as a drawing table. It takes up a lot of space! But this is the most important part of my life so it doesn’t bother me so much.
After a few years in New York, you have now moved to Japan. What do you have lined with your move?
Yes, I’ve just moved to Japan, to start a new job here actually, but it’s not really like a full-time job so I still have a lot of time for my own stuff. I’m thinking about making some new project but I still need some time to settle down, especially for my brain, you know moving to another country is not so easy, and it is really tiring, I need some time for my brain/heart to feel calm and clear again, in order to think about what should I do for my next step.
How important is place in regards to your own creativity?
I was also worried about this. I was really afraid that if I leave New York, I will lose all of the ideas that I have in my mind, but the truth is I am still who I am, and no matter where I go, my brain and my hands are still here with me. I won’t lose my creativity just because I moved to another place.
Do you have any further advice or wisdom for artists working on their craft?
Just keep working, keep thinking, and working as hard as you can and you will never regret it. But don’t destroy your health!