Rachel Wada is a Japanese-Chinese illustrator from Vancouver, BC. She currently splits her time between freelance work and as the Art Director at the Capilano Courier. For the past couple years, she has worked on a variety of illustration projects from editorial pieces for newspapers and magazines, public art installations to private commissions. She has a soft spot for texture, which is apparent in her illustrative work. Her current obsession is with silkscreen printing; a medium that she would love to keep experimenting with in the future.
Wada is one of the participating artists for the ON/OFF Grid art exhibition (April 6 - June 3) at the Gene Siskel Film Center in conjunction with the FAAIM 23rd Annual Asian American Showcase which runs April 6 through April 18th, 2018. We asked her a few questions about her work and artistic practice!
1. Does your identity or personal story inform your work? Who/what inspires you?
Yes, I believe that my identity strongly informs who I am and the work I create. I’ve gotten comments in the past about how my work looks ‘Asian’ or ‘Asian Inspired’. Though it is not always deliberate, my Japanese-Cantonese heritage is a strong part of who I am, so it comes as no surprise when people see that in my work. Having immigrated to Canada at a young age, I went through a phase of wanting to reconnect back to my roots. This led me to be inspired by artwork from both my Japanese and Chinese roots; from ukiyo-e paintings, ornate Chinese pottery, classical scroll painting, Buddhist sculptures, and so forth. I really started to develop my artistic voice through this process, translating and reiterating what inspires me into my own personal visual language.
2. How has technology affected your creative process? Does this affect how you view or choose to interact with the world?
Technology has a huge impact on my creative process and my interaction with the world. Technology for me provides convenience, and efficiency. My Apple computer, Adobe Creative Suite, Wacom Tablet, and scanner and have now become quintessential to the way I work. Over time, I have developed an illustrative style and working process where traditional and digital mediums go hand in hand. Interaction with clients and art directors have almost strictly been digitally, whether it be via e-mails, DM’s or Skype. It’s wonderful how we’re able to interact and collaborate with creatives around the world, it is truly a blessing.
3. How do you think digital formats impact your field and your audience?
I honestly have the internet and social media to thank for where my artistic career has taken me. This digital platform allows up and coming illustrators like myself to showcase their creations to a wide online audience. The success of social media apps like Instagram and its very nature has definitely made everyone more savvy and conscience of their online persona. I think it’s natural to question the amounts of likes on a post, but this shouldn’t define it in terms of taste or validation. It’s becoming almost commonplace to commodify these numbers as definite, when an element of it can be arbitrary. ‘Greatest amount of likes’ doesn’t always mean greatest piece of work. I always like to keep in mind how important that is, as both a viewer and a content creator, to not let the ‘likes’ and numbers get to my head. But I definitely have the underlying hope that my presence online will cross oceans to potential exciting new clients and friends.
4. What do you think about AI?
It’s scary, but cool. I think technology is always redefining art in strange, new ways. The emergence of new technology has been providing artists with new ways to express themselves for a very long time. So perhaps AI technology is a new possibility for new and innovative works of art.
5. What are you working on right now?
I am currently finalizing negotiations for a picture book deal with a local Vancouver publication. This is going to be my first picture book illustration gig so I am beyond stoked!