YiYing Wang is the designer, author and mastermind behind the curious creatures and friendly little monsters from the land of Noodoll. It is actually impossible not to fall in love with them and her. Fact.
How does your working day begin? I like to get up early, take a few deep breaths, watch the news, eat breakfast while checking emails, then head off to the studio.
And what’s your studio like? Books, Paper and toys everywhere… It’s a lovely space with a high ceiling – bright and airy, but it can be really cold in the winter. Last winter we had to put up a big marquee inside the studio which looked ridiculous! But we felt like we were camping everyday, it was fun and cosy. I also have a supersize custom-made table with smiling face on it, the colour and shape just cheers me up.
When you were creating the World of Noodoll as part of your masters at Saint Martins, where did your inspiration come from? I grew up in Taiwan where we eat noodles and rice on the daily basis. For my MA show, I wanted to create a cartoon town where eastern and western culture mix and I needed a medium to link everything together. Somehow the flexibility of noodles came into my mind because it’s like a drawing line, you can form any shape… Or maybe I was just hungry and craving for noodles!
When did you feel like the characters were truly coming to life? The moment I design them they are alive, I would imagine what they say and how they behave, and start having conversations with them. (I’m not mad!)
And, how have they developed? I would feel strongly about certain characters in some days and draw more of them and give more backgrounds and stories to them, there’s no plan, it’s very spontaneous.
Do you have a favourite character, or one that you most identify with? It changes, someday I like this one and someday I like the other one. At the moment I’m fond of a new character called ‘Rice-dust’ who is a dust and always immerses himself in the feelings of love and merriment, he is also not afraid to express his feelings through long love letters.
You seem as comfortable in the world of design as you are with writing, which do you prefer? I love both! Design is always fun and I am lucky enough to initiate any designs and book projects – so living in a dream world I am to create anything I like – although turning it into a business does ruin a few nice feelings of this dream world I had! It seems more natural for me to design and I can get into the mood quite easily; but with writing, it doesn’t come naturally and I write slow, so it takes lots of practice and thoughts for me to write well. I find it difficult to concentrate, especially as I can’t help but check my emails non-stop! I managed to two of my books by locking myself in a B&B in the Devon countryside.
Have you always wanted to be a designer? I had no clue about design before I came to London, I didn’t know it could be a career! I used to draw on textbooks; that’s about all my art training. After I came to UK I went to Ravensbourne College to study communication design, my course leader John Laing was really encouraging and always made sure I felt happy at college. I enjoyed my play/study time at Ravensbourne so much that after that I took design seriously.
What can we expect from Noodoll in the future? More silly characters and fun novelty products! I’m also setting up a sub-brand ‘Noodoll’s friends’ and will cooperate with other talented character designers to create/publish more fun stationery ranges.
What do you love about living in London? I actually love the weather, haha! I love that there’re always things you can do and see – you can never feel bored with the diverse culture, food, markets, freedom of creativity and eccentric people. I did a book called Me In My Bag, featuring the contents of 100 people’s bags, and that was mind blowing to meet so many exciting people. I even met Michael Bond who wrote Paddington and I photographed the contents inside Paddington bear’s bag! I love all these experiences in London.
And when you’re not working, what do you do? I used to go to markets, galleries and in summer, parks and festivals. Nowadays I just want to rest my brain and be really lazy during weekend, I think running a business exhausts me big time!
What’s your home like? Same as my studio books, paper and toys everywhere!
Styling by Poppy Norton