Meet Our Courage Illustrator: Annie Wong
It has been a tradition at CreativeMornings to work with an artist in our community to create an illustration for the monthly theme.
The global theme for March is Courage.
While the artwork speaks for itself, we wanted to get to know the artist on a personal level and introduce them to the creative community. We’re delighted to introduce you to…
Meet Annie Wong
Annie Wong, a.k.a. Headexplodie, hand-crafts short form videos, GIFs, and stop motion content for the digital world. Her work vacillates between charmingly cute and unashamedly crude. With silliness as the guiding principle in her art practice, she is usually not satisfied until what she has made is as ridiculous and memorable as it can be.
How did you get into illustration work?
I’ve always loved doing creative work since I was a child. I just kept at it for a long time and awkwardly fumbled through different ways to be paid for it over the years. I began to really home in on my practice during my time as Director of Art & Restoration at Children’s Fairyland, a storybook theme park for kids. It was a lot of fun to build and paint fairy tales around the park, work on branding, and illustrate for their puppet theater.
At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?
Probably when I flunked Graphic Design 1 in undergrad. I kept trying to sneak illustration into my projects and found myself really struggling to stay engaged in the curriculum. My heart just wasn’t in it. I eventually shifted gears and studied painting, photography, and other things…
How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?
Watching Bob Ross on PBS as a kid inspired me to paint, early 90’s MTV and Nickelodeon inspired a love of comics and cartoons, being exposed to zines in high school led to my interest in graphic design and photography, working in a puppet theater was a gateway to studying film. All of this has led to the mixed media work that I do now.
What advice would you give to fellow illustrators?
Don’t forget to have fun with your work. Absolutely work hard and push yourself but, at the end of the day, ask yourself if you have found a way to have fun with it. My favorite projects are ones where I step back and just crack up at what’s been made.
Describe a recent event where you had to be courageous. What were you afraid of? How did you overcome it?
Leaving my day job to pursue full-time freelance was terrifying but I felt in my heart that it was something I needed to do in order to have control over my time and work on the projects I wanted to. Since I haven’t shaken off imposter syndrome yet (does it ever go away?), I get a twinge of fear every time I receive an opportunity (including this one!). Imposter syndrome tells me I’m going to disappoint the client or blow the job. I have to tell myself, “do it. Do it anyway. The client didn’t make a mistake, they deliberately reached out to you so just do your thing!” I’ve learned from experience that the fear always subsides after putting in the work and to trusting in the process.
What role does courage play in your art?
There’s a tremendous amount of vulnerability in making art because you create something out of nothing and put it out there to be scrutinized by other people. Whenever I share something with a client or on social media, of course there is the question, “ will they like it? ” It takes courage to do it anyway and I’m grateful to have been doing it long enough to know how to hold space for criticism. The reward for this vulnerability is connection and it’s been well worth it whenever someone tells me a piece I’ve made has resonated with them.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.
I have a pair “confidence” underwear. It’s got a gold sparkly elastic band and the Wonder Woman logo emblazoned on the butt. It is awesome.