Meet illustrator Celine Ka Wing Lau

Hong Kong illustrator Celine on how her art is her legacy

Hi Celine, can you tell us about your story and your background?

I’m an illustrator from Hong Kong, now based in London. I studied BA (Hons) Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. I love illustrating bold and colourful images with a bit of a dry sense of humour. I have been working with clients such Scouts UK, Hire a Helper, PaperBoy, Anorak Magazine and I am represented by antonia & louise.

Celine Ka Wing Lau

How has Hong Kong influenced your art? And how has London?

Hong Kong has been my home for the last two decades, and still is. When I studied art at secondary school level, my teachers used to say to me that my work didn’t really fit with the curriculum, but they were still encouraging. In the last 5 to 8 years I’ve noticed a change: Hong Kong has transformed from an art development perspective, it is a huge transaction hub and a lot of auction houses have their Asia headquarters here. But the city is fast paced and it can be hard for new artists to emerge. London has allowed me to grow professionally and personally. There’s more competition, of course but also more opportunities and more companies to work for. There’s a great community of artists and illustrators too which helps our careers.

So I’d say Hong Kong has shaped how I am as a person, while London has shaped me professionally but also has improved me, turning me into a better version of myself.

What’s your artistic process? What inspires you the most? And what does your art mean to you?

I’m not a great communicator with words, but I find art really helps me to communicate with others. It has also become my kind of therapy when I’m feeling down. I draw stuff and it cheers me up. Even though I’m in my 20s, I still have a child-like wonder that keeps me going. It helps me to navigate the world and allows me to explore my inner self; when I feel unsure or I’m in doubt. Illustration is a magnificent tool, you can build your own little world with a piece of paper and a pen.

In terms of process, I research the subject and I’ll do a rough draft in my sketchbook. Once I’m happy with it I start drawing it on my iPad. I then decide for the colour, create the outlines and then colour in.

Tell us more about your latest project for Anorak Magazine

This is my second commission for Anorak Magazine. This time I was given a brief to do the cover and feature of their Spring edition, which is about octopuses. I didn’t know much about them and was scared of them, but by doing research I now think they are cute! For the cover, apart from drawing different species, I drew other elements that children could relate to octopuses to show how intelligent and creative they are, like a Rubik’s Cube, an artist’s hat and paint brushes.

It was a challenge to turn them into cute characters, but I used vibrant colours to show the diversity within their species and also the personalities they have.

Our theme for May was ‘Leaving a legacy’. How do you feel about yours? What would you like to be remembered for?

It’s probably obvious to say, but my art is my legacy. I like to think of it as something positive and full of empathy. Living in this troubled world is not easy, so I wish for people to accept who they are, be forgiving and find humour, regardless of how tough our lives are. When I’m no longer here, I hope my art can still have that effect on people.

Featured image: Celine Lau artwork