I first met JOYCE WAN in a classroom. We were taking courses on Greeting Card Design and Art Licensing at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. These classes were a valuable experience helping us understand the economic potential of our artistic visions while providing avenues for getting our art in the marketplace. We learned how to build a brand, market our products, exhibit at trade shows and set-up licensing deals with manufacturers.

One of the best parts of these continuing education classes was meeting a diverse group of talented people and discovering their artwork. I vividly remember the first time I saw Joyce’s Asian influenced designs. What many of us were searching for, Joyce had already discovered; her brand. Her style was simple, colorful and precise. Joyce’s design studio WANART is a prime example of how creativity, focus and a dedication to spreading happiness into the world can lead to success.

bndd: You describe your work as simple. What do you think it is about your style that people connect with?

When I create my illustrations that’s always one of my goals; to make them sweet, charming and innocent and people respond positively. I’m inspired by Japanese pop art. My aesthetic lends itself to more playful, some say a juvenile quality (laughs), but that’s the kind of style that I like. Because of the simplicity of my illustrations they appeal to very young people. For example, my books are board books that are usually geared to ages 0 – 3, but honestly I’m lucky because a lot of adults appreciate my designs as well.

bndd:You have two children’s books published by Scholastic, You Are My Cupcake” and We Belong Together.” How did these come about?

Both of those books came from my greeting card designs. “You Are My Cupcake” is based on a line of new baby cards I had with illustrations based on food terms of endearment like ‘cupcake’, ‘sweet-pea’ and ‘cutie-pie’. “We Belong Together” is based on a line of non-conventional wedding cards with images of things that go together like ‘peanut butter and jelly’, ‘bacon and eggs’ and ‘pencil and paper’. I thought “You Are My Cupcake” would make a really cute baby book. I didn’t have a literary agent at the time, so I created a mock-up and sent it out to different publishers. Scholastic is the one that got back to me. Ultimately, we collaborated and came up with the second book, “We Belong Together.” We thought it would make a nice companion book.

RELATED: Children’s Book “We Belong Together” by Joyce Wan featured in the Society of Illustrators 2011 original art show.

bndd: I’m infatuated with your characters Kiwi and Pear…

Kiwi and Pear are two monkeys that are inseparable; they do everything together. People ask me if they’re boys or girls, but I keep them androgynous on purpose. Although they’re shown as a pair of monkeys hugging, I consider them a symbol of love and friendship. Kiwi and Pear were originally based on a greeting card of the monkeys hugging on a solid pink background. That card was one of my best selling cards. People really responded to the simplicity of it. I wanted to expand on that design and started putting them into situations like traveling or watching the sunset together in a similar pose. From putting them in scenes like traveling the world and visiting landmarks, a narrative started to form. Those characters are actually what got me my first book contract. I was exhibiting at the New York International Gift Fair and a publisher that was familiar with my greeting card designs stopped by my booth. They called me a couple of months after the show and asked if I’d be interested in doing a book on Kiwi and Pear. My first picture book “Greetings from Kiwi and Pear” came out in 2009.

NEWS!: Spring 2013 children’s book deal for WANART. Find out more here…

bndd: You’ve had some amazing success with children’s books. What are some of the other products you’ve made out of your designs?

I have a line of infant apparel based on the Chinese Zodiac. Baby onesies packed in little take-out boxes. I sell prints and buttons. Also a big part of my business is greeting and note cards. Lots of paper products.

bndd: How important is it to include Asian inspired designs among your collections?

Asian inspired designs fuel my inspiration. My reason for starting [my design company] WANART is because I couldn’t find designs I could relate to or send to my parents. My first collection of designs was the Chinese zodiac created in a very simple and contemporary style. A bit of advice I give is you can’t appeal to everyone, so you should try to pick a niche and start from there. It will help you stand out from what’s out there.

bndd: When we first met we were students at SVA. It’s been almost 10 years and now your teaching those same courses. What’s it like instructing creative spirits?

Visiting Joyce’s booth at the New York International Gift Show.

When I took those classes they changed my life and it’s so great for me to sit on the other side of the classroom now and help someone start a project by motivating, guiding and answering their questions. All of those things can add up to someone possibly doing something great with their lives and following their dreams. I always feel extra proud when my students take what they’ve learned from me and put their art into the world. I have one student, Brannon Cullum who debuted her line Happy Cactus Designs at the National Stationery Show. Brannon’s really taking everything’s she’s learned and moving forward. Instructing at SVA has been amazing for me. I feel like everything has come full circle. For me to give back in that way has been very rewarding. I enjoy helping people follow their passions. —

DISCOVER: WANART

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easy season 1For Autumn/Winter 2015, Kanye West and adidas Originals unveil a bold new proposition: YEEZY SEASON 1, a collection of apparel and footwear that cherishes universality and timelessness. Described by West as the world’s first “solutions-based” clothing line, the individual pieces define a style that matches the relentless pace of contemporary lives. “I don’t want the clothes to be the life,” he says. “I want the clothes to help the life.”

easy season 1Presented during New York Fashion Week just before All-Star Weekend, the show was conceptualized by West in close collaboration with renowned contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft. Upon entering the venue, guests were lead into a dimly lit room, where 9 rows of models stood stoic. As lights turned on with blinding intensity, each row of models progressed forward, lending the audience a full view of the clothes. Guests including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Drake, Justin Bieber, P. Diddy, Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, George Condo, Anna Wintour, Spike Jonze, Russell Simmons, Big Sean, Pete Wentz, Pusha T, A$AP Ferg, Steven Klein, 2Chainz, Cassie, Alexander Wang, Kehinde Wiley, Tom Sachs, Gia Coppola, Travis Scott, A-Trak, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Hailey Baldwin, and adidas athletes John Wall and Von Miller. “Wolves” an unreleased track from West’s forthcoming studio album embodied the pinnacle of this epic performance.”

Watch: adidas Originals x Kanye West | YEEZY SEASON 1 – NYFW

Listen: Premiere of Kanye’s collaboration with Sia and hip-hop artist Vic Mensa “Wolves” (starts at 8:24)

With this collection, West’s goal is to absolve consumers of dressing’s daily stress by creating a line of high-quality essentials that can be freely combined in infinite ways—”like Legos,” he says. For the designer this means stripped-down, comfortable, and unpretentious clothes for a “modern jet-set couple,” pieces to be worn from the gym to the office to a meeting to the airport and everywhere in between. “I wanted something that felt like New York or Paris or Tokyo or Santa Barbara or Chicago—a worldliness and an ease.”

LIKE the band Facebook page here…

West defines a silhouette of considered volume—billowing and oversize on top, tight and trim around the bottom—based largely on his personal sense of style. A study in contrasts like street-luxury and vintage-new, the clothing shapes a new modern wardrobe. For men, this includes MA-2 bombers with oversize flap pockets; washed cotton collarless blouson jackets; oversize sweats with distressed edges and worn, puckered hems; and perfect T-shirts in tones of camel, olive, blue-gray, and camouflage. Each piece is intended to be worn by any sex.

Follow band on Twitter here…

The women’s collection, however, clearly and intentionally shapes a feminine silhouette with high-waist, knee-length, body-conscious knit skirts; floor-grazing cotton tube dresses; tightly woven running tees; and stunning crop tops ingeniously crafted from adidas socks. “This is a challenge to where fashion is currently—a new feminine ideal,” West says, explaining the curve-hugging pieces.

kanye west easy season 1For footwear, West and adidas presented further breakthroughs following the highly anticipated launch of the YEEZY Boost. Newly revealed shoes included woven lo-top sneakers for men and suede stilettos and platform snow boots for women—developed in close tandem with adidas’ products team. The designer expresses his gratitude to adidas for its unparalleled technical prowess. He says, “They are a super innovative company that gives artists a platform to create and dream.”

Check out: adidas Originals by Rita Ora here…

Beecroft has shown internationally since 1993. She is noted for her innovative performances and unconventional approach to the creation of images and communication. Her works reside in the gap between art and life. Though her live events are recorded through photography and film, her conceptual approach is most similar to the creation of a live painting.

Beecroft’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections around the world, including the MAXXI National Museum of XXI Arts, Rome, Italy (2014); Colony Club, New York, NY (2014); Art Basel, Miami, Florida, USA (2013); Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan, Italy (2011); MMK, Frankfurt, Germany (2010); Mercato Ittico, Naples, Italy (2010); PAC, Milan, Italy (2009); Spasimo, Palermo, Italy (2008); Pescheria di Rialto, Venice, Italy (2007); Gana Art Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2007); The National Gallery, London, UK (2006); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (2005); Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany (2004); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy (2003); Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2002); Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy (2001); Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (1998); MoMa P.S.1, Long Island City, New York, USA (1994).

“Wolves” by Kanye West. Co-writers: Cashmere Cat, Vic Mensa, Sia, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein. Producers: Kanye West, Cashmere Cat, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Plain Pat. Side artists: Vic Mensa, Sia

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