What do you get when you fuse flowers and fashion illustrations? Answer: Meredith Wing’s quirky, elegant images — where peony petals are couture gowns, tulips are bubble skirts, and coneflowers are floppy sun hats.
Wing, a designer and illustrator, blends illustrations with found objects like flowers, feathers, seashells, and buttons. She documents her mixed-media creations on her popular Instagram account, @moomooi, and has worked with brands like Coach, Grey Goose, and Patrón Tequila.
We chatted with Wing about the creativity and process behind her whimsical images.
Shutterstock: What is your process like? Do you take a flower and draw around it, or do you draw first and then find a flower to put in?
Meredith Wing: I do a combination of both. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to do an illustration of a woman, and then I think, “How can I dress her?” And then sometimes I see a flower, an orchid or a rose that’s really beautiful for its structure, and then I say, “I have to make something out of that.” I’ll lay it down on the paper and I’ll stare at it. I’ll draw around it, I’ll move it aside if I need to, then move it back, and see how it fits. I’ll do it in tandem. Sometimes one inspires the other and vice versa.
Your art is really interesting because you’re creating illustrations, but there’s photography involved too, and you’re also adding in physical objects like flowers and buttons. How did you come up with the idea to combine all of these different elements?
It’s definitely a mixed media type of thing, and it’s been fun trying to familiarize myself not only with different art mediums like watercolor drawings or acrylics, but with the materials themselves — like how flower petals age and how they tear apart and the different species that do that.
I remember playing in an airport with my fiancé during a layover and having a little pack of Chiclet gum, and, to be silly, I made a drawing and I made it as a little purse. I posted this little Chiclet purse to Instagram, and people really liked it. So I kind of fed off that and started doing little found objects and drawings, just because it was kind of quirky and I liked it.
It’s kind of whimsical, and I liked the ephemerality of having an object on a piece of artwork that would only be there in the photograph, and you could tell was particular to the moment. It became a fun challenge to figure out how to use different brands’ products as parts of the illustrations, using the stirrers from Grey Goose cocktails, or little buttons from Coach handbags, or little corks from Patrón bottles or labels. As people have asked me to do things, I’ve been forced to be creative within constraints, which I like the challenge of.
How do you stay creative, and where do you get new ideas from?
My mind’s constantly going; I never feel a shortage for ideas. I’m constantly looking at visual feeds: Instagram, Tumblr, magazines, books. I’m hypersensitive to all those things. I love Pinterest, fashion magazines, anything visual. Sometimes I’m inspired by a fashion advertisement, or a fashion blogger’s outfit on Instagram, or a certain flower arrangement — so it comes from all different places.
How do you go about composing your photos?
I’ve always been super visual and aesthetic, and I’m really sensitive to good composition, good color balance, and a nice balance of textures. I kind of go more on instinct than formula, and it’s worth noting that I do a lot of failed experiments before I get it right — it’s not like every photo you see was the only one I took. I experiment, then I re-visit with a fresh eye, and I try to pare it down to what works the best. It’s totally trial and error and instinct.
Do you have any tips on composition, texture, or color?
I think there are basic photography composition rules that I have a very rough understanding of, but I try to frame an image, when I think it’s appropriate, with objects. I try and balance colors on opposite ends, so if there’s a big cluster of a certain hue on the bottom left, I just try and balance the weight of the photo wherever I see it heavy on one side. I try to balance, whether it be color, or texture, or volume — not necessarily mirror it, but have one part of the photo speak to another.
Do you have any tips for artists or illustrators?
I think it really shows when you’re passionate about something you do. Even if it’s seemingly small and frivolous and silly, I just think it really comes through when you’re really into whatever you’re doing. I think that’s the most salient piece of advice I have.
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