Since it's a new year, we decided to switch up the format for our Insider Interview. Our first interview with the new format is with Jocelyn Teng, a fashion illustrator and designer. Born in Taipei, China, raised in Vancouver and now living in Toronto, Teng pursued design at the age of sixteen and received a Bachelor's Degree in fashion design soon after.
Working mostly with watercolours, Teng regularly contributes to the glossy pages of Elle Canada and has lent her expertise to labels like Greta Constantine, MAC Cosmetics, Stoli Canada and Viktor & Rolf. The original artwork she creates is also available for purchase on her website Wall9.
1. How did you get started illustrating for Elle Canada?
It was through my roommate at the time, and the online editor is one of my roommate’s friends. We started talking and she found out that I worked in fashion, and where I worked. So she said, “We have this opportunity. Would you be interested?” And I said, “Yeah, totally!” So through that I started illustrating for them and even through Greta Constantine – they do a lot of projectS with Elle so they will also get me to do illustrations whenever they have publishing opportunities.
2. What kind of direction does Elle give you?
They never really give me anything specific. They say, for the horoscopes, we want fashion-related figures. That’s really all they give me and then I can go off of a sketch and I show them really quickly, "Is this what like?" and they say, "Yeah, yeah" and we’ll go from there. But not a lot of restrictions – I can do what I like.
3. What are some of your inspirations when creating new content?
Anything visually interesting. For me, most of my illustrations are fashion-inspired but not necessarily just from fashion magazines. It can be from old photographs, documentaries, even books. It can be anything that makes me go, “Why is this so interesting? Why is this so image so attractive or so powerful?" And then I go from there and then I break it down into my own style.
4. Does your online shop offer new content to keep your audience engaged?
I try to. I have a news section and that updates if I have any special events or pop-up shops or just a holiday greeting to keep my audience interested in what I’m doing because I feel like audiences need new things so much more frequently these days. With blogs and Facebook and Twitter, I think it’s very important to keep everyone engaged so they keep checking your website and they don’t forget about you.
5. How has social media changed the way that you engage with your audience?
I definitely have to keep up with it. Sometimes I find it exhausting but I think this is what you have to do when you have an online shop. I also look at a lot of other online shops to see what they offer to try to keep up with the trends, especially because I’m in fashion. I try to put out new content if I can but I don’t want to bombard my customers with status updates every two seconds. I try to put out something that’s important, precise and really represents me and not just a status update, it’s like a strong message that I want to give out.