Anny Peng

Anny Peng

(She/Her) • London, UK

Biography Interview

Anny Peng, a London-based Chinese illustrator, shifted from graphic design to illustration. Her work, marked by bright colors and simple lines, blends humor and wit with reflections on contemporary society. Inspired by diverse experiences and global events, Anny’s lively style resonates worldwide.

Selected clients

It’s Nice That, Bloomberg, New York Times

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Editorial, Publishing, Commercial

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  • 2020 World Illustration Awards, Highly Commended
  • 2022 NewOne Awards, Shortlisted

Anny Peng

Your pronouns

How do you define your identity? Do you identify with (or advocate for) any marginalised communities?
A woman originally from a traditional small city in southern China, now residing in the UK. Having transitioned from a small city to a bustling metropolis like London, I’ve experienced a significant cultural shift. This journey has shaped my perspective, blending elements of my Eastern roots with the influences of Western society. This unique cultural background enables me to empathise with diverse perspectives, and it has made me attentive to issues of race and gender. I strongly support and advocate for marginalised communities.

Describe your style of illustration in one sentence
My illustration style is characterised by absurdity, strangeness, and humour, often satirising life with vibrant colours and unexpected metaphors.

What lights your soul on fire?
Music – Can’t draw without my brilliant playlists!

What themes do you enjoy exploring?
I find inspiration in human stories and experiences, which serve as my creative fuel. Whether delving into the quirky, heartfelt, or downright absurd, these narratives ignite my imagination. Particularly, I’m drawn to exploring themes related to social issues, gender dynamics, and the experiences of marginalised groups. It’s within these realms that I discover endless possibilities for artistic expression and meaningful storytelling.

What techniques do you use?
I mainly create digital illustrations on Procreate, jot down ideas in my sketchbook with pencils and markers, and I’m currently exploring animation!

How much of yourself and your own story can we see in your work?
My work is basically a mirror of me! It’s messy, quirky, and sometimes funny—just like me. Most of what I create is inspired by my daily life. So, that messy-haired character you see? Yep, that’s probably me!

What do you want to be known for?
I aim to be recognised as an intelligent, laid-back, and humorous artist, known for delivering surprising, engaging works. I strive to make collaboration fun and effortless.

Which projects excite you most?
I’m genuinely thrilled by every project! I always find intriguing aspects to delve into, whether it’s from the brief itself or the initial concept.

What is your dream gig?
I have a strong passion for creating editorial illustrations and bringing stories to life through my artwork. However, I’m also eager to explore diverse projects. Working with brands or publications, for instance, presents an exciting opportunity for me to challenge myself creatively.

Where, when and how do you best create?
Inspiration usually strikes at night when I’m in my cozy room, preferably with a cuppa, dressed in my pyjamas. The weather’s just right— not too cold. And I like to have some indie or post-punk music playing in the background. Songs from The Strokes and The Cure are usually my go-to for those creative moments.

How has your style evolved since you started?
I began creating ‘art’ as a child, often sketching on any available surface with little regard for traditional standards. While my early drawings elicited mixed reactions from those around me, I remained undeterred. Without the constraints of formal art education, I was free to explore my creativity without limitations. As I grew older, I discovered surrealism and found myself drawn to its bizarre and unexpected elements. This, coupled with my innate inclination towards subtlety, led me to incorporate metaphorical elements into my work as a means of expression. And metaphors have become a hallmark of my drawings, allowing me to express ideas indirectly and shape my unique style over time.

What do you find most challenging in your practice or in the illustration industry?
For me, the biggest challenge lies in finding the balance between my personal creative vision, the demands of the industry, and public preferences. It’s essential to stay true to my artistic identity amidst evolving trends and external influences.

How as being an illustrator changed your life?
Being an illustrator is like – opening the door to my brain and letting all the quirky ideas out for everyone to see. It’s unleashed my imagination and added a creative spark to my life.

Name a tool you can’t live without!
My iPad. (Please keep water away from it Anny.)

Tell us about a project you worked on that was meaningful to you as an artist.
The most meaningful project for me was during my undergraduate studies when I worked on a small project about the identity of London. Although I was studying graphic design at the time, my passion for illustration led me to transform the project into a series of illustrations. To my surprise, my tutor loved them and encouraged me to pursue illustration further, suggesting I enter competitions like World Illustration Awards. Coincidentally, I discovered that the WIA competition deadline was the next day. I decided to submit my work, and to my delight, my illustrations received a Highly Commended award and were well-received by both the public and the judges. It was only then that I realized that my illustrations were loved by people, and the experience gave me the confidence to pursue a career as an illustrator.

What would you tell your younger self?
It’s okay to be ‘weird’; someday someone will appreciate your talent! x

Why do you think art speaks louder than words?
Art can convey both the tangible and the intangible, creating a sensory and spiritual connection that words alone can’t achieve.

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