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Meet Fashion Illustrator & Artist Mr Slowboy

Fei Wang is the fashion illustrator and artist behind the sartorial fictional character Mr Slowboy. Based in London with his family, the Beijing-born artist recently released his first book, Mr Slowboy; a retrospective of 6 years of illustrations. We caught up with Mr Slowboy to find out more about his practice.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the journey that has led you to becoming an established illustrator.

I worked in advertising as an Art Director and Creative Director for about 13 years. After achieving most of the desirable “goals” in the industry, I realised It wasn’t quite fun anymore and my true passion still lay in drawing.

The first “Slowboy” as a semi-fictional character was created in June 2015 to share my personal fashion tips with colleagues and friends on my blog for a hobby. It’s rather a random by-product when I was trying to insert images to demonstrate the styling of garments I wanted to discuss or comment on, because I felt it was wrong to just grab images from the internet without any authorisation. I therefore decided to draw them myself as illustrations.

Those illustrations were well received among my friends and gained me a lot of followers almost instantly including people working in the PR or marketing department for fashion brands, and that’s where I started my career as a professional fashion illustrator.

You have a very distinct style of drawing What’s the process been like to build this strong visual identity?

I drew inspiration from all sort of visual sources, from the caricatures of Vanity Fair from late 19th century and Tintin of Hergé to Indian miniature paintings and Japanese Ukiyo-e as well as some influence from Chinese ink painting, but the initial idea of “Slowboy” was inspired and influenced by the “Ivy Boys” created by the great Japanese illustrator Mr Kazuo Hozumi, who also wrote the foreword to my recently published book “Mr Slowboy: Portraits of the Modern Gentleman”.

Tell us a bit about the process. How long does a typical illustration take to draw and what techniques do you use?

Watercolour and colour pencils on paper is my main media and each drawing can take from a few hours to a few days depending on the complexity. However the real creation starts much earlier and not from sketching on paper but rather from the observations and studies of the real people around me or on the street — I like to capture those interesting moments either fun or silly that make people smile and then turn them into visual ideas for my illustrations.

"I think illustration provides more freedom and flexibility than photography for storytelling"

Why do you think illustration is becoming such as powerful medium to bring clothes to life?

Illustration used to be the predominant medium for fashion brands to showcase their products before photography took over in the late 80s. However, the tide changed again about 10 years ago, along with the emergence of social media, illustration has revived as a strong alternative to photography and film. I think illustration provides more freedom and flexibility than photography for storytelling, it’s much easier to execute and potentially cheaper on cost. Illustration is also more expressive and artistic, it offers customers a huge variety of looks and styles with a personal touch, which is more fun and unique.

Congratulations on recently releasing your first book. How did the opportunity come about? Was it always your goal to publish your work to date?

Thank you! Yes, this is my first book and a summary of my first stage of working full-time as a fashion illustrator. I was approached by Victionary, a Hong Kong based publisher in mid 2020 about creating a men’s styling book which made me review and assess all the work I had produced in the last 6 years, and it’s quite interesting and refreshing to look at them collectively. I thought perhaps I should just use this opportunity to curate an “exhibition” that archives and showcases the development of my previous commissions and personal work in a book form!

What brands are you currently into at the moment?

Drake’s is my all-time favourite brand. Recently I’m into Japanese brands such as Post Overalls and Old Joe Brand.

Take a look at Mr Slowboy's selection of special pre-owned pieces from the likes of Drake's, Mackintosh, Arpenteur and much more.