Photography by Aline Dubois
For as long as she can recall Meredith Wing loved putting pen to paper, taking inspiration from the sartorially elite, she illustrated women in fancy dress. Throughout her education, her interest in fashion and illustration grew and after a series of breaks, including working with Coachella to sketch for big name brands, her passion has now eventuated into her full-time profession. Delicate and playful, her illustrations can’t help but put a smile on your face. We chat to illustrator Meredith Wing about how she came to find herself where she is today and her dreams for the future.
Tell us about your background, how did you arrive to where you are now, and when did your passion for your floral illustrations begin?
I have been sketching for as long as memory serves. As a four-year-old girl, sitting at a little desk set up in our kitchen, I would draw from morning until evening. The content was always similar – women in fancy dresses and hats, decked out in ruffles, lace, buttons, feathers and all the details I could squeeze into a small space.
My education was humanities-based with a sprinkle of visual arts. I was very involved in writing and the visual arts at my secondary school, Phillips Andover, and an English major at Barnard College. I adored anything sartorial, sensory, beautiful. Throughout college, I embraced the NYC fashion industry as much as time and skill-set would allow. I interned continuously at ready-to-wear design houses in NYC and attended New York Fashion Week to write little reviews in the Columbia Spectator.
The story of MooMooi is one of professional and personal exploration in my twenties. When I graduated from college, all I knew is that I wanted to live in Paris, learn the language like a local, and expose myself to the French fashion industry. Graduate work in French Studies (MA Columbia ‘09) and a position in the PR department of Lacoste allowed me to do this for several years. Returning to NYC in 2010 to help launch a women’s contemporary label kept me in this world but still did not feel creatively fulfilling. I decided a second Masters degree, this time in architecture (M.Arch Columbia ‘15) would be the perfect combination of the cerebral and the visual. In an intense, three-year, full-time program, I was humbled and awed by the architectural community.
The gradual realisation of this three year period was that I am happiest when drawing. Constantly churning out fashion illustrations for fun, I began to experiment with mixed media elements in early 2014. During a layover, my now husband and I were passing the time, as I sketched, he placed a piece of fresh Chiclet gum on my drawing in the place of a girl’s handbag. I posted this moment of whimsy to Instagram, and the reaction was so positive! I began to produce more of these girls as a bit of mental escape. The more I shared my little creations, the more encouragement I received. Several big “breaks” inspired me to turn my personal hobby into a full-time career. Town and Country ran a story on @moomooi “Our Latest Instagram Crush: These Beautiful Fashionable Flower Girls” and Soho House brought me out to Coachella to sketch on-site. There I created drawings for Grey Goose, Coach, Shop Harper’s Bazaar and composed portraits of guests like Katy Perry— exciting opportunities that made my little pastime feel like an artistic service. As demand increased for my #SomeFlowerGirls, as I fondly named them, the more I entertained the idea that something fun could also be something that produced an income and could be honed as a craft.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from all directions. The constant stream of sartorial creativity that Instagram and print publications feed us, as well as the effortless New York street style I see each day, is energising. Natural ingredients like flowers and veggies, of course, are so volumetrically perfect and rich in texture that I can’t help but imagine them as dresses, skirts, hats and other common wardrobe elements. Three years focused on materiality and structure in an architecture degree has heightened my sensitivity to these elements.
Tell us about your creative process – do you let the season dictate your designs?
While I don’t necessarily let the season dictate the designs, it certainly plays a role! Fresh peonies are so seasonal, for instance, that when they hit the flower market I want to celebrate their brief appearance! Similarly, for autumnal herbs and root vegetables, their appearance is such a welcome symbol of autumn and coming holidays. Finding creative ways to incorporate whatever is fresh in the farmer’s market or with my local florists makes me feel like I have a finger on the pulse of time.
You have worked with some amazing companies, including Soho House and Tory Burch. Tell us what has been your favourite project so far?
My recent collaboration with Herbal Essences was particularly rewarding since it allowed me to bring my drawings to life with animation! Under the creative direction of Brand New School production studio, #SomeFlowerGirls began to move and interact with one another. This has been so invigorating and has literally breathed new life into formerly static media.
Is there any particular brand or project that you would love to work on?
I would love to do a children’s book with a publishing house that takes great care in book design! I think there are a lot of important lessons and metaphors to be gleaned from the development of plant life explored with @moomooi. Incorporating my mixed media images in a narrative could be very powerful and visually appealing. Plus I love books.
What is the best thing about your job?
Hearing from moms that my illustrations allow them to have a bonding moment with their children, or have inspired a creative project involving florals and drawing, is particularly rewarding. If my work can provide a moment of escape or opportunity for a fleeting moment of fun, that is success!