We spoke with Wengsi Chiu who illustrated Lisa’s Book, The Tale of Kale. Wengsi is a recent graduate from McGill University, and completed her undergrad in International Development Studies and Urban Systems Geography. She is particularly interested in food security as well as using creative design to promote sustainability and create social change. Shortly after returning to Toronto, she approached Lisa to explore working together. Wengsi is somewhat of an accidental illustrator – The Tale of Kale was a fun project, and she embraced the new experience and the challenge to bring Lisa’s charismatic son, Andy, to life through illustrations. Wengsi shares the challenges of creating Lisa’s vision, what it was like to meet Andy, and how illustrating is like trying kale for the first time.
Why did you initially reach out to Borden Communications?
I found you through your TakeOut WithOut Campaign and thought it was a great initiative. I was interested in communications and campaigns promoting sustainability. I was also just about to graduate and move back to Toronto so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get in touch. I knew that you were the people I wanted to work with. (The connection was instantaneous!)
We’re entirely grateful for your adorable illustrations and helping to bring The Tale of Kale to life. Have you ever illustrated a children’s’ book before?
Growing up, I loved to draw but I never imagined myself illustrating a children’s book. The Tale of Kale was my first experience and I am grateful that Lisa trusted me to take on the project.
We had a vision (as we often do) for what we wanted it the book to look + feel like. How challenging was it to make Lisa’s ideas a reality?
It helped that Lisa had an idea in mind and encouraged me to do my best. Although it took a few attempts at facial expressions and moppy hairstyles, we got to something we were both happy with. She really helped me through the process, which was all very new to me. (And new to us, too, but we enjoyed figuring it out together!)
How did it feel to hold the finished book in your hands for the first time?
It felt absolutely great. It made me feel accomplished and put a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to show everyone!
When you finally met Andy in person (after the book was printed), was he as you imagined the character you had illustrated?
The Tale of Kale is about trying new things, developing new habits, and recognizing life lessons in everyday moments. What did you learn while working on the book?
For me, illustrating was definitely like trying kale for the first time. I learned that patience, an open mind, and a positive attitude can help you accomplish a lot and discover new things about yourself. I didn’t realize how much I loved to draw.
What’s next on your list of things to accomplish?
I think it is every International Development student’s dream to change the world and be that mosquito in the room. But first, I’m going to keep learning and gain more experience. I plan to pursue a Masters next year so that’s what I’m working towards at the moment.
For more information, visit thetaleofkale.com.