Urban tails: Illustration show in Hong Kong


I’ve been drawing cute animals in natural settings for a while and I love doing that but for this exhibition I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try doing something a bit different. The idea of animals in the city was something I hadn’t explored much before but I wanted to give it a twist by choosing to portray animals with a vintage aesthetic i.e. wearing vintage clothes, patterns and having a vintage colour palette as well. 


The first step was to make a mood board to guide me through the process of creating the illustrations and also to help me keep a cohesive theme throughout. In my research I discovered my love for outfits of the 50’s; I love the feminine and playful silhouettes and the fun patterns and use of colour. I wanted to design chic and charming characters that appeal to grown ups as well as children but it was very important for me that the designs were cohesive with my drawing style.

Urban tails: mood board

Urban tails: mood board


I wanted the illustrations to be cohesive both in theme and colour so I chose a colour palette that evoked nostalgia and warmth and I used it for all the pieces I created for the show. I found my colour inspiration in old wall paper designs - mostly from the 1920s - but I added a few bright colours for contrast.

My colour palette

My colour palette


My first idea was to create 8 designs but time constrains meant that I only had time to do 6. In the end I included all the elements that I've always loved drawing i.e. umbrellas, bicycles, flowers, shop fronts and bunting but stylised my characters a bit to make them look more elegant and to fit better with the vintage theme. I paid a lot of attention to the designs of the clothes and accessories and also did some pattern designs that I used to frame 3 of the illustrations.


I was exhibiting together with other 5 talented illustrators from all around the world based in Hong Kong. It was so interesting to see how each of them interpreted the theme in their own unique way and media.
The show was in a cozy gallery in Kowloon called Swing a Cat and we organised quite a few activities for the opening day like collaborative drawing, live painting, snacks, fun photo-booth, etc.


Once again I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and to do a live painting session of animal portraits. I asked people what animal they wanted to be painted as and painted it with my beloved Kuretake Gansai watercolours. Each portrait took me around 20 minutes to finish and everybody seemed really happy with the result. I had a lot of fun and it's definitely something that I'd like to do again.


The show lasted for 3 weeks so every weekend each of us organised different activities. I did a washi tape workshop - decorative masking tape - where we used the tape to decorate the clothes for the animals I had designed for the show. I brought over 30 designs of tape to choose from. The participants enjoyed the workshop very much, and I still receive messages from some of them showing me new designs they've done.  


I'm very grateful to have met and collaborated with this wonderful group of talented people. It was truly a group effort and the show was a great success. Special thanks to Jo for suggesting a group show!
Laura Mannering
John Ng
Kris Tsang
Kat J. Weiss
Joanne Wong

Kat, Pearl (a friend), Jo, Laura, Kris, John, Gina

Kat, Pearl (a friend), Jo, Laura, Kris, John, Gina

All images © Gina Maldonado

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