The Legacy of Kung Pao Chicken
Type of work
Creative direction, editorial design, illustration,
This editorial project features the legacy of the Chinese dish, Kung Pao Chicken, in a series of 6 spreads. Using an article written by the L.A. Times, I developed layouts and an art direction that enhanced the overall concept of the written copy into a visual narrative. This short magazine also uses illustrations as its main storytelling element, paying homage to the dish’s cultural legacy by echoing traditional Chinese artwork.
This piece not only represents the beauty of Chinese culture told through food but also serves to honour my heritage.
The inspiration for the aesthetic and feel of this editorial comes from traditional Chinese watercolor paintings. I wanted to create a contemporary feel balanced with the traditional Chinese style of illustrations to honor the roots of the dish. Bringing all of this together, I chose muted green tones, bold warm colors and sharp typefaces that enhance the richness of the dish's story.
In order to achieve the desired texture and look of the illustrations, I experimented with different types of papers and inks, including watercolor paints and gouache. It was important to find the perfect texture to capture the essence of the dish's Chinese history and embed it into images that translate the spirit of the dish.
After multiple attempts, I used an ink brush marker on rice paper to create the desired texture for these images, retaining the 'ink' feel through stroke modulation and high contrast saturation. The simplicity of the illustrations, using only one color and mostly shading, allows the story of the dish to be the focal point by supporting the narrative visually.
To complement these illustrations, I also incorporated hand-written Chinese calligraphy by my father. I also played around with incorporating different themes for each spread to further enhance the significance of the text, exploring themes such as the origin of the ingredients, the journey of the dish's story, and the legacy it left behind.