With designs as playful as his identity, WHOSMiNG delights in letting his drawings do the talking. With a brand name that gives nothing away, the down-to-earth Taiwanese artist and illustrator works with sparse, simple lines, setting the scene and telling a story.
We caught up with the keen traveller, talking about his creative process, community and, of course, coffee.
TRAVEL AND COFFEE
When we last met up with Ming, the artist was drawing an excited crowd to our coffee shop on Scoresby Street in London for an exclusive Origin x WHOSMiNG pop up event. With a smile that fills a room, and an easy-going manner, he put everyone at ease as they sat down before him to enjoy a coffee and conversation. With a seemingly effortless array of simple pen strokes and lines, Ming brought the moment to life, transforming coffee cups into takeaway art and treasured keepsakes.
Despite his laidback manner, Ming leads a calendar-stacked lifestyle, which is why we were thrilled that he was keen to work with us again on our exclusive Lunar New Year coffee releases. The four coffees take the drinker on a journey through Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Indonesia, and China, brilliantly illustrated under Ming’s creative name, WHOSMiNG. The designs pick out key landmarks from each region, characterised with rabbits to tie in the Chinese zodiac sign for 2023—the Year of the Rabbit.
Ming has a keen, international following of fans who delight in his playful and charismatic designs – noting David Bowie as inspiration for his creative style – yet the artist didn’t expect to be able to make a living from something he’s loved since childhood. “I’ve always loved drawing,” he told us. “But I never honestly thought about making a career out of it!” Lucky for Ming, his career path, much like his talent, came naturally, and since graduating from university, Ming has worked as a web designer for close to a decade, alongside working on graphic and animated design. Somehow, he still found time for his own creative work, and in 2019, he developed WHOSMiNG—with instant success. From collabs with a diverse range of brands, to personal projects that often combine his loves of coffee and travel, Ming has found himself with a loyal following of fans who appreciate his ability to capture and express personality and moments in his work. “I use very few lines for drawing, so every stroke counts; I spend a lot of time observing, before I begin,” Ming said of his practice—acknowledging, too, that lots of practice is key.
But there have been limitations to just how often Ming’s been able to take his pen out to practice. The next few years proved anything but easy for a creative spirit and keen traveller. When COVID restrictions put the world into lockdown, Ming had to put travel plans on hold, staying at home in Taipei—his trip to London to join us the first he’d been able to make since travel bans were lifted. “I enjoy discovering new ideas and inspiration, and I think travel is inherently part of a designer’s nature, the need to explore,” he explained. “New York City is one of my favourite cities to explore—I’m not exactly sure why; it’s a little like being into someone. Sometimes it’s hard to define the reason—it’s more of a feeling.” It’s that feeling that Ming is so good at capturing. “I translate these moments in life with simple lines infused with a touch of humour and warmth.”
With a new year, Ming’s keen for a good work and life balance, with time for not only travel, but coffee, too. Whether it’s visiting his local coffee shop, practicing his latte art, or making his first brew of the day, coffee provides connection, ritual, and inspiration for Ming. “Coffee is definitely a part of my daily life,” he agrees. “At home, I really enjoy the process of making coffee. There’s a great coffee shop near my apartment, so I visit a few times a week to draw and gather ideas, and I like to go hang out there with friends as well. I hope 2023 is a year of balance and smoothness, more coffee, and more discoveries.”
We hope so, too.
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