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Pinky Fang: talking pets, pickles and patterns

Citing cats as her primary muse, talented illustrator Pinky Fang creates keepsake pet portraits, vibrant food and flower patterns, and sees people wandering around her home country, New Zealand, with her work tattooed on their bodies. Here she tells us what it’s like to illustrate as a day job:

Tell us how you got into illustrating …

I was always an arty kid, my mum has boxes and boxes of drawings that I would tear through every day. As a kid I always thought I’d grow up to be an artist, but real life got in the way. I spent a few listless years at university pursuing subjects I thought might get me a ‘real job’. I spent the whole time just doodling in my lecture books. A few years back I just started drawing again properly and decided this was what I definitely wanted to do, whether it made me poor or not. I’ve never looked back!

Why cats, bones, meatballs and gherkins?

The cats is an easy one: ­I am obsessed with them. I only own one cat but I’ve always had such a soft spot for them, they are my muses. The bones, meatballs and gherkins all come from a desire to create patterns that are a bit different to the usual. You see a lot of fruit prints around, I wanted to create food prints that weren’t typically seen as aesthetically pleasing. The gherkin print became one of the most popular things I’ve ever done, I didn’t realise so many people enjoyed the crunchy brined treats as much as I do!

Pinky Fang Illustrations

Where’d the name Pinky Fang come from?

A while back, when I thought I’d try my hand at being a bit of a graffiti artist I came up with the name ‘Fang’. It was a riff off NYC based female graffiti artist ‘Claw’ and I liked that it related back to cats. Pinky was a nickname I was given by a co-worker years ago when I had pink hair. I’ve had red hair now for six years but it’s still stuck for some reason.

What do you do for a day job?

I’m lucky enough to mostly do art as a day job. One of my main sources of work is drawing portraits of people’s pets for them. It’s great because I get to draw these beautiful animals all the time and create something one-of-a-kind for their owners. I also do freelance illustration work for websites, and all sorts of odd jobs that people approach me with. I also work one day a week at an amazing little record store down the street from my house, which provides my music fix.

Tell us about some interesting projects you’re working on right now …

I’ve gotten really into zine making recently. Zines are little self-published books that can involve any topic at all, in any format you see fit. I’m starting work soon on volume three of a collaborative zine I put together called ‘Worst Experience Ever’ and currently working on one about a terrible buffet I went to once. I’m also looking to have my second solo exhibition this year and I’m hoping to introduce some new skills and mediums to my work, including more 3D stuff.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I absolutely loved working on my first solo exhibition last year, I worked in a range of mediums and felt the show represented my style well. I also got to fulfill a long time dream of mine to hack a Billy Bass. Billy Bass are those old electronic fish on a board that you might find in your dad’s garage, they have timers in them and sing ‘Take me to the River’. With a very clever electrical engineer friend we got them to rap Notorious B.I.G lyrics and make bizarre sounds. I love taking old kitsch things and making them modern or funny.

Also the fact that approximately 52 people have my drawings tattooed on them is pretty astounding for me. Most of them were done as a collaboration with my tattooist friend, Nursey, where I drew heaps of different simple cat-related tattoos for people to choose from and she inked them. Every time I see one of them in real life I get a buzz!

Pinky Fang

What’s the hardest part of being an artist?

The biggest hurdle you need to get over when being an artist is that you are not always going to produce good work. You’re always learning, and you should ideally never stop learning as an artist. If you’re too anxious about sucking at it you’re never going to produce anything. Sometimes you might have to try things again and again until you get it right, but a lot of my best ideas have come from mistakes!

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

Records. I’ve always loved music and I really enjoy keeping a tangible collection of my favourite artists. There’s something so nice about owning the cover art in full size and physically having to put a record on to enjoy a whole album at once.

What’s your favourite item in your #khoollection?

It would have to be my record player! It’s probably the most expensive item I own, apart from my laptop. It’s a beautiful and simply designed manual player with a bright red acrylic deck.

Pinky Fang Cats and Patterns

Who are your favourite illustrators?

I have so many favourite illustrators that it’s very hard to narrow down, so these are the ones I’ve been digging lately: Annu Kilpeläinen, Phoebe Paradise, Giselle Clarkson and my incredibly talented studio mate Xoe Hall.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

I know so many amazing, talented, strong and beautiful people and I am inspired by them all in different ways. So if I had to pick just one person to be my crush and inspiration, I’m just going to go all out and say Beyonce!

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Pink Fang

Find out more

You can check out Pinky’s work at her website, and follow her colourful adventures on Instagram and Facebook. And, check out her tips for posing your pets for portraits.

Photos by

Dinosaurtoast