Today we’re talking to French illustrator Jenny Lelong, AKA Niniwanted. Her cute, Japan-inspired illustrations have brought joy to many since she became a full-time freelance illustrator just one year ago.
Tell us about yourself. What do you make?
I’m Jenny Lelong, better known as Niniwanted, a former graphic designer, and currently a freelance illustrator, with a naive pop art style. I live in a small village surrounded by the Beaujolais in France.
My personal work is inspired by my love of Japan, and with my light-hearted universe I invite viewers to wander in a joyful and colorful world. I work with different companies, apparel brands, children’s publishing houses, and mobile apps.
I run an online shop to sell my own paper goods and I create different kinds of products such as prints, stickers, notepads, calendars, and washi tapes. I’m currently working on new products like keyrings and bags.
I also do collabs with other creators and brands such as Yeaaah Studio! And Rhinoshield.
Tell us about your workspace
I’m lucky to have a big apartment where I have my own workspace, and this is where I’ve worked everyday since 2016.
This room changed a lot and the more my shop grows, the more I’m rearranging. Currently I have a desk to draw and another big desk to wrap orders from my shop.
Since I’m freelancing, I tried to create a cozy space to makes me happy to work everyday.
What is your favorite material or tool to work with?
I mainly work on Procreate with my iPad as it’s very convenient and so intuitive but for bigger artworks, I work on Photoshop and Illustrator with a Cintiq.
I can work with vectors but I prefer the organic style and Procreate does the perfect job!
How long have you been illustrating/designing? Who taught you or where did you learn?
I started to draw my comics online in 2009 and I studied applied arts at university.
It was very theoretical but I wanted to be a graphic designer so I did a lot of internships in advertising agencies and publishing houses that taught me a lot in graphic design and illustration.
Then, step by step through my different jobs as a graphic designer, I was asked to draw for professional projects. It made me feel confident enough to have a side job as a freelance illustrator to work with my own clients.
I’m self-taught and experiences with coworkers and clients help me to learn more and more.
What is the most challenging aspect of your craft?
I think the most difficult part of my job is running my online shop: creating products within a deadline, communicating with suppliers, receiving and quality checking products, preparing orders, customer service, and managing social media.
Sometimes I lack time to create my own illustrations!
Any advice for beginners?
As an illustrator, social media is great but do not neglect to update an online portfolio on your personal website or at least on a notable platform such as Behance.
To run a shop, it’s nice to start little by little as it requires time and money. Invest in products you can sell quickly, then reinvest that money in more products.
Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?
Definitely comics! I Love Anouk Ricard, a French author that always writes absurd stories, and Cy, that I’ve followed since long ago when she used to publish online comics before publishing amazing books!
Florent Chavouet is one of my favorite author-illustrators who draws a lot about Japan with an incredible sense of details.