The Visual Identity of Verve Wine with Illustrator Ilyn Wong
Visual artist Ilyn Wong is the person behind the captivating illustrations that appear on the Verve Wine blog. She was born in Southern California and grew up in Taiwan (in a family that loves to eat and drink) and is now located in Berlin. She studied art and art history in New York, Amsterdam, and St. Louis. Ilyn has been part of the team since 2017, but her early experience in the wine world started with jobs at bars and restaurants throughout her twenties and early thirties. “After graduate school I tended bar for several years at I Sodi and Via Carota in the West Village, where I learned a lot about Italian wines,” says Ilyn.
It was here that she started her own path to wine education: “One of my responsibilities was to do research and type up wine notes for the rest of the staff.” She later managed an upscale luncheonette in Greenpoint, where her job included ordering (and tasting) a lot of fun, easy-drinking, pizza-friendly wines.
Curious about how an artist becomes a part of a wine brand? Ilyn tells her story here.
You, According to Hito Steyerl, 2018 – collage, paint, and ink on inkjet print By Ilyn Wong
Verve Wine: How do you go about creating illustrations for Verve Wine?
Ilyn Wong: I start an illustration by first doing some research about the wines mentioned in each blog post, and think about what kind of feeling they might elicit — if it's a "serious" wine or a fun wine, what time of year the blog post is being published in, what landscape the wines come from, what kind of visual information could potentially supplement the textual information, and so on. I actually love doing this part: it's a great way to learn about different places, wines, and techniques.
I then decide on "the scene." Some of them are pretty straight-forward, like blog posts about Thanksgiving wines would include a festive spread, or wines from a specific region might include a map or a landscape of the place. Others require a bit more creative thinking. One of my favorites, for example, was the "Myths about Rosé" post, which had me stuck for a bit in the brainstorming phrase, because how do you illustrate myths? I arrived at an illustration of two statues of Bacchus and Dionysus (figures of mythology from Antiquity), each holding a bottle of rosé. I thought it was a clever take on the subject matter.
I mostly just try to have fun with it while sticking to the visual identity of Verve Wine, and try to craft images that would prompt the readers to learn more.
'Breaking Down the Myths Around Rosé Wine' Blog Illustration By Ilyn Wong
VW: Tell us about your artistic practice outside of these projects for Verve Wine.
IW: As a visual artist, I work in a variety of mediums, including photography, painting, sculptures, video, and text. The choice of medium is often arrived at by the subject matter. I often think about bigger, discursive topics through my personal and familial life. Some of it is about my family's diasporic background and our relationship to language, and how that fits into bigger historical narratives.
More recently I have been drawn to making works that include some natural elements, like embedding grass seeds into sculptural pieces so that they sprout and then wither. This new body of work is a response to a personal loss but is also a way to think about our contemporary relationship to nature, and how the line between control and care can be rather fuzzy.
Book Of Ours, 2022 – oil paint on dog intelligence toy with bird seeds By Ilyn Wong
VW: Share with us a bit about your wine preferences.
IW: I spent half a year right after college living in Italy, and then later having worked at I Sodi, I developed a particular penchant for Italian wines. I love an elegant, earthy, food-friendly red with some floral notes and look to 'Cepparello' from Isole e Olena and the portfolio from Paolo Bea as satisfying favorites. Now that it's nearing summer, all I want to do is to sit outside with a glass of orange wine with some light tannins, a savory snack, and a good book.
Find Ilyn at ilynwong.com or on Instagram at @ilynw