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The ABC’s of Climbing

A BKB Interview with Illustrator Ming Lee

Summer is coming to an end soon, which means we’re getting stoked for cooler weather, fall adventures, and the release of some new BKB swag. To welcome the new season, we joined forces with Ming-Hsuan Lee, BKB member and multi-disciplinary designer and illustrator, to collaborate on one-of-a-kind designs for our fall retail. And, maybe we’re biased, but we think her climbing alphabet illustrations are nothing short of glorious (to see more of her work, check out her portfolio).

We quickly learned that, just like in climbing, Ming is the kind of illustrator who is always open to new artistic challenges and opportunities. So when we approached her about doing a retail collaboration, she took the challenge and ran with it—needless to say, we’re big fans of how it all turned out.

To learn more about Ming and her work, we sat down to chat and ask her a few questions. Check out our conversation below, and be sure to follow her on Instagram when you’re done. And for all our shopaholics: If you’re ready to snag some of her new BKB designs now, head over to our retail site.

Ming, thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions! First up: How did you get started with your art, and how long have you been at it?

I’ve been into painting and doodling since I was 5 years old and I realized that’s where my life’s passion is: art. I’ve spent more than 10 years in fine art training from junior high school and into college.

What influences your work and inspires you to get creative?

Nature, cities, people… even daily life will often inspire me and my work. I love to travel, try new things, and new challenges—and I will often get new sparks of inspiration through these kinds of adventures.

The more you go to BKB, the more you get the opportunity to form a bond with the community.

How did you get started climbing, and what brought you to BKB?

I went to a small outdoor bouldering gym with one of my friends, and I got really into it. I went to climb there every week up until the winter came (the outdoor gym closes during winter). After that I started going to BKB. The facilities are great, and there are two locations in New York City that I can always go to and try out different routes! The more you go to BKB, the more you get the opportunity to form a bond with the community. You see the same faces all the time, and you start making friends and talking about tips during climbing.

Your climbing alphabet artwork is now being featured on BKB retail, and we’re here for it. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind this idea?

The concept is about the transition from urban to natural life. So you can see the left B is a city scene, the middle K is a transition between nature and city, and the right K is a purely natural scene with a cliff and a rock climber. I believe most climbers love and enjoy nature and like the challenge of both indoor and outdoor climbing. BKB is a good place to be for climbers who don’t have access to natural climbing everyday here in the city. You can still go to BKB daily and enjoy the challenges and accomplishments of climbing.

Do you have any upcoming goals / plans for your artwork?

I work as a visual designer and art director, but doing illustrations is my passion and hobby! Someday I hope to get more illustration projects and make that my full time job.

Do you have any advice / insight for other artists out there working on their craft?

Don’t restrict yourself, just be free and keep trying and exploring.

And lastly… a BKB classic: What’s one weird fact about you?

I can watch cute animal-related posts on Instagram all day. 🙂

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