Connecting over Instagram, we’re deeply inspired by Qiyun’s work, especially in the sustainability space. Qiyun wears many hats – she’s a sustainability consultant, climate activist, artist and is currently building Climate Commons, a climate communications platform with interactive media elements.
While sustainability can seem like an overwhelming topic especially when we focus on the state of our planet and the constant doom and gloom surrounding climate change, we love how Qiyun has managed to make the topic a lot more accessible and easy to digest through her Instagram account (@theweirdandwild). The Weird and Wild is an intersection of creativity and sustainability, where her passion for art and sustainability meet.
When we conceived this collaboration to raise funds for Seven Clean Seas, it was a no-brainer that we had to reach out to Qiyun to create an original artwork. Learn more about Qiyun and her work below.
Hi Qiyun, tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m Qiyun and I’m the creator behind The Weird and Wild on Instagram and also a sustainability consultant at Unravel Carbon. But those things are just a part of my whole being. I see myself as an environmentalist, a creative, a dog mum, a lover of comic books and all things joyously colourful.
I'm passionate about the planet and the natural world. The Weird and Wild has been a platform for me to engage an audience on sustainability in a visual and creative way. The ultimate aim is really to make climate science accessible to all so that we can all be better advocates together.
Qiyun wears the Organic Cotton Romper
You have an expansive background in climate science and sustainability – what drew you to environmental studies?
I’ve always been interested in sustainability, with animal conservation being the greatest passion of mine at the tender age of 9 - my dream was to be an animal behavior expert haha. I think my whole life since then has been me getting involved in all sorts of environmental work just to find what suits me. I then graduated with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies in 2020. I think I empathise with the complexity of these issues and yet also appreciate the complexity of the way we are embedded in our natural world. My fascination with why the natural environment behaves the way it does probably is what keeps me going.
You’re also the human behind The Weird and Wild – what inspired you to create this platform and start doodling?
Yes I am that human! I started this account in late 2018 when I was an Environmental Studies undergraduate. At that time, sustainability was starting to gain ground but resources on things like reusable products, sustainable materials, what can be recycled, etc that was suitable for Singapore’s context were not the easiest to find. However, as someone who’s been involved in the local environmental community for a while, I knew where those solutions can be located and I thought, why not just create a platform that consolidates these things for interested folks to reduce the barrier to begin their sustainability journey?
I toyed with the ideas of a Facebook page, blog but ultimately landed on Instagram mainly because I got an iPad at that time and was doodling leisurely and IG is perfect for visuals. I was learning a lot of cool things in my undergraduate course and met a lot of passionate environmentalists locally and regionally and eventually my page became a platform for me to also translate all the good science and jargon to a wider audience.
My work has also evolved into so many other mediums - I’m building an interactive site and getting a podcast up and running soon!
Qiyun wears the Cross Back Top and With Ease Shorts.
What do you draw inspiration from when creating your illustrations?
I draw a lot of inspiration from environmental themed graphic novels targeted at older children or young adults. I say this because their end goal is similar to mine, to do storytelling in a way that communicates science that is readable to someone that young with minimal science foundation.
Besides that, I also draw a lot of inspiration from conversations with friends who work in the space. I'm constantly inspired by their drive, their points of view, their love that we never run out of things to ideate and talk about.
Thank you for creating this beautiful artwork and helping us to raise funds that will go to cleaning up our marine environment. Why is environmental conservation important to you?
It's important to me because the natural environment forms the basis of life. Not just in terms of necessity, but it brings us so much joy, awe, wonder. It pains me that the status quo is not to conserve, such that we have to be extra active to make sure things are conserved.
What was the inspiration behind the illustration?
When I thought about the illustration, I thought about the wonderful people and events in my life that have inspired me to love the ocean. In it you'll find certain motifs:
> Seagrass - I met Dr Siti (from Project Seagrass) whose energy, fire and love for seagrass is admirable.
> Nudibranchs - I looooove these sea slugs ever since I got my hands on this Asian Geographic magazine that just introduced me to the world of these creatures.
> Litter picker - I'm so grateful to be doing beach cleanups with a bunch of amazing environmentalists. It's work I wish we didn't have to do, but I'm glad we do it together.
> Giant clam and Corals - Dr Neo Mei Lin and Sam Shuqin are amazing women in science researching and advocating for marine conservation. I'm in awe of the work they do.
> Pond skater - this goes out to my friends who do work conserving reptiles, amphibians and bugs. They might be less charismatic creatures, but their love for these creatures keeps me going.
Let’s talk a bit about fashion – what are some of your everyday go-to pieces?
Frankly, I'm still slowly building that up. But as of right now, I do have a few bright pairs of bottoms that I reach for very often. Think bright green, bright yellow and bright blue!
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
After doing a wardrobe audit with The Fashion Pulpit, I realize that I do have a few go-to pieces but that it's so sad that my entire wardrobe is not fully utilized to be constant go-tos. It just showed me how much clothing I was accumulating and how my consumption patterns weren't the most intentional. Sustainable fashion to me is about less, making do with less and also having a relationship with fashion in ways that are less impactful.
Qiyun wears the Cross Back Top and With Ease Shorts
How do you stay comfortable while you’re out and about in nature?
Gosh - I love brands that think about the fact that we live in the damn tropics! So linen clothes, flowy breathable clothes that don't stain when I sweat. I stay comfortable in nature by dressing in a way that allows me to brave the heat, humidity, rain and mud that nature has to offer.
Proceeds raised from the sale of each art tote will be donated to Seven Clean Seas to help remove plastic from our marine environment.
Photos by Xinning of Alone Together.