Here is the latest issue of Funswant magazine. Just got two copies in the mail the other day. Funswant is an art and culture magazine out of Taiwan. I have two spreads in the issue and an interview. Here's a couple pictures and the translated interview.
Please introduce your background with art.
Art was always the one thing I had a strong interest in, ever since I was a kid. Growing up, I did some sports, played some instruments, and did other activities that most parents want their kids to do so they will be well-rounded individuals. However, those things eventually all fell by the wayside. Art was the one thing where my passion seemed to increase as I got older. I had a few art classes I can remember doing outside of school in elementary and middle school where I learned the basics of ceramics, watercolor and that sort of thing. They were pretty much classes designed to get young kids interested in art, but there wasn’t a whole lot of instruction. In high school I started doing a good amount of my own work outside of school, and by the time senior year came I had a portfolio ready to apply to an art college. I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005 with a bachelors degree in illustration. My love of picture books as a child definitely had something to do with choosing illustration as a major.
How did you know that you liked to draw and make it as your career?
Because art was my main interest up until college, it just made sense to pursue it as a career. I feel very fortunate that my career path has been so clear. I knew many people who struggled with trying to figure out what they wanted to do in life, or where their passion was, but that was never an issue for me. When something makes you happy, it’s hard to ignore that feeling. You just know when something is a good fit for you and when you should follow your intuition about certain life decisions.
How do you imagine so many interesting subjects and then create them? What are you expressing through your work? (I DO LOVE your fine art work!!!)
I think many people have this notion that artists always have their heads overflowing with wonderful, brilliant ideas. As much as I wish this were true for me, it’s not. I like to brainstorm, but I try not to force the creation of new ideas too much. It’s something that happens best naturally. The only thing is, you don’t know when it will happen, so there can be times when creative droughts occur. I actually find that ideas flow best when I am calm and relaxed. When I am in bed about to fall asleep, or in the shower, or on a walk: these are the times those little sparks of creativity occur for me. I would also say that creativity comes in waves. It may take a little while to develop a concept or visual language, but once you do, the ball is rolling and you can coast on that for a while. One idea leads to the next, like a stream of consciousness expressed on paper. I think that mood is very important to my work. I want my art to evoke feelings that everyone can relate to in one way or another, whether it’s a feeling you remember from childhood or as an adult. I don’t want people to feel they must completely understand the personal symbology that I incorporate into my art, in order to appreciate it. I believe that art is truly a personal thing to both the creator and the viewer. If we all looked at things the same way, the world would be awfully boring.
Do you follow your instincts when you draw?
I definitely try to. It’s easy to get caught up in over-analyzing something you’re working on to the point where you start to doubt your decisions. That is never a good thing for me. If I start to doubt myself too much, that lack of confidence will begin to show in the work itself. You just have to trust your gut and not worry too much about failure. I think everyone worries about that, but the thing to remember is if you fail, at least you will have learned something in the process.
What are your tools for work and how do you define your style?
For the past year I have mainly been working with India ink on paper. I enjoy drawing on old book pages, sheet music, or any paper surface that has an aged quality to it. I use dip pens with nibs and small brushes for ink washes. Lately, I have been expanding my range of mediums to include graphite, watercolor and collage as well. I really don’t like to put artwork being made these days into stylistic categories. I think it causes people to have preconceptions about the work, and hinders their initial impression of it. It’s also just kind of difficult describing your own work. I think it’s much easier to describe the work of someone else.
Who inspires you? Other artist or designers you admire?
I think just the idea of creating something that doesn’t yet exist in the world is one of my biggest inspirations. Playing the role of creator in a world that I’ve brought to life on paper is extremely rewarding for me. Literature is a great influence in my work as well. Fairy tales, folk tales, and mythology have been strong influences in my work. I have so much admiration for illustrators such as William Blake, Mary Blair, Edward Gorey, Gustaf Tenggren, Kay Nielsen, Eyvind Earle, and Charley Harper. I also really love the work of surrealists such as Max Ernst and Giorgio De Chirico. I’m completely fascinated by the extreme detail found in Medieval and Renaissance art (particularly illuminated manuscripts), early Netherlandish painting, as well as Persian and Indian painting.
As a creator, what's the most important thing you think that a creator should always keep in mind?
Be true to your own vision.
What’s your hobby?
I love watching cooking shows and enjoy cooking for family and friends. I also like watching a large variety of movies. Some of my favorites include Fantastic Planet, Nobody Knows, Onibaba, Woman in the Dunes, The Ice Storm, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Jan Svankmajer’s Alice.
What would you do if you changed your career?
I think a career in film editing and cinematography would be interesting.
How do you spend a day?
I usually get up around 9:30, eat breakfast, drink some tea or coffee while checking my email, start on some art, break for lunch, and work some more until dinner. Sometimes I do my work in the evening and go to bed late. It all really depends on how involved with something I am at the moment. I also try to go for a walk outside at some point during the day.
What's your next plan?
Things are actually pretty busy at the moment, which is a good thing. Aside from constantly working on new artwork, I’m always thinking about new projects. I recently finished making my first zine, and am brainstorming ideas for my next one. I’m always on the lookout for exhibitions to submit work to, and new ways to network. Networking is always a challenge for me, but it’s something I think I’m slowly getting better at. I’ve been trading artwork with other artists lately too, which is always fun and a good way to connect with other creative people. A lot of the artwork I’m doing right now is sort of a stepping stone to getting myself to start painting. It’s not something I have done a whole lot of before, but I want to become as comfortable with it as I am with other mediums, such as ink. So I’m slowly trying to expand my range of mediums and lean towards using more color in my work. I don’t want to be limited to just black and white forever. Also, I recently released my first artist prints which are available through a website called Society6, and I expect to release more in the near future.
Lastly, could you give some suggestions for the freshman in illustration?
I guess I would say three things. First, be persistent if you want to get work. You have to do everything in your power to promote your work in order to get work. Illustration is a very competitive field. Second, be patient. Don’t expect success overnight. I think I was kind of naïve after I graduated college in my idea of what it would take to get noticed. I was a bit discouraged by the lack of responses I got from potential clients, but I later realized that things don’t always pay off immediately. You never know who is holding onto your self-promotion pieces, just waiting to hire you. Don’t take the initial lack of response as a “no.” And third, I would advise people going into illustration to try and expand their knowledge to include some graphic design, as the line between graphic design and illustration seems to become more and more blurred these days.