I was happily surprised to get an email from the editor of DPI Magazine, a Taiwanese art and design monthly, who was interested in interviewing me for the September issue. They published the interview along with several interior illustrations and also featured one of my illustrations on the cover! I look forward to getting my mitts on a printed copy (they aren’t sold in the US). *Added bonus: Chris Ware is in it too! (One of my favorites).
For those interested, here’s the interview:
Sometimes you illustrate the ordinary scenes in daily life, but sometimes the works are really surreal and filled with imaginations. Where are the inspirations from? What will inspire you to create in daily life?
I can usually find inspiration for illustrations anywhere (and usually when I’m not looking) in nature, old photographs, walks in the city, music, poems, stories, and from influential artists – past and present. Sometimes spending an afternoon coloring with my 5 year old nephew Julian is enough to spark a handful of ideas.
Since most of my illustrations are meant to accompany text, I usually start by generating ideas and inspiration from the story or article and see where I can go from there. Mostly I am inspired by exploring and illustrating human emotion and interaction because it’s something that everyone can relate to.
What’s the material you prefer to use when creating? Further, what’s the material attractive to you?
I work traditionally and digitally using both watercolor and digital techniques. By combining these mediums, I’m able to maintain the beautiful nuances and imperfections of watercolor, while incorporating the endless possibilities of digital techniques. Oftentimes I will create a grayscale ink wash, bring it into Photoshop, and color the illustration digitally. I consider myself to be more of a drawer than a painter, so being able to speed up the coloring phase saves me valuable time. Many artists work this way, including illustrator Yuko Shimizu, who has been a great influence on my work.
What do you concern the most when you illustrate?
When I’m working on an illustration, my main focus is communicating an idea in a unique and relatable way whether it’s through humor or melancholy. I create my illustrations in the hopes that they will engage people to stop, smile, and think about situations in new ways. Like most artists, I pour so much of myself in my work, it’s a natural occurrence. So, even though I can sometimes see myself reflected in my illustrations, they are never intended to be personal. In addition to concept, I also focus on maintaining a consistent style that is personal and unique.
We found your works to be very humor. Would you please talk about the work “It’s knot funny”? What’s this work about and what’s the message it convey?
This was a self promotional piece intended to be used as a postcard mailer. I have to admit this illustration came to life by accident. It was one of those little sketches you create while you’re not paying attention until you revisit it later and realize it could be an interesting concept worth exploring.
You could interpret this illustration in a few different ways. I initially created this image as an alternate way to express the notion of feeling stuck in a situation. When you’re tied up in a situation with nothing to do, forces are against you and all you can do is wait. You could also take from this illustration, the challenge of being so connected, or tied up in emotion, to someone but not being able to communicate with them.
Also another work, “swan dive”, how about this work? What’s it for and what’s the story of the swan women? Also, when you illustrate, do you have stories first in your mind before you draw?
“Swan Dive” is another promotional mailer I sent out to various publishers and art directors. The image was created to express the idea of confronting change. It’s the moment before the jump, or a leap of faith.
Sometimes I will have a story in mind before I start sketching, but this illustration was inspired by an old photograph I found from the 1940’s which showed a group of ladies at the pool in their swimsuits. It would appear that this was the first time they had been out in public in their swimsuits, and among the sea of women, a few ladies stood with their arms wrapped around themselves in complete uncertainty. I wanted to capture that moment of uncertainty and apply it to the general idea of change. The illustration is also a play on the words swan dive and features the hybrid women in a surreal and dreamlike environment.
Coincidentally (or unintentionally) during this time I was bracing myself for my own life change as I decided to switch gears and commit myself fully to the field of illustration. Everybody has been up on that diving board at some point in their lives, and I think we can all agree, it’s an exciting and terrifying place to be!
Which work is the most impressed or the best satisfied for you and why?
“The Virgin Suicides” is a memorable piece for me because it was one of the first poster illustrations I created that included the challenge of incorporating typography. It also allowed me the opportunity to experiment with blending my watercolor technique with digital color and textures. I’ve been fortunate enough to have this poster featured in Applied Arts Magazine, American Illustration, and the SCADDY’s advertising awards competition in Savannah, GA. Also, I just really like the book and film.
What would you be if not being an illustrator or artist? Also, what the art had brought to you so far?
I know this is random, but as a kid I became fascinated with the idea of becoming a cake decorator. Maybe it’s the fact that I love sugar, or the fact that cake decorators get to be creative at work, but whenever I went to the grocery store with my mom, I would spend a considerable amount of time staring through the bakery window watching the bakers put on every detail. I cannot however, decorate a cake or pie to save my life.
Even though illustration is such a challenging and competitive field, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. It’s taught me to see things in unique ways, to observe situations and people differently, and to reinterpret how we interact with each other and express ourselves.
Would you please share your philosophy of art with us?
For me art is a means of visual communication, a way to communicate an idea through witty concept and creative imagery. Illustration provides a wonderful, continual challenge to create something that is engaging, entertaining, and brought to life by a voice and style that is truly your own. Illustration is a competitive field, that’s for sure, but I find it helps to stay connected in the illustration community through sites such as Illustration Mundo and Escape From Illustration Island, to name a few. Most importantly art should be fun and enjoyed with cupcakes.