About me Inspiration Working process Personal style Taking risk Targets and career plan Links
Observer and Illustrator: With an expectation to find something unusual and unique, I enjoy being an observer in nature, markets, people and books, seeing things and discovering their hidden parts. Enthusiasm to visualize the unknown make me an illustrator. I often try to reinterpret my observation, redesigning the outlook and spatial existence of different things and uncovering their visual potential on paper. To me, illustration is an excellent way to visualize dreamy and crazy stories. I am an illustrator who regards drawing as a journey of exploration and is interested in making wonderfully dense images to tell fantasy stories.
Inspiration: When I decided to work in the creative industry, I understand I have to keep my eyes open all the time and see how my artistic intuition react with the outside world. To me, nature is always inspirational . Viewers can often find weird plants, odd animals and botanical patterns in my illustrations. I watched many documentary films about animals in Amazon and Africa and visited zoos when I was a kid. Since childhood, nature to me is a mixture of subtle beauty and mysterious decay. Apart from romantic blossoms, cute birds and magnificent landscape, nature is also visually powerful because of its inexhaustible details, overwhelming changes and inevitable decline. I enjoy drawing reference from nature to design patterns, characters and create special colour palette.
Flowers, birds, frogs, and fish are often parts of my scene design. In my graduation project, I arrange these elements from natural world in a way which neglect their original proportions and conventional meaning, creating a sureal atmosphere. Also, previous study in Phenomenology aroused my interest in visualizing words. Philosophical and Psychological ideas are too intriguing to be neglected. Philosophers and psychologists often show me a different way to understand objects, people and their relation to the outside world. In particular, theories about loneliness, body and space inspired me to create more peculiar characters and design unusual layouts. I am still learning how to convey complex idea through understandable images. As an illustrator, I am eager to explore obscure concepts, draw something meaningful to attract the viewers and keep them highly motivated. The balance between recondite personal ideas and comprehensible visual outcome is a new challenge for me. Besides, I believe both outstanding self-initiated illustrations and successful commercial projects rely on the creatorâ€™s exciting life. As a traveller, I like getting inspired on the journey.
By seeing exotic objects, meeting new people and adapting to a new culture, I could refresh my mind and become more open minded to take a visual adventure. Antique shop is my most favourite destination in an unfamiliar place. It is pleasant to walk in the shop as a treasure hunter, guessing the story about every exquisite handcraft. The colours, shapes and patterns of old art objects are all worthwhile to be recorded in my sketchbook. Many of my uncanny character designs are inspired by visits in antique shops.
Personal work by Artaksiniya
Besides, I am eager to draw lessons from successful illustrators. Artworks by James Jean offer me a new horizon in visualizing fantasy world, inspiring me to bring new vigor and vitality into traditional painting skills by adding unique personal symbols. Thanks to his enlightenment, I began to free my mind in designing characters which wear strange head decorations or unusual garments.I also learn a lot from Mayumi Otero, an outstanding illustrator who creates extraordinary screen printings and pop-up books. Her self pubishing books inspire me to rethink different ways in visualizing stories. To me, her
All the colours of the dard by Alexis Anne Mackenzie
Procession by James Jean
way in visualizing a story is highly efective because her illustrations provide various viewing points, attracting the audiences with unique spatial organization and cleverly overlaying vector shapes and stylist brushes. Her artistic practice enlightens me on layer design and colour matching. Finally, I also get inspired in a weird way. Sometimes when I see a tiny blur image, I could see its potential to be developed into a completely different illustration. My brain is sensitive to the vague layout and colour blending in a really small image. With an attempt to train my artistic intuition, I enjoy having small pictures enlarged and add the details I â€œseeâ€?, making some brand new illustrations.
Installation art by Natalie Djurberg
My working process Most image makers create artwork with their own rules, my rule is to create something different and beautiful. Developing a series of narrative illustrations is a long journey, instead of creating continuous images and put them together as a graphic novel, I like to choose key moments in a story and develop some sketches. Without the restrictions to make chronological images, I enjoy more freedom to unleash imagination to distill surreal beauty into concrete moments of fantasy. Believing illustration to be storytelling, I am eager to explore narrative illustration and push the boundary of â€œdrawingâ€? stories. I am captivated by fantasy topics, in most cases, my story books contain a series of images and only a few words, leaving enough space for the audience to discover the plots mainly through drawings. I enjoy blending bright colourful patterns with realistic portraits as to reveal the charactersâ€™ personality or emotion. As to the drawing approach, I like mixing different painting materials such as colour pencils, acrylic, watercolour, ball point pens and ink, creating psychedelic and uncanny atmosphere.
I also begin to edit my illustrations with software such as Corel Painter, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, highlighting strong contrast and subtle details. Although I find computer is really helpful in editing, I am not going to rely totally on computer to create illustrations.
“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Pablo Ruiz Picasso
Personal style I totally agree with John Fosterâ€™s idea that â€œyour brain is what your clients are truly paying for and what offers unique qualities found nowhere else.â€? Having a unique style is vital for all illustrators to survive. I have been trying hard to define what is a right direction for myself. Thanks to the internet, getting access to updated art critiques and knowing the mainstream illustrating style are no longer difficult. Many edgy images are available online and it is easy to get overwhelmed and change your original idea after seeing those masterpieces. There has been a hot debate about the prospect of creative industry, some designers and critics believe diversity is the future while others argue for homogenization. No matter what the future is, having a recognizable style is essential for most illustrators. After an internship in a greeting card companion and a two-year study in art school, I gradually understand it is advisable to keep doing what I am really interested in and be honest in making images. Only when an image is desirable to its creator can it be attractive to other people. Undeniably, personal style is the identity card for an illustrator in a creative world.
Different creative minds discover different aesthetic surprises and reinterpret them in various ways, thus developing his own style. In my opinion, style is more than the habit of drawing, it reflects both the born creative talent and thinking logic of a designer. Following intuition may result in unique personal style, some tutors may suggest students to be self-indulgent and fully cultivate the wildest imagination in their mind so as to create something different and outstanding. However, on the other hand, teachers will also emphasize the importance of effective interaction between designers and audiences. It is inevitable for commercial illustrators to develop their style in a process of adapting to the commission briefs. I would say my style is dark romantic and fantasy, showing my great interest in the unknown and mysterious myths as well as Parallel Universes Theory.
Further development When naive style becomes more and more popular, realistic painting approach and natural brush stoke may be regarded as less modern. During the two-year illustration course, I gradually developed my illustrating skills and style. Through tutorials and peer learning activities, I realized realistic painting approach can no longer satisfy me, it is time to rethink a new way to create rich illustrations. In my graduation project, the first thing I challenged myself is to adopt a new layout method. Elements in the scene design are not necessary to depict a normal physical place with which the audiences are familiar. The way in which they are arranged could be similar to collage. In new scene designs, vibrant red and pink as well as distorted proportion celebrate the magic disorder of imagination. The second breakthrough I tried to make is character design. While I am still captivated by details, I intended to add some personal symbols in my illustrations to make them look more â€œcontemporaryâ€?.
â€œCreativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.â€? Erich Fromm
Taking risks Being safe in a competitive creative world may also mean being average. I remember a remarkable idea in a book---if you create something that no one hates, then no one will like. In school, helpful suggestions from tutors are often guidances for me to push the boundary of my illustrating practice, as a student, I feel free to do experiment, to practice something I am not good at and to try new modes of creativity. However, when being a professional illustrator, more consideration should be taken. I understand new commission offered by clients is always based on an illustratorâ€™s previous works, it seems unwise for the creator to do experiment in an unfamiliar way for their clients. The risk I am talking about here is to keep on working although being unsure about the final outcome. Different commissions have different briefs, I have to adapt myself to commercial requirements. For more than once I felt my working style can not satisfy my clients, and I tried to change my style into a completely different one by overusing bright colour and vector shapes.
The result was frustrated since the client wanted me to remain my own style. When redoing the illusration, I mixed detailed pencil painting with abstract vector geometry figures, and polish the whole illustration in light colour. Although I was not very sure about the final result, the outcome was satisfactory to my clients and further commission may be on their way. Furthermore, sustaining learning is important in self-development. In order to feed my professional practice, I will continue to learn through reading, researching and working. Postgraduate study would be a good beginning of freelance life to me and prepare myself better in risk assessment. On one hand, I could continue to do experiment especially through peer learning acitivities, on the other hand, I could get advice from tutors to improve me researching and drawing skills as a freelance illustrator.
Targets and career plan.
Choosing illustration as my career, I am ready to take challenges. After reading many interviews about successful illustrators, I understand that taking illustration as a serious career or even as a lifestyle may never be easy. Nowadays, it could be expensive for people to do something they are truly interested in. In my opinion, when simple, clean and contemporary vector images become more and more popular while I still incline to hand drawing, freelance life may not start as good as I expected. However, I begin to enjoy the freedom to draw and edit with computer and I believe I could learn to balance hand drawing and digital approach step by step.
Greeting card and pattern design. To begin with, since I have working experience in designing gift wraps , notebooks and greeting cards, I will endeavor to get commissions in these fields, expanding my practice as a professional illustrator.
Fashion and collaboration.
Moreover, during the two year stay in college, I gained experience in working with students from fashion and photograph courses. After these wonderful collaborations, I look forward to working with talents from fashion industry. My practice may vary from pattern design on garments to illustrations printed on jewelleries or scarfs. James Jeanâ€™ collaborations with Prada and Philip Lim are big encouragement for me to work harder. Creating patterns and decoration illustrations for fashion industry is what I will focus on after graduation.
Design by Shawn Yang
Design by Shawn Yang
Advertising and narrative illustrations Advertising and narrative illustration would be two most important parts in my future career plan. To begin with, I will try to take part in advertising campaign including creating illustrations for promotion materials (posters, limited edition card and calendar) as well as packages. There are many examples which indicate illustration rather than photograph is visually exciting and effectively promoting the relevant product. Besides, I am eager to share my fantasy stories with other through a series of narrative illustrations. I intend to publish more pictuture books in the future.
Time to promote myself Targeting the potential clients is a crucial part of my professional practice. I have been researching and selecting some pubishing houses and creative companies to contact with and promote my illustrations. I have made some small picture books to send to publishers such as Picturebox. Besides, I will take the initiative to contact companies such as Paperblanks to gain potential commissions in notebook design.
I will always be prepared to change. Frankly speaking, making changes to me does not mean denying my present style and working process, rather, it means to work with new materials, research new objects and solve visual problems in more creative ways. In short, change here means experiment and learning.
CV EDUCATION 09/2007-06/2011 Philosophy 09/2011-06/2013 Illustration
Huazhong University of Science and Technology Arts University Bournemouth
WORK EXPERIENCE The design Department of Vep Co. ltd. Title: Greeting Card Designer 06/2009-09/2009 -design greeting card, gift bags, gift paper -design a cover of the brochure for the company -assist the art director to prepare the stationary show in Hong Kong AIESEC Video making internship in Bulgaria 07/2010-08/2010 -travel around Bulgaria and take photos of the landscape and local people -create illustrations for the video HONORS 2012 Merit of 3x3 Student Illustration Show No.9 EXHIBITION 2013 Words and Pictures exhibition, Bournemouth International Center. 2012 Equinox exhibition, Cafe Boscanova. Boscombe. 2011 Tropic, Cafe Boscanova. Boscombe.
GUANGZHOU &HONG KONG