1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m from Toronto. I’m the son of two immigrant parents from China and Ireland and I’m also gay = queer person of colour so anyone reading this should hire me if possible and also if the pay is good.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
It has taken dressing in pastels (including hair) for 6 years for someone to f i n a l l y ask me about this. jklolXD:P “My aesthetic” is characterized by my two strengths as an artist which are A) capturing gesture (in figures and in my brush handling in painting) and B) my ability in colour design, particularly in conveying mood/lighting in varying degrees of stylization from realistic to graphic. I am obsessed with colour and one of my dreams is to be acknowledged by Pantone. I’ll also mention the fact that in general my work tends to have a peaceful or melancholic mood, conveyed in the posing and expressions (or lack thereof?) of my characters. With that said, I also like doing comedy stuff which you can see especially in my comics as well as in a few of my animated shorts.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I suppose my favourite medium is watercolour/gouache (heavily diluted so it’s basically watercolour again) probably just because its the colour medium I have the most experience with. I feel super confident using watercolour and the process of painting is both relaxing and energizing to me. Watercolour, unlike digital painting, is intrinsically beautiful. I also like that watercolour is highly prone to “happy accidents” with how the colours bleed together and dry in beautiful patterns and textures.
4. What is your artistic process like?
It depends on the project. #Goals for me in my work is to draw or paint the image once, ‘perfectly imperfectly’, true to intention. ‘First thought best thought’ style. For that reason I very rarely work in pencil because I hate falling into a spiral of drawing, erasing, redrawing, getting frustrated that the drawing is getting worse and not better. I get enough of that when I animate digitally. Maybe because making animated shorts is so unbelievably tedious, even when you take hella shortcuts, I like to do my illustrations and comics as immediately as possible without too much planning or thumbnailing.
In general, I am always trying to make my process as efficient as possible which is why I have been drawing almost exclusively in pen for the past 8 years.
At it’s most laborious (i.e. when I’m making an animated short) my process is -writing, thumbnails, some concept paintings/styleframes to design the layout/style (I like to do this part traditionally and then adapt the style digitally), storyboards (these fast and functional drawings require a lot of focus because there is so much problem solving involved and you have to think about several drawings at once because you are plotting the continuity) and finally, animation (for me this means inbetweening or polishing drawings from boards).
It feels worth mentioning that I’m one to do many drawings over and over of the same thing with variations as oppose to slaving over one drawing that I keep erasing bits of here and there and redrawing because I like to have a record of several attempts that I can look at later with fresh eyes and see which is the best design. This is a practice I really believe in and very much feels like a part of my personal process.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Writing-wise I’m mostly inspired by my life. By funny things people say around me or by sad feelings that I keep somewhat hidden inside playing on infinite-loop in my head. I never read books and I feel like an idiot for that, it’s something I want to work on. I’m sure if I read great books it would help me develop as a writer and this interview would be witty and stuff.
Style-wise I’ve had an hcore art-crush on Louis Fratino for about a year and a half now. My friend once described his work as “Homoerotic Picasso” which is not wrong. In terms of drawing ability and “branding”, Jillian Tamaki is like a kind-of deity. Let’s just acknowledge that she is the best illustrator and the biz and get it over with. Onto branding. She is the queen of branding because she can work in any medium, draw any subject matter and somehow, it’s all cohesive, all authentically “her”. I feel like there is something spiritual about that and I’m into it.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art plays a really big role in my life because I have been drawing almost every day since I was about 16. I’d say when I first started taking drawing seriously I wanted to be able to draw everything. I drew from life a lot and it literally changed the way I saw people and my environment as I became more analytical about how I would effectively simplify and stylise a pose, a person’s likeness, lighting and my environment. Now I’m more focused on being able to tell stories effectively, that is to say, I’m more focused on writing and storyboards. I find myself thinking a lot about how to stylize stories from my life for an audience.
7. Where did you study?
Sheridan College in Oakville
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m really happy about the work I’m doing now so if I continue to get contracts like I’ve been getting lately I’ll be happy. I also have a dream of working in live-action as a writer, actor and director. I also want to learn how to sew and make music.
9. What about in ten?
Writing, acting in and directing a live action feature film. I have this dream of co-directing a live action movie that has animated dream/memory/fantasy sequences.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I think like a lot of people I want other people to see it and relate to it, and love it! Especially when it’s not funny, when it’s something more vulnerable, for me and the viewer. I also just want to make really beautiful work. Work that is as beautiful and impressive as the work that captures, captivates and somehow breaks my heart.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I go through weird obsessive food phases. Right now because of some serious health issues I am on one of those annoying-to-listen-about elimination diets and I’m lying in bed thinking about the delicious pizza that is sold mere steps away from my apartment in a trendy Toronto neighbourhood. Is pizza my fav food tho? I was pretty obsessed with bibimbap over the past year too.
12. Favourite book?
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
13. Favourite genre of music?
14. What are your hobbies?
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I would love to be an actor even though actors are notorious for having horrible personalities but as an asian man it would be political so there.
I would also love to be a model but I’m not tall or white so already it’s like 😐