1. Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I am from Hong Kong and didn't become a full-time illustrator until I graduated from RISD in 2010. However, I started drawing since I was a kid; my parents were very busy and I would tell stories with my drawings to keep myself entertained.
2. How has moving from Hong Kong, to Providence to attend RISD, affected your way of thinking about making art?
RISD is awesome, I learnt a lot and have met some of the most influential people there_including my teacher Chris Buzelli . Chris reminded me why I like to draw in the first place when I was overwhelmed by grades and competitions . He also pointed out to me that" style is merely one's habit of drawing, everyone is born with a unique style as everyone is born unique". This helped me to be honest with myself and eventually found my own voice. Being away from home/parent's protection and the insanely high RISD tuition also motivate/haunt me to work my butt off.
3.What are the biggest difficulties of being a female illustrator from HK living in New York, and what are it’s advantages from not being born and bred here?
It's interesting that you emphasize "female" in your question. I have always been referred as "he/him" on blogs maybe because of my confusing name-"Victo", but I actually kind of enjoy the androgeness . Being a foreigner can be hard sometimes when it comes to socializing- not understanding cultural references and American slangs make it difficult to carry on conversations. I also have made many stupid mistakes because of language barrier. I once got a phone call asking me to do a full page and 3 quarter pages and I misunderstood it as one full page and one 3/4 page...
Advantage- I think the fuel of creativity often comes from our personal experiences. So having an international background and experience of living in different cultures definitely helps when it comes to finding inspirations.
4. Every time I look, I see that your illustrating for someone new, somewhere. Is there a particular method of promotion that you prefer over another that has helped you get work?
I think the new media, especially blogs, has helped me a lot to get my works out there. I e-mailed a few major blogs about my work when I graduated and they were kind enough to feature them. Then a lot of reblogging happened and everything kind of snow-balled from there.Through the power of internet, I was contacted for gallery shows, magazine interview and jobs from places and people I had never heard of and therefore wouldn't have reached on my own. I think it's important to keep it a two-way street -mailers and other promotional materials are great for reaching people but it's even better if people are able to discover you and come to you. For the same reason, I think getting into annuals and competitions is also a wonderful promotion.
5. Are you interested in animating your work?
For sure! I love animations and have thought about being an animator at some point. Actually, I have a little animation on my site.
6. How would you define a good illustration?
Well thought out ( communicate an idea clearly and creatively ) , well executed ( solid composition, intriguing style and characters .etc ) and hopefully thought-provoking.
7. Why do you work in a hybrid of making things, scanning them in, and changing them digitally?
The hybrid enables me to achieve the hand-made organic look I like while still enjoy the beauty of digital. Digital is great as it enables me to combine materials previously made with various media which are traditionally "incompatible". It also lets me work backward thanks to the layer function-i.e. have my line work done before working out the colors and value but can still have the line on top of everything in the final illustration.
8. What are you up to when your not illustrating? Do you find it important to take a break?
Just chill and enjoy life, I especially like to eat and travel! I think It's very important to take breaks for both the body and mind. Body- freelance illustration is a pretty high-stress job and since you are your own boss, it's very easy to overwork and compromise health if "breaks" are not planned into the schedule. I have learned that in the past 1 year with big prices paid. Mind- it's essential to take breaks to recharge and refresh, otherwise it's easy to run out of steam if there's only output but no input.
9. What’s your goals for 2011?
Get back at reading and exercising; travel to at least one new place; get better with using greys and subtle colors; work for new clients.
10. Any Advice for the young guns just getting out of school?
Not just work really really really hard, but work really really really hard at the right things at the right time. For example,concentrate on building a strong portfolio before being bothered and distracted with promotions.
11. Any advice for the old guys?
I don't think I am in the position to give them any advice. But I guess if I had been doing illustration for a while, I would like to remind myself from time to time why I started drawing in the first place, so illustration won't turn into a mundane job. Maybe also change things up a bit every once in a while to keep things fresh and interesting for myself?
12. Final Word?
Thank you very much Fish! I haven't typed so much since I did that Art History paper about Islamic architecture in senior year. :)
All work is under ©opyright of Victo Ngai
You can find more of her work: Victo-Ngai.com