Enter the fantasy realm of Zeen Chin filled with Asian folk beliefs and characters entering from deep imagination.
I’m a self-taught artist. Although I did study graphic design and 3D animation for a short period and I didn’t graduate from any school. I started my job as a commercial illustrator, preparing storyboard and illustration for TV commercial and it only last 3 months. Then, I changed my job into 2d animator for 5 years. I always wanted to be an illustrator so, I practice a lot and built up my portfolio whenever I have time. This is how I got my ideal job as an illustrator. Recently, my main job is teaching and in the meantime I will take in some commission, mostly on video games as a freelancer.
Could you tell us about some of the interesting projects you’ve worked on?
I’m working on my second art book which is called “21”.
What software and tools do you use for your work, and why?
Photoshop, this is the only software I know 😀
How do you organize your day (how many hours do you work per day)?
I used to work 16 hours per day. But now I’m trying to balance my life and work after I got a child.
How important is working with reference for you? Do you have any tips on how to effectively organize an extensive reference library?
I think references are important in drawing. It helps me a lot when looking for references, as it gives me inspiration and ideas, especially the thing I haven’t drawn before. I don’t really organize my reference library, every time I want to look for a reference, I just google it.
Could you describe your general creative workflow/pipeline for us?
At first, I will think of content and theme for my artwork. Then, I will do mind mapping and try to get elements that I can use for my theme. Afterward, I will start with line art to get the correct composition and design. Next, I will design lighting and color to create a nice visual and atmosphere. Then, I start to polish the character until it gets a nice proportion and shape. Lastly, I will enrich the detail and make the entire atmosphere looks better.
Tell me about your techniques for overcoming creative blocks?
Observe and explore more while creativity came from our daily life and experiences.
What drill routine do you use to sharpen your skills?
Observe, practice and draw more whenever I have time.
Do you also create with non digital medium (clay, pencil drawing,…)? What does it gives you compared to digital?
Pencil and Ink drawing. The difference between digital and non-digital medium is there’s no undo button for the non-digital medium.
What themes would you say your work deals with?
Mostly from Asian folk beliefs.
What artwork are you most proud of?
As long as the artworks I have created, I like all of them.
Does industry offer enough opportunities for illustrators like you?
The game industry is pretty good now, it offer enough job opportunities for artist.
How do you define success as an artist?
I’m able to make a living while doing my hobby.
Which current art world trends are you following?
Not a specific trends, as long as it is beautiful I will study the artwork.
How do you collaborate with other artists?
I seldom collaborate with other artists, only collaborated once with artists in the book called “Milky Overload” art-book.
PROMOTION & FEEDBACK
Who provides you the most relevant feedback?
Everyone, from some of my artist friends and the comments from social media.
What social channels do you use for communication with your followers?
Usually Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have a network of other artists, and how do they support you?
Sometimes they provide job for me from the company they are working at.
Part of the creative process is also a failure, how do you deal with it?
It is truth that we always face failure but I will try to overcome it. Learn from the mistakes we make.
Do you have an existing customer base?
Nope, normally freelancer won’t fix in one customer or one job. We will need more customers to survive because not all customers will keep providing job to us. So, after I finished a job, I will take in a new job from new customer.
What factors influence the price of your work?
What art marketing activity do you put into practice regularly that works most successfully for you?
I’m not good in marketing. All I know is to post my artworks on social media.
How do you seek out opportunities?
By posting up my artwork in social media.
What’s the best advice you would give your younger self?
Keep practicing, practice make perfect.
If you mentored younger artists who are beginning their art careers what single most important piece of advice would you offer?
Prepare a good portfolio.
What invaluable art business lesson did you learn in the past year that took your career to the next level?
I’m not a businessman, I’m just an artist and what I will do is to keep make my art better 😀
What is the most common mistake your students make?
How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist?
Find another hobby beside drawing, because rest is important too.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
I can make my living with my hobby 😀