Ivan Tao creates art that shows imperfection of life and nature. One look at his work and I knew I had to put him in the Creative Spotlight! His art doesn’t try to show something perfect but rather something sad, lost, or mysterious. He is a lecturer that speaks about art to those who listen and shows his art to anyone who has eyes. With the support and aid from his parents, he has grown to be an artist to be reckoned with. I sit down with Ivan and chop it up about films, his technique, among other things. Scroll down to read the full interview…
Love your artwork, especially the Street Fighter print. Are you a big gamer?
Ivan: Thank you. Yes, I love Street fighter games a lot especially 2D. SF 3, as the graphic and style is nice and I enjoy the movement instead of the 3D version.
Explain your work as a tutor/lecturer, who is your audience and what kinds of things do you teach?
Ivan: I am a Lecturer of The One Academy a Malaysian local art college and i am in charge of lecturing in foundation subject Figure studies and Still life Drawing class. Besides this, i also in charge of tutoring in Major year subject Illustration & Entertainment Art which included Traditional Illustration foundation -acrylic on canvas, Advance Traditional Illustration- Mix-media, Concept Art development and Final year Conceptual Illustration.
Does Malaysia provide a good creative environment to receive inspiration to apply to your work?
Ivan: As a Malaysian, we are not able to feel the nature of four seasons, but it is great that the environment surrounding me is still connected a lot with mother nature. We’re still able to appreciate many beautiful islands and rain forest that make us connected back to mother nature and they are important and they always an inspiration in Art. I believe that art is always connect with nature especially when it comes to execution, nature weather, mood, textures, temperature is the best element for us to execute into color, textures, shape on the canvas. An artist that spends the whole day indoors and facing the monitor screen/canvas somehow will affect their art sense, as they couldn’t see the prettiness of the nature.
What kind of commission work do you do?
Ivan: For commission, I do a lot of Book illustration, Comic coloring, Storyboarding for Advertising, traditional or digital fine art painting.
As a concept artist, how do you feel about the trend of 3-D movies being churned out nowadays? It seems like the old-school art of storyboarding and hand drawn animation is out the door. Any feelings on this?
Ivan: Yes, 3D movies are getting stronger in market and it demands a lot. But for my personal point of view, hand drawn animation still have it own value in the market, 2D animation will never disappear as what the audience willing to pay for a animated movie is mostly a great story. Same thing happened to storyboarding, although we living in 3D “golden age“, but the market still needs the artists like us to draw the storyboard, no matter if it’s TVC shooting board, MTV or short films and even feature film, the only difference from the old time is we draw using of tablet instead of pencil. I’m very appreciative as long as the value is great no matter if it’s 3D or hand drawn animation.
Hypothetically speaking, if Ballistic Publishing gave you a job offer, would you be willing to relocate to Australia? How important is flexibility on a freelancers part?
Ivan: Definitely yes! As an artist, I always feel appreciation for organizations that put effort to support art either it is Publishers, online forums or blogs. Ballistic Publishing is the publishers that strongly support Digital art form, much appreciated.
Got any favorite Asian films or anime?
Ivan: My favorite Asian films will be “THE ASHES OF TIME”, Directed by Hong Kong Director Wang Jiawei, one of the pioneers of martial arts film which truly express the world of Chinese martial art myth. In the movie, I appreciate the philosophy about life and the appealing soundtrack which enhances the world of Chinese martial arts chivalry. Besides these, “sepet” is one of the amazing Malaysian local produced movie, as it reflected some issues that happened in my country in long term, but I am sorry for the loss of a great director, Yasmin Ahmad, it also lost a star in Malaysia film industry. For anime, I like works from studio 4c, as their style is fantastic and has impact in an artistic sense.
Switching from movies to music, what plays on your iTunes while you work?
Ivan: It’s depends. When I am exploring my own personal subjects, I may not listen to any music as it may affect my feeling while executing my creation. But when it comes to jobs and projects which already have a title and proper brief, I will listen to the songs from my iTunes in shuffle mode as it gives a refreshing and surprise that can help creativity input to the work. My personal favorites are Fever Ray, Edit, Rachael Yamagata, Sophie Zelmani, The Whitest Boy Alive, Ant, Zee Avi, Peterpan, The Rolling Stones! Nirvana, My Chemical Romance, Radiohead… …etc
When it comes to movies such as Black Swan, you said you watch the art, THEN the movie. This is an interesting approach to viewing a movie. Any other films strike a chord with you in that way?
Ivan: Ya, if the audience is willing to spend some times to observe, they will found out that Hollywood movies shooting is always following a so called “act structure” format, so it’s no more surprising to the audience anymore. People who always watch movies, the story will no longer be the main element to focus but it will be more interesting to capture the reason the director executed every single detail in sense of the composition and angle stuff (mise-en-scene), how the characters been play and how the character play the role. I love Watchmen a lot no matter the story, personality of characters, the angle, you will get different experience when you rewatch this movie, I appreciate the effort of the director Zack Snyder. Irreversible and Malena both staring Monica Bellucci is another film that gained my appreciation.
Can we expect a bigger storefront or an artbook from you in the future?
Ivan: My goal is to publish my own art book and to have a solo art exhibition in the future.
Lastly, any advice for freelancers who are just starting out and trying to balance client lists, finances, work, etc.
Ivan: Time management, because deadlines are king. Self discipline is one of the most important elements to bring an artist to the road of succeed. Therefore, a freelance artist needs to balance up the mind set whether the job is for money making or for satisfactions with lower pay, but for an artist’s responsibilities we have to produce the best job, always.
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