You would think that most artists would be a bit quirky, yet most of the interviewee’s featured seem to be ‘normal’. I’m switching things up and featuring the zany Jeannie Phan. She is an illustrator based in Toronto with a keen interest in the micro-kingdom and the physiology of the human body all which she sums up in a surrealist twist. Inbetween owl-hunting and fish-gazing, she enjoy spending time wolfing down sugary sweets. We discuss comics, shooting videos, and her creative process. Scan below to read the full interview…
It is strange, the more I interview artists, the more I find them living in Canada. What exactly is it about that country’s environment that inspires you?
Jeannie: I love Canada, despite how the rest of the world sees it as a boring place. I find that it has the right moderation of adventure and excitement as well as quietness and serenity. I’m a person who likes to enjoy simple pleasures in life when I’m not out and about searching for the next thing to work with. It gives me time to come up with ideas before going off and executing them.
What shows and/or events can we look forward to seeing you at throughout 2011?
Jeannie: Canzine is a large zine event here in Toronto that I work hard to participate at every year, drop by if you can this Fall!
I wish we were friends in real life! Then I could have cool videos documenting my trips out on the town [laughs]! Do you do these videos to document your adventures or to keep the creative juices flowing? Or perhaps a bit of both?
Jeannie: I have become the friend who always has their camera with them, I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing some times! I always like to record snippets of places I go mainly to preserve memories, no matter how mundane, and to practice video editing because it’s really something I want to get into. I’ve never had the opportunity to work with moving images until recently when I got my camera, and its potential is really amazing!
I love the comics you illustrate. Where did your love of comic begin?
Jeannie: When I was younger I was huge into Japanese manga, and then dabbled into American comics a little while after. My sister got into it as well and we sort of fueled each other on; if we were traveling we’d be trying to hit up the nearest comic store to see which comics were unique to their location. I’m currently on the hunt self published comics, small press and French comics (to put to use my fleeting French skills).
Switching gears, I know you are a fan of ‘Enter the Void’, and although not an Asian film, it does take place in a foreign country. Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime that you enjoy watching?
How is your 2011 self portrait coming along? Are you procrastinating the process?
Jeannie: You caught me, I’ve been pushing it back in favor of the comic I’ve been working on which is my current priority.
In addition to being an artist of many trades, you are also a graphic designer. Do you feel your design has taken a back seat to your illustrations as of late?
Jeannie: Definitely. Although graphic design does cross over during my work process a lot of the times like when I make artistic choices, but also when I’m designing my portfolio website or self promotion material. It’s a really handy interest and talent to have.
Could you tell us a bit about your ‘Bring Fish to Life’ project and how that came about? I think it is a really simple, cute piece of art!
Jeannie: Thank you! Making toys is another side project I want to get into (amongst many!), and I wanted to start with something clean and simple. So I took one of my characters that’s become associated with my work, and moulded it into a 3D toy. I loved to sculpt as a child and this is my way of bringing it back.
Lastly, do you have any advice for any artists out there?
Jeannie: Like I briefly mentioned above, I believe having a base knowledge in graphic design (whether it be the principles, or learning programs such as InDesign), is a useful tool for an illustrator to have under their belt. Also, make friends in all creative fields because we all intermingle and you end up having fun creative jams together that could go beyond flat art.
Want to keep tabs on Jeannie? Follow her cookie crumb trail below: