Ed Kwong is an illustrator who grew up in Vancouver but has been steadily been making his way east in Canada, first via the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, all the way to Montreal where he now resides and works. Having had the pleasure and privilege of having done work for a broad range of clients within editorial, comics, video-games, fashion, theater and music festival promotion, we knew we had to showcase him in the spotlight. Read below for the full interview…
Your work expresses your admiration for classic aesthetics of classic eras. If you had to illustrate something around the aesthetics of todays new interest in green design and sustainability, how do you think your art would translate?
Edward: A lot of my previous work certainly does express a lot of appreciation for the past, but I’d adapt accordingly to whatever subject matter or theme an illustration would require me to explore visually, be it modern, classical or whatever else. What that would look like based around green design and sustainability? I can’t really say since I’ve never tackled the subject before,
I’ve noticed alot of the objects in your illustrations have sharp points. These of course create anomolies since things like hair, couch arm rests, knees, etc. are rounded. What brought upon this unique style choice?
Edward: Sharp points are just appealing to me. It’s probably some sort of weird combination of a childhood affinity for spiky Dragonball Z hair, interest in the geometric linear shapes of art deco, a dash of constructivist design and who knows whatever else.
How does your art differ between personal illustrations and commissioned pieces? Do you have a bucket list of objects, people, scenarios, and things that you like to create?
Edward: Well my personal work has a lot more to do with the fantastical, mythology and pop culture and caters to all my own nonsense and personal whim. Commercial work on the other hand provides me with plenty of brand new subject matter to illustrate, topics that I probably wouldn’t explore on my own, but always provide an opportunity to draw and learn about something new. Granted, I find the latter can be creatively rigid sometimes, but that depends on the type of work I’m doing or the tastes and needs of the client. Occasionally the two overlap, allowing me run wild and that’s always super nice.
I’d like to put out a book or two with my collected works eventually and have a few solo shows, but I guess the better, all encompassing goal is just to continue to create and create until I can’t anymore.
Many of your drawings tell a story. How hard is it to tell a story with no words? Are you ever worried that your audience might interpret it in a way you didn’t originally intend?
Edward: It’s about as hard or as complicated as you want it to be I suppose. Personally, I find it much harder to tell sequential stories than it is to create a single image that conveys a narrative. If it’s personal work I’m not concerned at all, since it’s made out of creative compulsion and self satisfaction that caters to no one else. On the other hand, if it’s commercial work and an image fails to adequately communicate the idea, story, message, etc, that’s required of the job, well then, that there is cause for worry.
I know you were contemplating messing around with watercolors. Did you get a chance to explore the unpredictable medium?
Edward: I still use watercolours from time to time and experiment with it. Lots of texture making and things of that sort. I’ve never done an entire illustration with it exclusively, so perhaps that’s in the realm of possibility for exploration in the future.
What do you say to people who claim computer art is ‘lazy’ compared to traditional styling? If you are well versed in both techniques, do you feel leaning to one side of the spectrum can hurt you as an artist?
Edward: I’d imagine being lazy has more to do with the artist in question as opposed to the medium. The computer is a tool just like any other brush, pencil, sponge, broom, what have you, that an artist might use to make a mark or an image. Both digital and traditional have their pros and cons to be utilized, but that depends on the needs of the person and the project, so whether someone chooses to use one over the other, or both is completely their own prerogative. Generally speaking, I figure the more you know, the better. I’d be more concerned if the artistic know-how and the fundamental skill of the artist using the tool is in question.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
It has been some time since your last exhibit, do you have any plans for another one soon?
Edward: I just took part in a 25th anniversary tribute show to Street Fighter with iam8bit. Eventually I’d love to have a solo show somewhere, but nothing so far in the immediate future.
Every artist loves to be pushes creatively in their art. What is one aspect that you have difficulty drawing that you wish you could improve upon?
Edward: I’d say I’d need more practice with buildings and environments, but then again I think I always need improvement in just about everything.
This might be a big question, but you stated that you would like the world to experience your work on a grander scale. What tales of mythologies, if you could pick, would you like to unleash that would best represent you and your work?
Edward: Whoo!! That is a big question that I’m not sure I have the answer to at the moment, mostly because I’m not sure what best represents me at the moment. Lots and lost of exploration to be done before I can come close to answering that.
Lastly, any general advice for creatives out there?
Edward: Don’t be lazy when you know you can always do better and keep it fun for yourself!
Want to keep tabs on Edward’s work? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: