Brian Luong is an illustrator currently residing in Southern California. He favors natural and organic subject matters, often building upon what nature has to offer in order to create otherworldly and mysterious subjects for his work. I had a chance to catch up with him to discuss his artwork, a possible tenure at Mondo, and his creative process. Read below for the full interview…
As a mid 20’s illustrator who has done illustrations for Adventure Time and Metal Gear, are these particular shows and video games of interest to you in your personal life? Or are you able to create art for subjects that don’t appeal to you as well?
Brian: Yes, the show and the video games are of interest to me! I’ll admit that I’m not a hardcore Adventure Time fan, but I do watch the show from time to time. As for the Metal Gear Solid series of video games, they have consumed a good amount of time during my high school years. I must also clarify that these pieces were created strictly as personal pieces. It’s a lot easier for me to create art for subjects that appeal to me, but with enough effort I can find likeable aspects in a subject that I don’t normally like in order to drive my inspiration.
I have lots of thoughts surrounding your Adventure Time piece. You said you started and then revisited it a couple months down the road. What is your creative process like when there is such a huge gap between working periods on a piece?
Brian: The creative process is fairly similar when compared to a piece I create with no extended time gap between start to finish. When coming back to a piece that has been set aside for quite some time, I just need to recollect what I wanted to do with the piece; the type of mood I wanted to portray, colors, etc. After I’ve figured it out, I’ll just work on the piece as if I only stopped working on it for a day or two. Sometimes it helps when I set a piece aside for awhile and come back to it a couple weeks later. I’ll take notice of things that look off and change things that I would have hesitated to change earlier on or find new ways to inject more energy into the piece.
When many artists approach T-Shirt design, it differs from their illustrations. In your opinion, does art have to be tailor-made for the purposes of apparel to produce a better result or is it just another medium to apply your art?
Brian: In my opinion, the art does have to be tailored to a certain degree to produce a better result for apparel purposes. When creating a piece of artwork for use on apparel, you have to be conscious about how your art will sit on the shirt and the wearer because the composition of the artwork can either look flattering or awkward when worn.
I know you are a sketcher and doodler. How do these lesser illustrations help in your overall creative process?
Brian: Sketching and doodling helps keep me loose and experimental; I’ll draw things I won’t normally draw because I’m not worrying too much about how the final drawing will turn out. Sketches and doodles are done quickly, too, so I can get a lot of ideas and experimentations done in a short amount of time. Drawing a small doodle on a 3″x3″ piece of cardstock is also very meditative for me.
In your bio, you state your work has been honed and refined. Looking ahead, what aspects of your work would you like to have tighter and more controlled? Any areas in illustration that you still struggle with?
Brian: I would like to have tighter control over the amount of detail I put into my work. In the future, I would like my work to have more detail and little things to look at hidden among the overall picture. I still struggle with breaking out of my comfort zone and trying new things when it comes to creating illustrations; I haven’t been as innovative as I would like to be!
Is your work 100% digital? No scanned in sketches or anything?
Brian: Yup! From the very first sketches to the finishing touches, everything stays in the digital realm. Every so often I’ll do sketches and thumbnails on paper to break the monotony of working on my computer, but it’s rare.
How do you feel your art would look or feel if you didn’t go to a University?
Brian: My art would have never grown/develop to where it is today had it not been for the years I spent at my university (California State University Northridge). A lot of the foundation techniques that I learned at my university would have been overlooked had I not learned about them in the classroom, and my art today would definitely lack the attention to detail and polish it has today. I’ve become very nit-picky with my art thanks to my instructors.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime?
Brian: My Neighbor Totoro stands out the most in my memory. I remember watching it at my grandparent’s house when I was really young and it has become a part of my childhood I’ll always remember.
Your work has an Aaron Horkey feel to it, in regards to lots of ribbons, fine details, and the inclusion of nature. Any chance of you joining the ranks of Mondo poster artists along with him and Kevin Tong?
Brian: I would gladly accept an offer from Mondo if given the chance! Joining the ranks of Aaron Horkey and Kevin Tong would be extremely awesome, yet extremely scary; I think highly of these artists and don’t think that I’m quite at the level to party with them just yet! Give me another year and I think I might be ready then.
Want to keep tabs on all of Brian’s work? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: