Andy Tsang is a talented designer, illustrator, screen printer, photographer, and…well we’re losing track how talented this guy is. After releasing his Game of Thrones print to much fanfare and buzz across the internet I wanted to sit down with Andy and he was happy enough to oblige. Read below for the full Q&A…
You’ve been mentored under your cousin Miles Tsang for awhile now. What kinds of things have you learned from him about the business of selling your art?
Andy: Miles has been very helpful in answering all my questions on screen printing, even when I’m texting him at 2am in the morning asking why something went wrong! He’s definitely guided me through the process from how to start at the very beginning to what kind of shipping methods to use when selling art. As far as the business side of selling art, I’m still VERY new to it, actually Valar Morghulis is the first art of any kind I’ve ever tried to sell online (I did a couple of cons here and there eons ago). Gary at Inside the Rock Poster Frame has been awesome and he agreed to blog about my first screen print. I’m not actively trying to sell the print but it is out there for people if they want it!
Tell us about Valar Morghulis and how you decided to release a print based off of such an iconic show. Are you experiencing any anxiety to create fan art for a show with such a loyal following?
Andy: Game of Thrones is hands down my favourite TV show currently and possibly my favourite show of all time. The story lines and characters and twists and turns are just so awesome. I loved the storyline of Arya and Jaqen H’ghar in Season 2 and I thought the ending was just so cool when (SPOILER ALERT) he gives her the coin and tells her about Valar Morghulis. I usually find it pretty hard to come up with concepts for my art but I found GoT so inspiring that this one came quite easily to me. It was initially drawn as a personal project, as a cool thing to try screen printing as my first poster but after I printed it I thought it looked good enough to try and put out there. I don’t know if I would say I have any anxiety creating the fan art for GoT… I did test the waters prior to printing it by releasing the art on the website reddit.com and it garnered some positive responses so I felt comfortable going through with it. If anybody had problems with the content I’d be happy to address it.
A lot of your work experience is being an assistant. Do you have a desire to become an art director at some point in your career?
Andy: Although it would be nice to be an art director and eventually a production designer, my current work as a 1st assistant is actually quite satisfying. My official title is “1st Assistant Art Director” but a more apt description would be “Graphic Designer.” Most of the time on the shows I work on I’m the only graphic designer so I have quite a bit of freedom and creative control in my work. One day I would probably like to work my way up and work on big hollywood blockbusters but I’ll let it come as my career progresses.
You are well versed in storyboards, as well as graphic design, illustration and painting. How are you able to become a well balanced multi-disciplinary artist?
Andy: I started drawing at a young age, which I believe lent itself well as a foundation to all other forms of art. I was able to experiment with different art methods throughout high school and studied one year of Art Fundamentals at Sheridan College. I did my film degree at Ryerson which I think helped me in understanding storyboards and composition better. After graduating I started in the film/tv biz and I just landed in the graphic design world by circumstance and I found that my background in drawing, painting, film, photography, and composition all helped me in the transition to graphic design. I think if one has a good sense of art and an eye for design, it really doesn’t matter what the outlet or medium is, the creativity will come through. Your only limitation should be technical skill, and that can be learned and overcome with time and effort.
Comics have a very strong foundation to work from. With your own creative foundations already established, how has each Director’s stylistic preferences influenced you as a storyboard artist?
Andy: Each director definitely has their own style and scene layout in their head. It’s my job to put what they see in their mind on paper and I think rather than their stylistic preference influencing me it’s more a matter of their preparation and thought process that influences me. Some directors will come to me with diagrams all mapped out with stick figures, and some will simply explain what they want with words and photographs. The challenge is sifting through all the information and putting it down on paper in the precise way the director wants. I see storyboarding as more of a method to relay information than something that I can or should stamp my style on.
In contrast, do you feel you need improvement in an area or has a discipline fallen by the wayside due to balancing so many mediums?
Andy: I feel I need improvement in all areas all the time. I do feel that my drawing and illustration skills have fallen by the wayside a bit since the concentration of my daily job is graphic design. I’m a big supporter of being multifaceted but I realize the importance of concentrating on one task and being the best you can be at it rather than concentrating on three different things and being just okay at all of them. I’m gonna be cheesy and share one of my favorite quotes from a Neil Young song… “If you follow every dream, you might get lost“.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
- Once Upon a Time in China
- Ip Man
- Shaolin Soccer
- Graveyard of the Fireflies
- Anything Jackie Chan
How did you get started in photography? How does photography lend a hand to your overall repertoire as an artist?
Andy: To be honest I got into photography because I got lazy with drawing and thought pointing and clicking is way easier than rendering a whole scene by hand! I ended up emailing as many wedding studios as I could to try and find a job as an apprentice or something in university and latched on to a fairly big wedding photography studio. I was lucky and learned on the job and was able to hone my skill on the weekends. I think photography is important in that it really helps with my understanding of composition and colour.
These photographs contain scenes from Mexico, Thailand, and Japan. Are you a big traveller?
Andy: I love travelling! I did a four month backpacking trip (incl. Japan, one of my favourite countries) in 2009 in China/Japan/Thailand/Cambodia and did a 2 month trip in 2010 in Singapore/Indonesia/Laos/Vietnam. Southeast asia is so awesome.. you can just point your camera in any direction and you’ll have a great shot.
What lies ahead of you in the future? Will we be seeing bigger editions of prints from you?
Andy: Well right now I’m working on Beauty and the Beast Season 2 so that’s going to take me into middle of next year… As for screen printing, I’m thinking of doing a couple more game of thrones themed drawings, maybe a Stark Trilogy or something… As far as edition size, I’d like to aim for a 20-25 edition size, I just gotta get my technique down better! Stay tuned!
Want to see all of Andy’s work and see what is on the horizon? Hit up his official site below: