Peter Han is an artist and art teacher teaches what is called Dynamic Sketching. A new design approach which he said would allow students to develop their speed using chalk as a medium ephemeral. Using only chalk, Han works with his students to let go of their preconceived notions about art and design by working in a fast, impermanent medium that always ends up being erased. The hope is to eventually free them from the idea of permanence and allow their ideas to grow through making mistakes. Frankly speaking, Peter is what the Creative Spotlight is all about. You would be doing yourself a great disservice to not read the below interview with this talented artist. Read below…
At the time of this interview I believe we are literally catching you a day after Comic Con. Last year you debut a sketch adventure. What kind of shenanigans did you get into this year and what kind of art did you provide?
Peter: I actually expanded on my children’s book, ‘Sketch Adventure’. However my main focus this year was promoting my Chalk book ‘Pardon my Dust’. Its not really an instructional book on how I teach drawing, but it could definitely be used by students to get a good understanding of it. I started a Kickstarter for the book earlier in the month, and it helped me fund print the book for a very limited run for Comic Con.
Why did you feel you wanted to persue a B.A. in art versus just stopping at your Associates? Did the extra formal education help you in your career or did it just aid you in becoming an instructor?
Peter: I wasn’t necessarily looking for another degree, because I already knew early on that degree’s and paper’s don’t really mean anything in our field. It all comes down to a great portfolio. I was however very interested in just going to the school I currently teach at which is the ArtCenter college of design in Pasadena. On the west coast, it’s the best of the best in terms of a art and design education, so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to attend. It really did aid me in becoming a better designer, thinker and teacher. The connections and friends I made in the process were invaluable.
In addition, they say those you can’t do; teach. This doesn’t really seem to be the case for you. How do you balance all your projects and still have time to guide young artists?
Peter: Well I’ve come to realize I actually work harder now then I did when I was ArtCenter, which to students who have attended the school would find that crazy because of how intense the school was. But that really is the case, I can only do what I do now only because of how much effort and time I invest to everything I do. Much of it has to do with carrying on my mentor’s legacy Norm Schureman who was an instructor to many people at ArtCenter. He passed in 2010, and I was given the chance to take over many of his duties. So I felt the need to push as hard as possible to make sure what he had at the school did not disappear.
You also take students out on trips to various locales for hands on sketching and inspiration. I would have loved you as an instructor! Do you think getting out of the classroom and observing life with a sketchbook is essential to becoming a concept artist?
Peter: I think its pertinent as a designer period. We can’t create from nothing, only from constant observation and study can we build the visual vocabulary in our heads to construct or design something ‘new’. Plus it’s nice to get out of a stuffy room and be out in nature, or surrounded by history.
I did mention sketching a bit, and I have done lots of research and found out about your love to chalk drawing and the benefits that has versus paper. Was dynamic sketching a topic that you created in the curriculum yourself that the university approved? Or is this an age old technique that most artists overlook?
Peter: This was a technique taught by Norm who refined the process over many years. He was very well known for his astounding chalk drawings, as was I. Which inspired me to only try to reach his level. Early on when I took over his classes, I made the mistake of trying to replicate his teachings and the way drew. That was a error on my part because I was unsure of myself. But I learned quickly to adapt and use his teachings as a foundation and to eventually make the class my own. This style of drawing has been around for a long time, we call it Visual communication through the drawing process. It was mainly used by industrial and product designers, because of its efficiency and shape building.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or Anime?
Peter: I grew up watching martial arts films and anime’s. So obviously martial artists like Bruce Lee, Jackie, Jet and Donnie yen were huge influences. As cliched as it is, Bruce’s philosophies are some that I follow closely. In terms of anime’s, the one that blew my brains away when I watched it as a kid was ‘AKIRA’, now i’m not sure how appropriate it was for a 10 yr old to watch that was. However it left a lasting impression on me with the amazing animation and art.
A weird thing happens after you interview so many people, you start to see people who know each other from past interviews. To name a few, we have interviewed Francis Tsai and Victoria Ying in the past. Does L.A. have a pretty close knit community of Asian creatives? Moreso than Minneapolis?
Peter: I think its a very close knit community for sure. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing because the connections you make help in the career sense and the fact that they become good friends. However it can be a bad thing because everyone know everything when it happens. So burning bridges or acting negatively towards people is a big no-no. But I think as long as your in a position where you are always trying to lift the community, then it will always be a positive thing.
Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed. How can an artist learn to grow their imagination and depict detail in their work going off the unseen?
Peter: As children, your constantly bombarded by your environment. I think its important to be very aware and always observe your surroundings even as you get older, if not more so. Research and education is vital to an artist or designer. The unseen only exists because of the thing we have seen. To me nothing is permanent, memories fade and people forget. Things get lost through time, but I think things can always be rediscovered and made better only through the constant effort to create.
I know that people pay to hear your advice, but we always ask a creative to leave a little point of inspiration behind. Can you offer up any general advice to people who are struggling to achieve a goal?
Peter: Try to step back once in awhile and get a overall look at how you approach life or your career. We as people are always concerned about the little things initially, but we will never be able to find the right path without being truthful about where we are in our life’s If you find something lacking, do everything that is necessary in time and effort to achieve the level of skill that will make you feel confident. The risk will always be there, because you are unsure. But without taking that step you will never be one step closer to your goals. Never plan and tell yourself you need to be at a place at that certain time, in your abilities or in yourself because it is not in your control of how the future turns out. Only be aware of the present and work as hard as possible, the rest will come into fruition.
Want to stay up to date on all of Peter’s work? Visit his official site below: