Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fresh Paint: Shelly Wan

Shelly Wan was born and raised in China. She moved to the States to attend to art school and pursue a career in concept art for movies and video games. Luckily for us, she still manages time to sneak in some illustration -- she was the winner of the latest Last Man Standing Competition and is currently working on a pirate book for Tor. She is extremely knowledgeable of historical painters and illustrators. This strong foundation has lead her to a complex sense of design and color is remarkable for an artist just 25 years old. Mix that with her unique voice and determination and we’ll be seeing tons of great work from her in the decades ahead.

Where did you go to school and how do you feel they prepared you for your career, both artistically and in business?
I went to Pasadena Art Center College of Design from 2000 to 2004 because the school has a good reputation on educating commercial artists. I spend the first 3 year at the school concentrating on live painting/drawing skills. It was only in the last year that I concentrated on learning skills that relate specifically to film and games, and started to paint digitally. Art Center nurtured my taste with its vast library collection. It's there that I first encountered the golden age American Illustrators. In business -- because many of the teachers are working in the Industry, it offer the students a lot of insights into the field.

What has been your biggest challenge post graduation?
To land a job and then to meet the expectations. i have very strong personal preferences in art, so when I encounter artistic differences in art direction of my projects is usually hard for me to wrap my head around it and change my art to fit. But as a concept artist this is almost always the case, so to be adaptable is a constant struggle on my part.

Do you feel as though you've had your first break yet?
I guess so. I am totally not convinced that I have establish my personal style, but I feel I am hitting it here and there, and people are responding to it. The Last Man Standing contest at ConceptArt.org definitely pushed me into the stage light, and I got some of my favorite pieces from it that's also crowd pleasers, and I am very thankful.

Do you have a clear idea where you'd like to be in five years or are you taking each day as it comes?
It's a very blurry idea: I mostly concentrate my thinking on what skills I want to learn and get better at. As for where I want to be, it's probably where ever I can learn the most to aid my artistic growth and to be able to explore my own style.

Any advice to students still in school?
Be open to new ideas, yet be truthful to your own voice. I was continually confused by all the information that was given to me at school: rules vs. no rules, strict academy training vs. right brain thinking... at the end of the day, it's just whether you are doing art that moves yourself. Be sensitive to your instincts, and ask questions when you see pieces you like: "what's in this piece that moves me?" Distill it and make it your own.


Carl V. Anderson said...

Another great interview of a fantastic artist. I've seen that bottom picture on your site before, I believe, and its beautiful. If this is any indication, I cannot wait for the pirate book you mention.

Julien alday said...

Thank you, Irene and Shelly for that interview. A very interesting reading.
Merci beaucoup ! ^^

AstridMueller said...

thanks for that great interview, and congratulations to shelly! very inspiring, wow!


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