Featured Artist: Interview with Jasper Wong

April 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jasper Wong

On April 15, 2008 I had the opportunity to interview famous digital artist Jasper Wong via email. It was never shown to anyone outside the walls of my college campus, until now…drumrolls!

And so! To begin, Jasper is a kind man. A funny man. A…quirky man. I like that. He even friended me on Facebook this last year. A down to earth man. :-p And, in all seriousness, a crazy talented artist.

His artwork is super colorful and awesomely strange. I’ll dabble some thumbnails throughout the interview (all images are copyright to Jasper Wong) and sprinkle in some personal commentary as well.

This was such a delight to read. Hope you enjoy!

Do you have any special methods of working?

I prefer to combine different methods and mediums when I work, for example I sometimes screen print and combine that with digital printing, acrylic, gouache, ink,etc… My method of working is constantly changing and evolving with time, so I’m always open to experimenting and playing. Hopefully through playing, I discover my own unique way of working.

What materials are you most comfortable working with?

I am most comfortable working on paper or wood panel with graphite, acrylic, gouache, and ink. I also prefer to use the various digital mediums that are available to me, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Can you describe your style? What influenced you? Has your style changed over time?

To this day, I have no idea how to describe my work. People that have written about me in their publications describe it as a “frosty illustration style that is an unique clash of Asian-influenced pop culture on paper.” I personally just think of it as the random bullcrap that lives in my head that I feel a strong need to draw. (I totally feel the same way! I think a lot of people try to bs what their art means. Why can’t we just be honest and say probably 80% of the time we’re just drawing what we like?)

When it comes to influences, I love Saturday morning cartoons, manga, anime, Chinese propaganda posters, Luchadores, badly dubbed old Kung Fu films, 80’s movies such as the Goonies, Wizard, and Monster Squad, and artists like Takashi Murakami, Keiichi Tanaami, and Osamu Tezuka. (Loves me some Murakami. His stuff is so bright and cute, it’s been an inspiration for some plush dolls I’ve been designing at work.)

I feel like my style is constantly changing over time and I think that just comes from constantly drawing and creating new work. I also feel like I learn and develop the most from all the failures I’ve created over the years.

What is your educational background (colleges, art programs/clubs)?

I received a BFA in Illustration at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Who are your major clients? Favorite/coolest clients?

I am currently in the process of starting a business developing my own limited edition clothes and toys, so I’m doing a lot less client based art than before. However, I’ve worked with a lot of advertising agencies, such as Crispin Porter and Bogusky, Mullen, and JWT on projects for Volkswagen, Scion, and Jet Blue Airlines. I’ve also done some client based design projects with Jackie Chan.

What are your current and past projects? Favorite project?

Some of my more recent and fun projects have been the artist shoe I did with DC shoes and Subtext gallery. I’m also in the process of doing a custom DIY plush with Shawnimals and a limited edition Miao vinyl toy with Zakka. Other fun projects I’m currently involved in is the Ninjatown cartoon pilot I’m doing with Shawnimals, where I’m the chief storyboarder and visual development artist. However, I feel my favorite project now has been all the design work I’m doing for the company I’m creating out in Hong Kong….I always get the most satisfaction doing my personal work.

What is your favorite subject matter to draw for fun?

I love to draw luchadores with magical laser eyes, mullets, octopuses, fluffy pandas, Mr. T, and Hulk Hogan.

What is your opinion on the current illustration market?

When I was studying illustration in college, the business seemed like it was centered around editorial or children’s book work. (That’s what they still make it seem like and why I suppose I said I hated the illustration industry [link]…which I will retract. I just didn’t like the idea that it was so limited, especially to editorial styles I find not so appealing. Sorry.) However, when I graduated I realized it is much more diverse than that….these days an illustrator can go into character design, clothing graphics, toy designs (which is what I do ^_^ Awesomest job ever btw), album covers, rock posters, and the list is pretty much endless. Plus, you can show your personal work in galleries and get recognized that way as well. I like to think that we are in a golden age for the illustration market, because we are starting to see a lot more of it existing in different arenas. For example, James Jean just did all the illustrations for the current Prada line and Tokidoki’s illustration are seen all over LeSportsac bags. I’ve also done work for clients such as DC shoes, while showing my work in galleries in San Francisco, LA, New York, San Diego, France, London, Hawaii, and Japan (Dang.). Personally, I think its a very exciting time for illustrators now and if we keep our minds open then anything is possible. (And with hard hitting artists like you, James Jean, Audrey Kawasaki, Tokidoki, and Murakami being more graphic and pop-culturish, I’m seeing that it IS slowly changing what we see editorially and in more teen-aged book covers. It’s an exciting thing.)

He ended the email with a friendly “feel free to contact me” if I needed anything else and that he was traveling around Europe attending his art show openings. What a cool guy.
And then, the kicker. He signed off:

cuckoo for cocoa puffs,

YES! Uber win!

Much love,
Fair Rabbit


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