INTERVIEW BY COMPUART MAGAZINE
1. Could you please share some biographical detail
about you? Where did yo grow up? Where did you get
Where did I grow up, hmmm. My family fled Viet Nam
when I was 2 years old and we eventually immigrated to
Canada after a brief stay at a refugee camp. Sounds dangerous
and daring, just wish I could remember any bit of it. I
was too young. I've lived the rest of my life here in
Canada and have moved to Toronto to do what I do now.
As for what I studied back in school, I've now given
up on figuring out the question of what I want to do.
I started with a degree in Computer Science, and then
dabbled with minors in philosophy and geography at the
University of Western Ontario. After that, I went for
another degree in illustration and design, but in the
end, settled with an illustration diploma from the
Ontario College of Art and Design. Now I have a
nagging bone that tells me that I need to do marine biology in Australia.
My restlessness will be the end of my sane and tired
2. Why did you choose to do both graphic design and
illustration? What do you enjoy working on more --
design or illustration?
Initially I started out in programming and moved over
to design. It has been my staple as I began pursuing
illustration and building momentum. I'm a thinker; tinkerer
and I like to fidget. This is why I do both design
and illustration. I get bored if I just do one, in
fact, between kerning typefaces and drawing, I like to
program code because it lets me use a different
part of my brain that feels neglected. So to answer
the question, I like design and illustration equally.
In addition, a great project is
one where I not only do the illustration, but the
design aspects of the project as well.
3. What software do you use?
I generally stick to two programs, the almighty Adobe
Illustrator and Photoshop. I churn it out on a PC (that I built, not a Mac)
computer with a tablet, scanner, printer and lots of
mp3's. For my illustrations, I work entirely in vector
with Illustrator. It's hard to tell, because it looks
photoshopped, but it's all done in Illustrator. I use
the software in unconventional ways and in ways that
I'm not sure that you're suppose to use the software.
For design, it's generally a blend of Photoshop with Illustrator.
4. In a nutshell, could you share the pure technical
process of creating your works? As in, do you make
pencil sketches first, or do you start working in
digital space right from the beginning of a project?
In a nutshell eh? Is perpetual motion possible? I tried to explain some of my techniques
before, I had one magazine do a step-by-step
article on how I work with the programs, and in the
end it made no sense to anyone. I can however say
that I start with sketches, lots of little thumbnail
sized sketches that work out composition and concept.
In fact, even before the sketches, there is a lot of
scribbling of words as I brainstorm for ideas and
concepts. For me an illustration is not just about a
great looking image, it's also about the idea behind
it and what it communicates. After I have a concept,
worked out a sketch, I do a rough linear drawing by
hand and then scan it into the computer. This saves
time because if you figure out the composition before
you start on the computer, you're saving a lot of time
from mucking about later, trying to make it work. Now
I simply load up Illustrator and place the sketch in
as a base to work off of. The sketching isn't
isolated to just illustration, even for a design
layout or poster. I sketch it out, work out the
composition and block in the text areas first before
hitting the computer. The best thing about using the
computer is that you can always move and change things
around. The worst thing about computers is that you
can always move and change things around. It's easier
to know where to stop if you know what you are trying