October 2015

Dom tsoi: ILlustration in focus

I think you have to be confident in your abilities - be motivated and positive. Positivity plays such an important part.

Have you always drawn in this fluid, linear manner or has it developed and matured in recent years/over the course of your studies?

My style has definitely developed and matured over the year, more so this year. Throughout my studies I was constantly experimenting on different techniques and mediums. Eventually I slowly developed a comfortable style that I enjoy. This year I studied Chinese historical art; going back to my ethnicity, I discovered that my work relates to it in terms of brushwork. This was when I embraced and expressed more fluidity in my work.

Are there any themes/kinds of images that you find most exciting to draw?

There aren’t any themes in particular, I think it’s just personal interests. I like to draw smoke a lot. I think it’s because using the brush-pen I can capture the flow of smoke really well and there are so many different ways to draw smoke. I think people and animals are the things I draw most often.

Have you ever made any comic books/graphic novels? Do you have any plans to do so? (I think your work would lend itself beautifully to the graphic novel).

Yes, I am currently doing. I have a mate in Plymouth who I’m working with on a graphic novel. We’re half way through finalising the first issue. We were developing this half way through my third year. Right now, I’m working on another graphic novel with my mate’s dad who is a freelance film-artist/photographer. I was pretty new to it - as were the other two -but grew into the experience. I just love the process of it all; the meetings and discussions are really interesting. Both comics are really intriguing and different. It’s nice to work with people outside the art world and see their enthusiasm, passion and vision.

So what sort of material do you reference or work with when creating a comic book? What work helps to inspire you? 

I start out 

What is your process when responding to a brief? What do you do first? What part of the process do you find most exciting?

It kind of depends on the brief really - like if it were a long brief I’d research into things and visit or go around somewhere. I normally create a mood board first - for references and things that relate to the brief required. Then I start sketching like crazy, trying to figure out an idea I really like. Most of the time ideas pop up when I least expect it. The part that is most exciting is when the idea in your head just clicks and you know exactly what you want, which puts you in the zone.

What is your creative routine? How do you approach a piece of work? Do you listen to music (if so tell us about a few favourites to work to)?

I don’t think I have a routine. I grab a pen/pencil/brush and just do it. I sketch a rough lay-out of it first but I’m really striving to eventually skip that step and get right to it. I’m not a fan of coming back to a piece of work the next day so I try to finish the piece in one sitting. I definitely listen to music whilst I draw; I like a lot of different genres so it really depends on my mood and what I’m drawing. At the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of Foo Fighters and Etherwood.

Are there other interests (e.g. film/music/other) that have influenced your style/work?

Whenever I see a film I like or a cool concept in a film I always say I want to do a drawing of it - it’s just finding the time really. Studio Ghibli films are always fantastic to watch. I have a huge soft spot for cartoons and 2D animation and I wouldn’t mind having a go at animation myself in the future. Music is always important. I get inspired by quite a lot of things but I think my main influence is just the Chinese culture e.g. objects, buildings, beliefs etcetera. The intricate details are so amazing and there is always a meaning to everything.

Can you talk about a person/artist/number of artists that inspire you?

Well, there’s a big list of artists I look up to. James Jean is by far one of the best artists in my opinion. I love Sachin Teng; he’s just the boss. I think these two are my all time favourites. A new artist I’ve discovered recently is Boy Kong. I could go on listing artists with so many different styles e.g. street art, graffiti, paintings etcetera. They’re all really inspiring in what they do. Dan Budd and Jack Viant are mates I went to university with. They inspire me and have pushed me all the way from first year. Illustration is such a competitive subject so it was good to have that friendly competition and help each other out. What all these artists have in common is that they are hard workers and are passionate about what they do. That’s what really inspires me.

Tell us about a memorable project…

Building a dinosaur out of cardboard.

Got any exciting projects lined up?

The graphic novel I’m working on is pretty exciting; the concept of the story is really cool. SickT’s have a new clothing-line coming soon, which is exciting stuff. I’ve been messaged by a number of people for freelance work, so if they’re still all game that could be rad!

Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with?

Too many I think. I think I would like to collaborate with a few mates from university first because I know how they work and it would be fun. I wouldn’t mind collaborating with a street artist and doing murals. Even work with an animator on a short video or something would be cool.

How did the collaboration with SickT’s come about?

We were chilling in Jack’s garden having a BBQ and were just talking about the possibility. And the words ‘why not’ sprung up and we just went from there - nothing more to it really.

How have you found the university experience? Do you think it has been a beneficial experience/that you have developed useful skills?

It was definitely a useful experience. I got to meet lovely people, discover and develop. I have no regrets, apart from turning up drunk on the first day.

How did you find Plymouth as a location for the arts?

Plymouth is a great city. Everything is in walking distance, cheap and youthful. It’s a student based city so there are a lot of attractions for young people, which involve art as well. I don’t know if there are many opportunities compared to other bigger cities in the UK but I would go past it. Worth a visit.

Is there anywhere that you’d like to travel to that you think would be inspiring for you?

Japan, I think would be a good one. Anywhere in Asia I think. I would love to go to San Francisco and Berlin as well. 

What is it like working as an illustrator/designer, and trying to make a career out of it? Are there specific challenges that you’ve encountered?

Well, technically this is just the start for me but at the start there will always be that fear of being unemployed and financial worries. I think you have to be confident in your abilities - be motivated and positive. Positivity plays such an important part.

What are you seeking to do with your work in the future?

Discover something new, possibly that no one has done before and let the world know. For now I’m just going to keep the consistency and build up my website page of illustrations - keep that constant creativity going and hopefully something will come of it.