Favourite artists: Kevin Chen, Craig
Mullins, Sargent, Dean Cornwell, NC Wyeth, Sparth, Katsuya Terada, Akira
Toriyama of the Dragon Ball series.
Alex Chu’s distinctive character and
environment concepts bear the mark of someone with experience well beyond his
years. At just 19, the Illustration Major from California’s Art Center College of Design,
has crafted an undeniably original illustrative style, with a fluidity of brush
stroke combined with a firm grasp of human form and environmental awareness.
It wasn’t until the last year of high
school that Alex decided that art could be a viable career path. He’s aware
it’s not going to be easy though – and realises that there’s no substitute for
old-fashioned hard work. “Practise as much as you can,” advises Alex. “Due to
the high level of exposure concept art is getting now, the level of skill and
creativity in the community is increasing at an amazing rate, year on year.
There really is no other way to get good at what you do than to practise
continually.” And like Alex’s tutors keep reminding him, “It’s all about
Role with it
Alex’s fluid concept drawings usually take
around three to ten hours to complete, depending on the subject matter he
chooses and the amount of detail, naturally. Finding it a little difficult to
pin down his inspiration, Alex tells us that, “I find inspiration for my
characters and concepts from everywhere around me.” He continues, “I think it’s
important not to restrict yourself to single specific sources of inspiration –
sometimes what you think are the most irrelevant objects to your work will
inspire you. I’m trying out different techniques all the time – every encounter
with a new technique changes my perspective of art slightly.”
His influences however can be pinned down.
“I’m influenced most by my teachers, and the artists I look up to including
Craig Mullins, Sparth, Sargent and NC Wyeth.”
Alex’s working method is one any aspiring
concept artist should take note of, being a very thorough process that doesn’t,
no matter how tempting it is, jump straight in to the painting stage. “I
usually generate a bunch of rough sketches and ideas that best suits the
subject,” reveals Alex. “Then I gather the right references for the specific
idea and use them on the side. Research is an extremely important part of the
process. And although it’s good to have references, you don’t want to end up
copying them exactly.” Sound advice indeed, Alex.
The change over to digital tools is a
recent one for Alex, and he recognises that you must never let go of
traditional mediums, even if digital does provide a certain ‘convenience’.
leave Alex with him offering some more snippets of common sense, this time on
getting yourself known in the industry. “It’s definitely easier to get yourself
known nowadays due to online art communities,” he says. “My advice is simple –
just be as active as you can and look out for, and hold on to, the slightest
“A year ago I started the transition from traditional media to digital media. I
must say that digital is extremely advantageous – mainly due to the undo
function and the ability to adjust the image on the fly.” However, he adds:
“Even now I have to admit that it still cannot replace the feeling of actually
working with a pencil on paper or a brush on canvas.”