A) My name is Marcos Chin, I’m 31 years old. I graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design, in Toronto, where I am originally from, but currently live in New York City.
Q)How did you get started making art?
A)I have always loved to draw ever since I was a child. This interest of mine stayed with me throughout school – throughout my life – so when it came time to decide where to further my education after high school, I chose to apply to the Ontario College of Art and Design. It wasn’t until I was near the end of my first year at college, that I decided I wanted to pursue “drawing” – specifically illustration – for a living.
Q)How would you describe your art?
A) Much of the work that I do is for commercial clients, ie. editorial or advertising – oftentimes they call me to illustrate lifestyle or fashion inspired themes.
Q)Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related
A) It would be difficult for me to specify my biggest influence – there are so many things which inspire me and my work. Artists both living and passed have been a main source of inspiration for me, as are other illustrators, my own history, ethnicity, cartoons and comics, fashion and music, street culture, travelling, my friends. I know that as time passes, my tastes also shifts; so what may have been a previous source of inspiration for me, may no longer be the same – my influences continue to evolve.
Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?
A)For my commercial work, I often receive some sort of artistic brief, as an article for a magazine for example. I read it over once and then jot down or highlight on the page, anything which might inspire me visually to create an image based on what I’ve read. I then do a second read over of the article and then basically create fast loose thumbnail drawings in my sketchbook of any ideas that I might have. This is the most important stage of development for me: my rough or brainstorming stage where I come up with the concepts of what I want to illustrate. Oftentimes, if I am stuck on an idea, then I close my sketchbook and then reinvestigate it later on – if there is some time, I will even sleep on it and wait until the next day to continue to do more brainstorming. After my idea work is done, I will peruse through my drawings and select one which I think will make a good final drawing. I redraw this idea sketch into a much cleaner and larger drawing, after which I will scan in the drawing into my computer and use it as a template to digitally redraw it using Adobe Illustrator.
Q) What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?
A)I love to draw using brush and ink or a fine tip marker.
Q) What is your favourite art related web site?
A)Honestly, I really don’t have one.
Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?
A) My drawings are a mix of digital vector work mixed with handmade.
Q) What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?
A) I have limited experience with exhibit work so it is difficult for me to answer that question.
Q) I'm always interested in where an artist find their inspiration. Where do you find yours?
A)As mentioned in question 4, much of my inspiration comes from a variety of places. But to expand a bit on this, part of the reason why i chose to live in new york city was that it inspired me: the people, the sounds, the cityscape, the nightlife. It is always a new experience for me, getting up and leaving my apartment to go to the studio, things which i may experience along the way, feelings that I might have or the things that i might see or experience venturing out in the city on my time off will in some way appear in my work.
Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?
A)Both good and bad. Some people like it and some people don’t.
Q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?
A)This is an appropriate question considering it is the New Year – one of my resolutions is to live more of a balanced life; to not work so much. When I am not creating art I try my best to do just that, things which keep me out of the studio – whether it is going to the gym, watching movies, hanging out with my friends, travelling… all of these things not typically art related I need to do in order to help fuel my later work.
Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?
A) I think one of the greatest challenges that I face with my work constantly, is to try to keep it honest. I want to try to create pieces that “I want to create” and to not be swayed by the market, and what is seen as being popular versus unpopular. Of course we all need to live, and so the commercial work that I do for instance, provides me with the freedom to create personal images of mine maintain this sense of honesty.
Q) Do you believe that a person is born with a talent to produce art or can anyone can be taught?
A)Although I believe that most people can be taught to draw or paint, the ones who are better than average have some sort of X-factor that sets them apart from the majority.
Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?
A)This sounds really contrived but I don’t have any favourites… funny enough every time I go back and look at my work I think I could have done a better job.
Q) What are some current/upcoming projects you are working on or excited about?
A)Recently I completed 2 projects for Nieman Marcus in the U.S. for their annual Christmas Catalogue and another one that is due to come out in February. However, what I am very excited about is to go back to school – I am currently deciding whether or not I want to further my education, I have been out of school for about 7 years, but now I feel as though I want to learn more, and play more with different media etc.
Q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?
A)One piece of advice that I would give to younger artists who want to pursue visual arts as a career is to work hard. Again, I know that sounds contrived, but it’s true. Just being talented isn’t good enough to “make it”… you need to have a strong work ethic: to constantly be driven to persist when times are difficult and to create new work when nobody is asking you to do so, it’s about becoming a business and knowing how to market yourself, and learning as much as you can about the industry in which you are in.
Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?
A)I have been to many galleries… but it really depends on the show that is being exhibited which will determine if I would like to visit that gallery or not. That being said, one museum that was a favourite of mine solely for being a gallery was the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. I took a trip from Toronto to Bilbao a few years back and purposely visited that city in order to see the museum; it was incredible.
Q) Do you need others to tell you they like it before you feel validated?
A) It always feels good when somebody likes my work, but to have their comments validate what I do is not healthy.
Q)Tell us a little about some of the different types of jobs you've had over the years, before/while doing what you do now. For someone who is starting out in art, how would you recommend they go about making a career out of it?
A) I have been working ever since I was 10 years old – I had part time jobs delivering daily newspapers, working in a fast food restaurant, a supermarket, a daycare centre, a clothing store; I’ve done administrative work in offices… and although these jobs seem irrelevant to what I do now, the gains that I made from those experiences helped to fashion within me, a strong work ethic; it honed my communication skills and made me realize that I didn’t want to be doing any of those types of jobs ever again during the rest of my lifetime.
Starting out as an illustrator can be difficult because there is no protocol to finding work – at least not a structured one. There is nobody to submit your resume to, there is no human resources department, there is nobody telling you when to show up for your job or when to go on lunch; moreover, there is nobody testing your skills to determine whether or not you deserve a raise. Freelancing as an illustrator is so different, it is up to you to decide to whom you want to show your work, it is up to you to research who it is you want to work with in your industry, it is up to you to put together your own mailing list, it is up to you to put together your portfolio and show it to those in your industry. Basically at the beginning, that is what it is like, constantly trying to prove yourself and to connect with many people/art directors/art buyers to convince them that you are the one who they want to work with; there is nobody other than yourself who is responsible for this. That is how I began, I went into bookstores and took down the names and addresses of those art directors who I wanted to work with, I asked my professors for help in fixing my portfolio or suggestions on where I should show my portfolio. I called up advertising agencies and magazines to ask for mailing lists of the art directors who worked there, I looked through illustration award annuals to see if there were names of clients who I could send my work to, or call to make an appointment. I read books about the business of illustration and different ways to promote myself. But ultimately what I didn’t do was to give up; I constantly tried my hardest to continue to create new images even though nobody was calling me to do so. I thought that if I kept this up, then I would become better at my business and my craft.