Christmas is almost upon us! Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I think I’ve said it before but time really passes too quickly for my comfort. Anyways, today we chat with Andrew Tan…otherwise or perhaps more popularly known as Drewscape in the artist community. Andrew was formerly an advertising art director but he now makes his name doing commercial illustrations and storyboard visuals. He will also be launching a graphic novel through Epigram, a whimsical yet dark anthology about monsters, miracles and mayonnaise. It’ll be retailing at $20.22 (after taxes) so don’t forget to support local talent by buying his book! Hehe.
Enjoy his words of wisdom, folks!
Tell us about yourself. What got you started in comics?
I’ve always liked to draw since young and I would draw my own comedy Star Wars comics in my primary school exercise books (All lost now). I studied mass communication and got into the advertising industry where I became an art director. After 8 years, I quit to become a freelance illustrator. All the while, I’ve always had stories in my head that I wanted to express in the comic form. I liked the comic form because it was cheaper and quicker than producing a film. And I didn’t have to compromise so much if I was working alone on it. So I’d keep drawing my own comics in my free time. I did a series of short comic strips while I was in advertising called Blur King. It’s about a blur boy based more or less on me (I was very blur.) And then progressed to do comics with a more mature style as my skills improved. Presently, I’m still a freelance illustrator but I create comics as a fun hobby.
What is one thing that the public doesn’t know about Drewscape?
My nickname was “blur king” when I was in primary school. Whenever I move to a new class every year, I’d never tell my new classmates what I was called. But I would always end up being called “blur king” eventually. I was a pretty good daydreamer. I’d like to think I still am.
How will you describe your art style?
It’s a mix and match of all the artists that I like. Like most kids, I grew up with spiderman and transformer comics. Then I was exposed to manga(Appleseed) which I really thought was fresh and exciting. I started watching Robotech when I was in secondary school and kept trying to perfect my manga style. Later on, when I started working, I was attracted to art books by Aya Takano, Amano, James Jean and Ashley Wood to name a few. I’d study these and try to figure out how they achieved their respective looks. If they used a certain pen, I’d find that pen and try it out. If they drew a nose in a certain way, I’d try it out too. More recently, I became more aware of french/European comics because they offered a very fresh look that was different from both American and Japanese comics (eg. Comics by Brecht Evens, Bastien Vives, Christian Cailleaux). So I began learning from those comics too. I’d try out their styles or techniques but I’d never copy their character designs. I’d always draw my own characters but in their styles. That was my way of improving and not end up drawing exactly like them. That’s how my style evolved. Most of these styles are very different from each other. But because I studied all of them and I like all of them, I find myself switching styles often.
What is your secret to getting published as a comics artist?
I’d say that my “secret” is not to focus on getting published. Focusing on that would just make me too self conscious to produce anything spontaneous and fun. I just focus on writing and creating good comics for my own entertainment and to show my friends. As I create each comic, I learn and get better at storytelling and drawing. And I think, like me, when you have a body of work that you can show in your website or blog, and the content is readable and has a good standard, publishers will ask to publish your work. But I feel the goal shouldn’t be a getting your own book published. It should be able just enjoying the art of creating comics and getting better at it.
Who is/was your biggest inspiration and why?
Because comics are a combination of art and story, I’ll give two.
Art-wise I’d have to say Ashley Wood because I found it hard to figure out his drawing techniques. I took a few years to figure out how he added and coloured those nice grungy grains in his drawings, what pens he used, how he managed to change a line colour in unusual ways. It wasn’t as straightforward like watercolour drawings. Just by trying to figure his techniques by trial and error, I learned a lot about mixing digital and natural media in an illustration.
Story-wise, I could say Haruki Murakami. I like his blend of reality mixed with strangeness.
What do you think makes you different from the other comic artists/illustrators?
The same thing that makes us all different from each other- My preference for certain art styles , my personality, my lifestyle, and my personal experiences growing up.