Saturday, August 13, 2011

Introducing Kelvin Chan - The Versatile Multi-Tasking Artist

Get to know one indie artist, and one ends up knowing four!

Red Dot Diva learnt about local artists Kelvin Chan's late entry as featured artist at the recent Comic Art Show only about two weeks before the event.

She tried to get hold of him for a short interview before the show, but according to Alwyn Da Boss, Kelvin is a "very busy man".

After all, he juggles a full-time illustration job, acting as mentor/ teacher and being a husband and father! How he ever finds more time to do more drawings due to his love for comics and pop-culture is most amazing. Red Dot Diva suspects he can clone himself, like Doctor Manhattan. Heh.

She did eagerly check out Kelvin's website at Rocketraygun before the exhibition, and was very pleased to notice the wide range of styles and subjects that he indulges in. Kelvin loves anatomy and drawing humanoid figures so his art pieces range from the usual superheroes, to Star Wars characters to even *squee* Harry Potter!

On the first day at the Comic Art Show, Red Dot Diva finally managed to meet the man himself and was able to pull him aside for a very snappy, impromptu interview session.

Red Dot Diva: When was the first time you realized you’ve fallen in love with drawing?
Kelvin: When I was three years old. I was 70's kid and every Sunday, there was this Tarzan comic strip. I really love Tarzan and I started to draw. I am an only child so I was usually by myself and that's how I started drawing when I was very young.

Red Dot Diva: Did you go to any art school?
Kelvin: I couldn't make it to Junior College. And at that point, I went to a polytechnic and took up a Diploma in Graphic Design. Illustration is the forte I majored in, but I also did graphic design. So that helped me to be able to draw an anatomy of a person reasonably well.

Red Dot Diva: When do you remember falling in love with pop-culture and comics?
Kelvin: While growing up, my Dad supported me in my love for pop-culture and comics. A lot of my pocket money went into comic books. Because I am very influenced by the artists. And of course, Star Wars, which blew me away. And I wanted to be part of the existence together with the people who created these things. The next closest thing I could do about that was to draw and to read comics.

Red Dot Diva: You seem to be a very busy person – with a full-time day job, and then drawing comics and concepts professionally. Plus teaching. Do you need to enter into a different frame of mind space when you get into each activity?
Kelvin: The good thing is that my day job involves graphics and a lot of drawing. Initially, I drew my comics stuff on the side. I spent a lot of time practising and honing my skills. It is only in the last 3 years that I might want to move into this as a career, as in breaking into comics. And I set myself targets to achieve. In the next 5-10 years, I want to do my own books.

Red Dot Diva: So at this point in time, do you have ideas of what you might create or do for your own books?
Kelvin: I am open to anything right now, and I'd love to work for the big comic publishing houses. For my own work, I have a story that I have been developing for years. And I have friends who have also really good story ideas. It's just that everyone needs to commit the time to do this because we are all juggling day jobs, family and our creative ideas. Meanwhile, I am also doing stuff to break into the mainstream industry.

Red Dot Diva: What is it about drawing comics that is particularly special to you?
Kelvin: Basically, I love the human form and using my love for anatomy to create my own style of cool characters. I do concept art for games and animation. I enjoy doing something that has never been done before and every project is new and that's therapeutic by itself.

Red Dot Diva: And I notice in your blog that you are also entering into the world of sculpting. How is that going?
Kelvin: When I was in school, I had a mentor who was a lecturer and she has been trying very hard to get me into fine-art sculpting. I can and do sculpt because I'm very into toys. And I am crazy about anatomy so I love to do creative stuff with sculpting. I sculpted Superman stuff and Lord of the Rings stuff. But it is a very tedious process, which I feel I'm not in a space to do this actively. Still, I have to say that sculpting in itself, is very rewarding. Especially when you see the finished product.

Red Dot Diva: Tell us a bit more about your book, The Art of RocketRayGun. Why did you put it together? Did you have difficulty choosing which art piece to feature?
Kelvin: 3 years ago, I wanted to break into the comics industry and I needed to have something to show. I told myself that before I was 40, I needed to get a book out. But time went on and I was procrastinating.

When I started my blog, I was drawing a lot. And I realized I have enough for a book. Then, I was at San Diego Comic Con and I saw that the artists just put together their artwork and offered it for sale. I came back home and I told myself this is what I would do.

I chose my art pieces and got myself a good printer and decided to come up with the art book. It is also useful as a portfolio.

Red Dot Diva: Name us your artistic inspirations.
Kelvin: I really like Leinil Yu's work. He was the guy who brought me back into drawing and getting inspired again. I also love John Byrne, Bryan Hitch and Adam Hughes. I met Adam Hughes and Travis Charest when I was at SDCC. Was really happy to be able to meet all my targets there!

Red Dot Diva: What do you think of the local and regional artists' chances of breaking into the mainstream comics industry in a big way?
Kelvin: In Singapore, I think we definitely have the talent. We just have not been exposed to the opportunities. Every time I attend a gig or a mini convention, I see a lot of talent existing and I did not hear about them before. And suddenly, I hear of a guy who has been selected for this and that. We have the quality but our market is small and we don't have a supportive local label. So we have to tag onto the big publishing houses. But these publishing houses need approval for who they can choose to join them.

Red Dot Diva: So what can the local/ regional artists do to increase their profile in a more prominent way?
Kelvin: I guess to have more shows. We need a big strong player in the local/ regional publishing industry to invest in these talents. Which I think some people are talking about it. We need someone who is able to set aside funds to develop this.

Red Dot Diva: How did you get involved to do Comic Art Show 2011?
Kelvin: I'm an avid toy collector and I used to head to China Square a lot to sell off some of my collectibles. I got to know Alwyn from there, and then, got to know a group of comic fans. And we've kept in touch ever since. Alwyn told me he was organizing this Comic Art Show and pulled me in.

Red Dot Diva: What are your next projects?
Kelvin: I am trying my best to break into a commissioned job. I will push myself to self-publish next year. I have a story I've been working on for a very long time!

Good news for indie pop-culture/ comic art lovers out there! Kelvin will not only be making appearances at Harris Planerd's booth at STGCC, he has decided to have his own booth too!

Go visit him at STGCC Artists' Alley booth #48 to check out his RockerRayGun-slinging and eye-catching artwork! Kelvin has been working on new art to show at STGCC. Get prepared to be so tempted that one may end up requesting a commissioned artwork or two!

FYI - Red Dot Diva has already pinned Kelvin down as one of her glam-stalking targets.


Find out more about Kelvin Chan on his official blog!

And more of his artwork at Deviant Art!

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