Thursday, April 4, 2019

Star Wars Celebration Chicago - Spot Highlight on Digital Artist Darren Tan

Whatever you may think about the latest trilogy, Star Wars has the innate ability to bring people from all over the world together.

At this year's Star Wars Celebration held from 11 April to 15 April 2019 in Chicago's McCormick Place, several well-known as well as up-and-coming artists will be showcasing and selling their Star Wars inspired art at the exhibition floor.

One of them is freelance Singapore-based digital artist Darren Tan, who has built up a sizeable fan base locally and abroad with his beautifully rendered Star Wars themed artwork that spans from the three movie trilogies we all love to the expanded universe.

Darren's artwork is also featured on RPG and card games by Fantasy Flight Games, like Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: Outer Rim.

It is only a week till the start of Star Wars Celebration Chicago, Red Dot Diva asked Darren some nosy questions, so that you will get to know him better.

Red Dot Diva: How did you get started in the career of illustration?
Darren: I actually started in animation but through it, I discovered digital illustration and Photoshop. I bought myself a wacom tablet and thought myself how to paint by imitating other famous artists on the internet. Eventually, I got good enough that I left the animation field, and got hired at Imaginary Friends Studios (IFS), a local illustration studio led by Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau.

Red Dot Diva: How would you describe your art style, and what do you think makes it stand out from everyone else?
Darren: I would describe my style as “stylised realism”, as I’ve always been attracted to more realistic art styles found in fine art, but I also love a lot of western sci-fi and fantasy art found in movies, games and comics, all of which have been big influences on me as an artist. To elaborate further, although there is a realistic look to my artwork, it is not in a “real life” sense but more how I interpret it which is actually more idealized realism. I achieve it through the way I portray color and light, and using different types of brushes that provide texture to the artwork and to give it that painted feel that I like.

Red Dot Diva: You have done various types of art for Star Wars merchandise, what kind of packaging is the trickiest to do?
Darren: I can’t recall anything that was particular tricky, but I’ve done a few wrap-around panoramic pieces, and I always find those take a little more planning to get the layout and composition right. I usually work off of a template provided by my client, so as long as I follow that it’s not much of a problem.

Red Dot Diva: Your Star Wars artwork are so wonderful! They are eye-catching, bold, and the likeness to many of the beloved Star Wars movie characters is uncanny. How do you decide what kind of imagery or poses to use for a game or book?
Darren: A lot of it is just following a specific art brief provided to me by an art director. Most of the time, I’m allowed a degree of artistic freedom within the confines of the brief, but occasionally I do get to decide on the entire concept of the artwork itself. For such projects, I usually spend a lot of time conceptualizing it in my head before sketching it out on screen. Once I’m done with a couple or more sketches, I’ll send it to the art director for his/her feedback. Based on that feedback I would continue to refine and make adjustments to the artwork until I’m happy with the way it looks. At that point, I just put the finishing touches and send it off for final approval. One recent example of this is the artwork I did for my SW Celebration exclusive art print “Heart Of The Rebellion”. I basically had no direction for that and had to come up with the concept on my own and execute it. Fortunately, the idea for an alien-centric piece had been swirling around in my head for some time.
Red Dot Diva: I love that piece of art. It's high time Admiral Raddus is on centrestage!

Red Dot Diva: Do you read the books that you have drawn covers for? Which is your favourite?
Darren: I really enjoyed Thrawn Alliances, but I am not the cover artist for that book. I only did the Padme promotional poster that comes with it. I am however the cover artist for Delilah S. Dawson’s new book “Black Spire”, a tie-in novel to the upcoming Star Wars theme park Galaxy’s Edge and sequel to her first book “Phasma”. I will certainly be reading that one.

Red Dot Diva: How would you define a "perfect" book cover?
Darren: I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect book cover, haha. As long as it accurately conveys what the book or story is about and is visually eye-catching, that it would be easily picked out from a book shelf, then I’d say it’s an effective cover.

Red Dot Diva: Which Star Wars character do you find the most challenging to draw, and why?
Darren: I find Harrison Ford’s Han quite challenging actually. He has an asymmetrical face that is tricky to get right. Likewise I find Kylo Ren’s face to be of similar challenge though I haven’t had much opportunity to draw him with his mask off.
Red Dot Diva: Weirdly enough, at some angles, Adam Driver does look like Harrison Ford. And from the look of the Harrison Ford-Han Solo art you drew, I have to say, you nailed it!

Red Dot Diva: In this day and age, it's almost a given that a creative person needs to have a strong social media presence in order to succeed, or reach a wider audience. What kind of advice would you give to an artist who is starting out to make his art known to the world at large?
Darren: I’ve only recently gotten the hang of using social media to promote myself as an artist, so I wouldn’t say I am an expert at it. There’s still a lot I need to learn, but I agree it is a valuable platform for any aspiring artist. My tip is get an Instagram account and start posting your artwork, and do it regularly even if it is just simple sketches. I’ve seen artists on Instagram who have built a sizeable following just by doing sketches alone. Also, the earlier you start the better. I came into the Instagram scene late, and I’ve had to do a lot of catching up. Some times I feel its like a second job in itself, but if you want to build your reputation as an artist it is the way to go.

Red Dot Diva: What are you looking forward to at Star Wars Celebration Chicago?
Darren: Sooo many things! Biggest ones for me are definitely the Episode IX trailer and The Mandalorian” live-action tv series. Then, followed by Clone Wars season 7 news, Star Wars Resistance season 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and new Star Wars books announcements. On top of all that, I’m really looking forward to meeting other Star Wars fans, especially those I’ve followed on Youtube and social media over the years and hopefully a few celebrities, if I'm lucky ;) Last but not least, meeting my fans who have supported me and my art. Without them, this trip of a lifetime would likely not have been possible.

Heart of the Rebellion by Darren Tan

Red Dot Diva: What will you be offering at your Star Wars Celebration Chicago booth? Anything special we can look out for?
Darren: I will be selling and signing my limited edition SW Celebration exclusive art print “Heart Of The Rebellion” for fans and attendees at the ACME art show area. 

I will also working with Fantasy Flight Games in offering a second Celebration exclusive Darth Vader art print at their booth as part of a promotion for their SW Legion table top miniature game. I will have signing sessions with them for all 5 days of the event. (Click here for the signing schedule at Fantasy Flight Games' booth). Other than that, I’m just happy to talk to fans and geek out about Star Wars :)

For those who love collecting Star Wars art prints, don't miss out on getting one or more amazing artwork at Darren Tan's Star Wars Celebration's Art Show booth. You can find him at booth #2239 in the Exhibit Hall.


Follow to get more visual treats of Darren Tan's artwork on social media:

Facebook -
Instagram -

No comments:

Post a Comment