Architecture and Design

Question The Artist: Illustrator Sachin Teng

Last week, we took a quick look Behind The Cover without the artist in question to give us his insight and thoughts that we usually inquire about. Fortunately, the illustrator of everyone's favorite Gorilla Vs. Bear cover is back from his secret mission in the Far East and has provided us with the answers to our questions.

Check out what he has to say about dissecting ideas, Saturday morning cartoons, and finding a style. 

Tell us a little about yourself; when/how did you begin doing what you do today and where do you reign from?
I was born and raised in New York. My parents though, are from Taiwan. My father was an artist, so growing up there was a radar for any possible inheritance of talent. And because everyone wanted to coax it out of me I figured out early I had the disposition for it. Or at least that's what they gathered from my crayola crayon sketches. Whether I would do it when I got older I didn't know because, I mean, I was a kid. An infant's life choices are visceral not cerebral. So without much surprise, my first happy experience I can remember with art is Saturday Morning cartoons on the Channel Eleven, Toonami and old VHS tapes of Akira and Ghibli movies. And at the time, I thought, damn.

Within your body of work, what would you consider to be your specialty? What are some things as an artist you wish to do more of?
My specialty I'd say is the dialogue. I always think about what my work wants to say and then I design to communicate that feeling, because when your work has a conversation it isn't necessarily a narrative. Sometimes it's quite literally aesthetics having a conversation, like digital pixels and flowers. It doesn't specifically say anything, but how it's composed creates a message. Is it dominating on top or hiding underneath, or large and overbearing, breaking apart and so on. As far as things I still want to explore, at the moment it's this splicing slice and dice thing I've come to like. I've always liked dissecting things, and this is quite literally dissecting, but in a painting you could be dissecting an idea or an emotion. Cut open a tree and find a heart inside. Something I've only touched the surface of.

In the time you've been illustrating, have there been any major obstacles to overcome in the evolution of your work? Have there been challenges that were NOT anticipated?
Style. Style is little talked about before you get into art school and talked too much about once there. College at times seemed like a mad race to develop and construct a style, something we'd stew over in our studios with constant experimentation to invent something that would put us on the map, make us great famous illustrators or something. But teaching in itself was always on obstacle for this. To teach means to learn the proven methods that others before you have done before you and achieved success, however, to be unique you must do something that no one has done. It was counterintuitive. You only find a style once you stop looking for one. Very Obiwan Kanobi. I secretly write fortune cookies.

Who can you credit as a major artistic influence(s) to your style/kind of work? As a kid it was art museums; Pollock, Rothko and so on. Later it was cartoons and anime when I was around twelve. Then comics and editorial illustration in college. But now, it's all of them. 

I have to give credit to Frank Stockton and James Jean for inspiring early inceptions of my work. I know there are those that like that work from me, but the world already has a Frank Stockton and James Jean, it doesn't need another. While there influence will always be partially felt I'm trying to find my own groove. 

What are some "non-artistic" sources of inspiration for you, if any?
Everything that's a part of visual culture whether or not you consider it art influences my work. Digital decay and glitches and, pixelated 90's video games, old school off register printing, retro Hanna-Barbera and Japanese Animation, sticker bomb graffiti, Buddhist temples, antique furniture, package design. You name it. 

Are there any new/exciting big projects on the horizon for yourself?
No, I just finished up a bunch though. But if there are any takers I'd love to get some jobs! 

Lastly, is there a "dream" client/project that you wish to get your hands on someday?
I've got two lists! Commercial and prestigious. I'm sure everyone says the cover of Time, lots of glam and fills you're wallet. But personally, I've always liked Wired. But, I'm a tech dork, so what do I know. I mean, I'd like to have a painting hang in the Guggenheim, Whitney or MoMA (Check! Very small time thing though) but a huge payout would be awesome too. I want to make my Black Swan but you have to make No Strings Attached too.  

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Alexander Flores
Contact: Alexander Flores