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Contributing a Voice: Interviewing Guest Artist Shuxian Lee

2015/4/7 — 11:29

【Text by Berny Tan】

“I believe in at least making work about what I have felt or experienced or strongly believe in. Only then do I feel the urge to make art at all.”

Antwerp-based illustrator Shuxian Lee is Asymptote’s guest artist for the January issue. Her joyous, Escher-esque cover image is perfect for our 4th anniversary, while her beautiful, evocative, and often poignant illustrations accompany a total of seventeen texts. I interview her about her process and inspirations, and find out more about her graphic novels.

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Berny Tan: I find your illustrations incredibly rich in both texture and colour. Could you take us through your process of conceiving and executing each piece?

Shuxian Lee: I’m quite a visual person—when I read something or feel something, I get these viewpoints in my head that are sometimes quite filmic and are related to a certain mood. Sometimes, when I come across certain expressions, I’m reminded of certain artworks or patterns that inspire me. I love to draw references to paintings because painters (mostly 19th- and 20th-century ones) are some of my biggest inspirations and first loves!

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Once I get this image in my head, then I’ll sketch thumbnails of some of the ideas—though to be honest, I’m quite lazy about this part because I usually already have the finished composition in my head. Next, I look for reference images for colour, gesture or to get the perspectives right, then I start sketching. I usually make my own reference images too, and I rely a lot on my partner (or myself) as a model for my characters.

If the sketch works, I get started with the inking, then I scan it and colour it in Photoshop. I love organic textures of paint and dirt and brush marks, so I try to integrate that during the digital colouring too. In general, I work with non-digital mediums, but it’s nice to discover ways to replicate the non-digital look on Photoshop. I actually only started using Photoshop to colour a few years ago, so I’m still figuring out lots of things.

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