What can I say, I’m a sucker for illustrations that remind me of fairy-tales. As such, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the ethereal work of Kmye Chan. Her gorgeous images are created with a range of traditional materials (watercolours, inks and pens to name but a few), and have more than a hint of Parisian Gothic chic.
Kmye took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Ape on the Moon about what makes a good illustration, and the pain of drawing men.
What influences your style?
Many things really! I was born and raised in the midst of French, Belgian and Japanese comic books, which have influenced my work a lot.
I also love haunting museums whenever I find time, and my work has picked up many influences and stylistic elements from classical paintings (Renaissance Italian painters, Flemish masters, 18th century Rococo style) and from more recent artists as well (19th century Pre-raphaelites, Art-Nouveau artists, and surrealists).
Like most other artists, I’m influenced by the surrounding art scene, and although I’m not as avid an image-junkie as some are, I love browsing the internet to follow the work of my favourite artists, discover new ones, and also look for inspiration material such as fashion photographs or reference pictures.
How do you come up with new ideas?
I don’t really have a process to find new ideas. They just pop in my head unexpectedly, because of something I saw or heard or read that suddenly makes me think “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…?”. On the other hand, I try to put some work into defining the original rough idea into something new and interesting, rather than starting a drawing head-on.
I almost always keep the new ideas in a corner of my head for a few days or weeks (or… months, sometimes), and I try to make them grow a little, see how I can expand on them and turn them into something deeper and more complete. I rarely sketch or write before I actually get started with the artwork, though.
What do you think makes a good illustration?
There’s two parts to a good illustration, in my opinion. The first one is an eye-catching, effective style: the drawing style, color-scheme and medium must be appropriate to conveying the right mood for a picture – but still different and unique enough for it to stand out.
This requires part good technique, and part knack for knocking off the right picture composition and spirit. The second part to a good illustration is a good subject. A good picture should tell a story, make the viewer wonder and want to look more closely to know more about it.
An illustration may be perfect from a technical point of view, but still very boring, if it does not have an interesting and original subject. Now, both these parts are much easier said than done (you can’t succeed at both everytime, I guess…)!
Why don’t you draw men?
Well, as a matter of fact, I do draw men occasionally – I just hardly ever find the drive to finish the pictures! I don’t relate as strongly to male characters as to my girly girls, so I usually run out of inspiration when drawing males. I guess my work really is about very feminine feelings (or at least I feel so because I am a girl…).
I do plan to try and draw more men someday soon, though (I have one picture in mind in particular that I would very much like to draw that depicts a male character).
What’s next for Kmye Chan?
I will be part of a couple of group shows at the end of the year: one in Paris (Tribute to SkyDoll group show at La Gallery in November), and probably another one that is not confirmed yet, so I can’t tell for the moment. After that… no idea! Hopefully fame and fortune, right?
© Kmye Chan 2010