Illustrator Interview: Tang Yau Hoong

Illustrator Interview: Tang Yau Hoong

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words.

Conceptual, surreal, minimalist.

How did you get started in illustration? Did you always want to be an artist?

I started doing illustrations for T-shirt design. From 2007 to 2011 I submitted hundreds of illustrations to T-shirt design contest websites and when I won some of the contests the designs would get printed and sold on their websites. It was this period I developed my style and decided to give it a shot to become a full time illustrator. I set up my own website and joined several social media platforms to increase my online exposure. I am grateful that I had the opportunities to work on various projects ranging from editorial to commercial.

Cows in fields

How do you approach a new illustration, where do you start?

I would start with brainstorming and sketching while browsing random images or anything that I find interesting or inspiring. The process could take from hours to days until I finally come up with some ideas that I am satisfied with. My illustration is almost fully digital but the brainstorming and sketching part is where I still use my pen and sketchbook.

Graduation hat

What inspires you?

Looking back at most of my illustrations, I think my inspirations are mostly from my visual memories and stimulations. For example, I would do sketching of an animal, a silhouette, or an object in various forms and styles and when I look at some of my own sketches again I might be able to connect something and see something new in it.

What’s been your favourite topic to illustrate / favourite illustration and why?

My favourite topic would change from time to time as I believe coming up with new ideas are like growing crops. Farmers practice crop rotation to optimise nutrients in the soil. Therefore I think alternating between different subjects would be beneficial to my idea bank as well.

What’s been your most challenging commission?

There was a commission where I have to come up with unique and original negative space art using only 2 to 3 colours in a very minimalist style. I would say it was my most challenging project as it took me weeks to refine the sketches. To quote Leonardo Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. And I couldn’t agree more when I am working on projects that require me to do less to achieve more.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

Currently my illustrations are almost fully digital so I would say digital art is still my favourite approach given its flexibility. But I really look forward to go back to traditional painting one day in my personal projects as I think it is still something irreplaceable.

What does your workspace say about you? Include a photo.

It’s literally a work in progress as I have just recently moved house!

Tang Yau Hoong Office

What bit of kit can’t you live without?

I think it would be my smartphone simply because it has become so versatile and we can do almost anything with it now.

Cityscape of lights from chest

Do you have any other creative endeavours outside of illustration?

At the moment I’m experimenting with digital painting and would really love to explore more on how to animate my work in future.

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you.

There are many artists that I find inspirational and I think René Magritte is probably the first artist that I admire when I first started my career.

Tang Yao Hoong's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Tang Yao Hoong self portrait

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