An inteview with artist Andy Park

Posted on January 20, 2009

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I had the pleasure of meeting Andy Park a few years ago through a mutual friend. Andy has been known for his spectacular comic book art and innovative concept work over the years. He took me on a tour of Sony Entertainment while he was working as a concept artist on the video game God of War. I am so pleased that he was able to share a few thoughts on his creative process. 

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If you had to describe your artistry in one word, what would it be?
Can it be 3 words?  Concept Artist/Illustrator  

How did you develop a love for your art?
From as far as I can remember I was always drawing.  It was just a great outlet for me as a kid and it engaged my mind like nothing else.  I would just draw for hours at a time.  And the positive feedback I would get from my parents and others just pushed me forward to fall in love with creating images on paper.  

What inspires you?
A lot of things inspire me.  But I would say mostly people inspire me.  I get inspired to see inspired people, passionate people, people who work hard at what they do, and people who love what they do.  I think that’s why I love seeing the behind the scene documentaries on movies so much.  I love seeing the creative process and how much everyone is passionate about the work they’re doing.  That’s definitely infectious.  I also get inspired by the visual world around us, nature, man-made objects, animals, people walking by.  I love observing everything around me.  And of course, visual art, whether it be comic books, illustrations, doodles.  Artwork I find in books and on the internet inspire me daily.

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Describe your ‘creative process’.
My technical approach differs depending on the type of work I’m doing- Illustration, comic books, concept art, storyboards, etc.  But the thinking behind most of the work I do is very similar.  I think about the message, or in my case, the story, I’m trying to communicate.  So, I’ll first think about the basic concepts I want to come through in my drawing or painting.  A lot of times I will start to doodle and sketch out ideas.  But many times I will start out with research.  I probably do this most of the times.  I find this crucial because the more information and knowledge I have about a subject the more ideas come flowing out of my head.  After all, ideas don’t just come out of thin air.  Of course there’s inspiration, but it came from somewhere.  And once I have enough information and knowledge about something I can begin jotting down ideas on paper, whether it be words, sentences, whatever.  I find that if I sit back for a second and actually think before I draw it tends to focus my mind when I begin to put my pencil to the paper (or in my case in this stage of my career, Wacom pen to digital tablet).  It after this preparation that I can run and have fun with the drawing or painting.  

 Of course there is merit in drawing or painting with no preparation in mind, with no actual story in mind as well.  I tend to do this a lot also usually when I’m doing personal paintings or drawings in my sketchbook.  This is totally valid too and sometimes the best drawings or paintings are created this way.  But this rarely works on the job.  It’s more of an exercise, like free dance rather than a beautiful choreographed dance routine.  

 

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What is a common mistake you notice during the create process.
I would say jumping in without proper preparation seems to be a common mistake people make during the creative process.  I see so many artists rely only on what they know.  They stick to what they’re comfortable with and don’t feel the need to expand beyond their own borders. Some people call this their “style.”  Style is great and every artist does inevitably develop their style of signatures.  But the mistake is when that style becomes more of a crutch.  In drawing/painting I hear artists say that they don’t use reference, or more accurately, that they don’t need to use reference anymore.  I’m totally against this idea.  It’s basically saying that you’ve learned everything you need to learn and that you’ve “arrived.”  I don’t think an artist should ever “arrive.”  And no artist should ever stop referencing.  When I say referencing, I mean researching from life, books, the internet, photographs, the mirror, other artists’ works, etc.  

How do you think your art form has evolved during this generation?

I think my art has evolved in ways not possible in any other generation.  I always talk about this with my fellow concept artists.  We live in a very unique time in history because of one thing- the internet.  I truly believe that this invention (thanks Mr. Gore) has changed everything.  When I was growing up as a kid my dream was to become a comic book artist. Why?  Because that was all that was in front of my face when it came to drawing/art. Basically, I was ignorant.  I never even knew about other options.  I never heard about concept art, visual development, layout artist, and the list goes on.  So, with the internet came a flood of information.  And as I began to see what was out there my thirst to grow my art grew everyday, and I began to develop my art beyond just the borders of comic books.  I discovered so many different types of artists and different career options.  It was like a sea of never ending inspiration.  Also, the resources available are just incredible.  You technically don’t need to go to an art school to learn anymore (although I do still always advise young artists to go to an art school if possible).  So, we definitely live in a generation where the possibilities are truly endless.  

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What’s the next season of creating look like for you?
That’s a good question.  I don’t really know the answer to this.  I’ve always enjoyed what I have been doing at the time.  When I was drawing comic books in the ’90s to early 2000s I was loving it.  And in the past 5 years or so I’ve been doing concept art for video games and television and I’m having the time of my life.  I know that I do want to do more work for films at some point, so that would be fun.  But I would really love to be able to create something that is my own.  I do have some ideas of illustrating some original graphic novel type books in the future.  But that’s probably a long ways away.  I did start this at various points in my career and always hit a wall realizing just how difficult it is to create something from scratch on your own.  That’s why I’ve been collaborating with a friend of mine to help make this a reality.  So that is something I’m excited to do in the future.  But as far as this next season is concerned, I’m not exactly sure where God will lead me.  I wouldn’t know that this is how my career would pan out thus far, so it’ll be fun to see where I’ll end up next.  

Thank you for Andy for sharing your art with us.

Check out more of his work at www.andyparkart.com.

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