Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I've always been fascinated by comic book style art, especially the old anime classics like DragonBall Z and Naruto. I like to see how artists can push the boundaries of this style and in looking for that I found Warrick Wong. Wong is a brilliant artist whose works in recreating classic characters and producing his own originals is really striking. His work in digital mediums is so clean and technically proficient and when he works by hand he adds a similar level of detail with the allowance of more expression. Wong's character's are so mobile and strong, you can feel the motion in them, you can feel exactly what they're doing.
Wong has become quite an accomplished character designer, to the point where he's had two comic book series of his own. Another fascinating element that Wong has been implementing into his work is animation. They're not full scale cartoons, but just simple and subtle animation features that add to the illustration. It's almost as if his animations can stand alone as a series of stills, it's really cool. I was very excited to get to have a short chat with Wong about his work and its development. It's super easy to read and ingest while still being pretty darn informative! Enjoy!
1. To begin, I always start by asking about the artist's background. So what got you started in art? Any schooling? Big inspirations? What made you the artist that you are today?
I’ve always been drawing since I was a kid but my year 10 art teacher helped motivate me to want to pursue art in my future. When I got to uni I realised the course (Industrial Design) wasn’t for me and that I wanted to figure out how to make art a viable career from it. That’s when I started to teach myself how to improve my art and I also started to attend Conventions and building my online presence.
Some of my favourite artists that inspire me today are Terada Katsuya, Yoji Shinkawa, Miura and Inoue Takehiko.
2. Your illustration work is incredibly elaborate, whether it's totally original or an expansion of a universe of recognizable imagery. But how does the drawing and detail process differ from when you're starting totally from scratch vs. when you're using a character from a show like DBZ or Naruto?
Having an established character usually makes it easier because designing a fresh character is often difficult to make appealing. With that said creating original character can be very liberating during the brainstorming period because you can go wild with creativity.
3. Speaking more to a broad process, how does your work begin? Are they rigorously planned out or do you start with an idea and let it expand organically as you go?
It’s a 50 50 process. Depending on the complexity or topic I can either start by free styling or I start off with some prep work before diving into the final piece.
4. Your work has two avenues, the hand done and the digital. Starting with your hand done illustrations, they're primarily black and gray with much more expressive (loose) strokes. Do you enter these pieces with a bit of a looser touch or less pressure to refine? How does creating the depth in this work with shades of black differ from working with color?
The ink drawings are definitely more expressive and the digital is more technical for me which helps me to broaden my creativity.
5. Moving to your more digitally refined and colorful work, how do these pieces begin? do they start similarly to your hand done illustrations or do you not have to go as in depth in the base drawings?
I try and keep the work flow the same as my ink drawings. Working with digital allows me to have the flexibly of easily adjusting mistakes and experiment with lots of options without the painstaking process of using a rubber to erase and redo my traditional work.
6. Your digital work is also much more atmospheric, usually featuring a scene or some sort of surrounding elements. So, how does setting a character in a scene alter your illustration process?
Working in digital makes it a lot faster to add in those elements which is why I prefer to draw characters with ink which I can then scan in and Redner further digitally.
7. Recently I've seen you take some of your illustrations and turn them into simple animations, what inspired this? Is this a process you'd like to dive deeper into?
These animations we for fun and I didn’t realise how it can push my art even further. I will definitely be doing more of them in the future!
8. You've got your own graphic novel(s) that you illustrate and write yourself. How does the writing process emerge and alter you work? Are you making this on your own from start to finish?
Yes I made both comic ZODIAC and storybook Princess Nyissa: The Legend of the Lost Light on my own. It all started with the main character and I built a world around them then came the story. The story was revised many, many times before the illustrations were drawn.
9. Are there any new avenues that you're looking to pursue as far as your work is concerned? Or any new outlets that you'd like to use to push your current work?
I would like to write and illustrate more stories as well as push my animations further. I’ve also been looking at ways to jump onto the YouTube band wagon.
10. Finally, PLUGS! Where can people find your work? Any shows or events coming up? Anything and everything that you'd like to share with our readers, let them know!
IG and Twitter @warrickwong