What is the very first thing you remember drawing?
I must have been no older then perhaps 3 or 4 - drawing battleships, trying to figure out how their shape changed from different sides and angles. As a kid I went everywhere with paper and pencils, drawing everything. I’ve been drawing since before I even really remember.
When did you first realize you may be able to make a living from this?
That realization came during 2012, towards the end of high school, as I needed to find a career to focus on. When I was younger (around 15 years old) I was fascinated and drawn to sciences and engineering. However, I soon realised I did not personally have the mind for that kind of vocation. It was then that I branched out and took a second look at my artistic skills, which pushed me to illustration and concept art, and through my own research and inquiries I realised there was a very profitable industry in games, and then I was driven to pursue a career in this field.
Have you got any feedback from industry professionals?
Yes I have, and it has played a massive role in my development. During my time at Syn Studio (where I took classes and studied) many of our teachers were professionals in the movie and game industry as well as illustrators, like Jeevan Dhamindra, Charles Vinh, Meinert Hansen, Donglu Yu. They really pushed me with their feedback. I also look for feedback on Facebook where I occasionally ask professionals for critiques as well as participating in the Level Up group where a massive community of professionals and students also give me feedback. One important thing to remember, which I think a few artists have trouble with, is accepting and learning from feedback, and not getting defensive but staying proactive to constantly push yourself. It’s an important skill to learn, especially if you work under an art director.
Also, Charles Vinh was particularly very important. He is an illustrator here in Canada, and I credit him largely for having taught me so much about color theory and lighting, as well as having taken traditional painting classes with him, he showed me a lot of techniques that were invaluable in my development.
What artists have inspired you the most in your style?
I’ve had a lot of people tell me my style is similar to that of Feng Zhu, but I had that feedback long before I knew who he was or what his work looked like. I try to learn techniques from other artists, but I try to stay away from directly replicating their style and instead look to real world inspiration to inspire me. For example, for me Insects and fungi are very inspiring for me. As well as Chinese architecture and culture.
What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are?
Right now my weakness is character design. While I think I can sketch characters pretty well I still have a long way to go on my character design painting. And, of course my greatest strength is environmental design which is more my focus, as well as technological design which I am trying to get into more.
What kind of projects would you like to be involved with?
Looking ahead I’d really like to work on an MMORPG. - something open world, Sci-Fi or fantasy. Of course anything like Halo or Destiny would also be a dream come true to work on as well.
Do you have a motto?
Yes and its simple: “Don't try. Succeed” meaning try, and try again and work hard until you successfully get the results you strode towards. I remember going to a coffee shop at 10AM, and just painting for 14 hours till 2AM, and repeating that almost every day for weeks and months, constantly trying to push my style.
Thanks Will, we are looking forward to hearing more about that secret project, and seeing more of your work in the years to come!