This artist’s story is nothing short of exceptional. Not only his work is world-class, the circumstances that have led him to become what he is shows there is no excuse for mediocrity. At 18 years old, Emmanuel Shiu had a terrible accident that pinned him to a wheelchair ever since. With courage and perseverance, he overcame adversity to reach the upper echelon in the realm of digital art.

CGS: Did this accident change your career plans at the time?

Emmanuel Shiu: It actually didn't change my plans because I really didn't have any plans prior to my accident. i was going to school at art center for photography at that point. I was just a young kid who really didn't know anything aside from the fact that I liked photography. After my accident I took a couple of years off due to being in the hospital and trying to learn to walk again. When I realized that walking wouldn't be in the cards for me , I decided to look into art and what I wanted to do with my was round about the time of Jurassic park ( the first one) and I remember thinking it would so cool to work on movie like that!

CGS: Did that help with your determination to become the world-class artist you have become today?

Emmanuel Shiu: After my accident I went through a lot of therapy and spent a long time in hospital. It was probably the hardest thing I've had to endure in my life. But through that accident , I got to understand how to persevere through adversity. If I could get through that, nothing was impossible. All it takes is hard work and a positive attitude!

CGS:  Artists come and go in this industry, what is the key to success and longevity you think?

Emmanuel Shiu:  The key to lasting In This industry is to first and foremost make sure this is what you love. A lot of artist come into the field "thinking this is what they want because it's a "cool" Industry.  Then they find out they're not that into it after awhile. Loving it is only a start though, you have to constantly reinvent yourself and Learn new software in order to stay current. 

My best advice would be to  find out what concept art really is. I'm constantly surprised when most people starting out have no real idea of what concept art really is. They go into it thinking concept art is really just drawing or painting good looking images, when in reality concept art is really about design. The technique of painting and drawing is just a way to present the work.

CGS: You have the chance to do a lot of work in games and film. How different is the process for you?

Emmanuel Shiu: The processes are pretty much the same for me. The most important factor is who you're actually collaborating with. That Usually dictates how things are to be done. Some film production designers like things more thought out and others like it loose. Same for art director at game companies. The major difference is designing for game play vs story for film.

CGS:  What kind of projects attract you the most?

Emmanuel Shiu: I'm attracted most to science fiction and fantasy projects, but most importantly I seek out a working relationship with really good people. It's through that relationship that my work will actually blossom and be most useful for the project.

CGS: If you could go back in time and work on any film ever made, what would it be?

Emmanuel Shiu: I would have loved to be able to work on the original Star Wars( yes cliche I know :))

CGS: And work for any director?

Emmanuel Shiu: I really appreciate Ridley Scott and guillermo del toro . I love the way they see  film, Working with them would be such an honor!

CGS: When you meet students and people just starting in the industry, what do they ask you the most and what do you tell them?

Emmanuel Shiu: They usually ask me what they should do and how to get into the industry. And I think that's the reason why I did a YouTube with my student to explain what it takes to get in.i tell them pretty much the same thing, 10000 hours. Do anything for 10000 hours and you will be a professional. That 10000 hours has to be deliberate practice not just mindless repetition. This is where school and guidance will help. So I usually look at where they're at skill wise and give them a brief breakdown of what they need help on. 

Another piece of advise is to choose something that interests you. While it's great to be well rounded, I find that work usually suffers. I'm of the mindset to concentrate on what you love and get really good at it. You can't sharpen 5 knives at once , choose the one or two knives and make them really sharp.

CGS: Where would you like to be 10 years from now?

Emmanuel Shiu: I would like the be happy. Simple as that. :)

Related Links:

Emmanuel Shiu's web-site.