One-on-one with Zenith Chan

Today Boneshaker Press presents you Zenith Chan who contributes to the third volume of Encounters with the Imaginary. Check out Zenith on her website !

What’s your background?

I’m currently attending college for a Bachelor’s degree in Animation Art in Singapore.

What got you interested in the arts to begin with?

I really loved everything to do with fiction as a child. Drawing, as well as writing, was one of the many ways I was able to immerse myself in the worlds that I created.

When did you decide to dedicate yourself to art?

Sometime in eighth grade, when I really began to work more in digital art and pushing myself to improve, I realised that this was something I wanted to pursue in the future.

Do you remember the first piece of art you made that you were really proud of? The one that made you say “yes I am an artist!”

I don’t exactly recall! All I know is that ever since I was five years old, I have never stopped drawing. I have always been an artist and always will be.

zenith_chan_will-o-wisp
Will-o-Wisp – digital

Do you collect anything?

It’s rather expensive to keep up with, but I do collect enamel pins and artbooks! It’s a nice feeling to display them on my shelf at home knowing that I was able to support my favourite artists. Having a physical collection of inspiration holds a different weight than simply compiling digital moodboards on your computer.

Do you enjoy collaboration work? What qualities do you look for in collaborators?

I often organise personal group projects such as zine collaborations. I’m also the main person among my friends who hosts group orders whenever we want to get merch made. During such experiences I’ve learned that responsibility, organisation, and punctuality are super important for not only getting things done on time, but also for getting things done at all. As a result, whenever I join collaboration projects as a participant and not as an organiser, I can keep these things in mind and will do my best not to hold anyone down because I know exactly how it feels!

Do you ever feel like giving up and doing something else? If so, why and how have you overcome that feeling?

Definitely. I struggle with overcoming the toxic mindset that is perpetuated within some sections of the art community; that mindset is that of the “tortured artist”. There have been many times where I viewed myself as less of an artist for having other hobbies, for not drawing every single day, etc. As if you must suffer for your art. Seeing other much younger artists with large followings and amazing art doesn’t help, either. However, I’m working on changing this mindset and telling myself that just because I’m taking a break doesn’t mean I’m giving up. Art is a journey, and for me, one that will last a lifetime—so I don’t need to rush.

zenith_chan_wisdom
Wisdom – mixed media

 

What themes/ideas do you pursue?

Most of the time, I don’t know how to describe my own feelings in words, so I paint instead. My ideas are based off of my own jumble of thoughts and contemplations regarding the human psyche and the human experience. A lot of my work relies on atmosphere and colour to express this kind of emotion.

What is your dream project? If there were no time/money restrictions what would you create?

It would be my dream to create a game. I have always loved the unique way that gaming can tell a meaningful story. I have several project ideas that I’ve been slowly building over the past few years, one of which is a story-based rhythm game of a dark world that sees light for the very first time and the blind musician who navigates it.

What does visual storytelling mean to you?

For me, visual storytelling is a means of expressing my own feelings and emotion. I love how a single picture has enough power to tell an entire story and, if done just enough, it can leave enough room for the audience to interpret it in their own unique ways.

zenith_chan_sad_day
Sad day – Children book

What was your first step towards being a professional?

I think the first step is acknowledging yourself as an artist. I often see online artists labeling themselves in their descriptions as “amateur artist” or “aspiring artist”, and back when I was younger, I was definitely one of those people. However, the moment I removed that disclaimer, it was like my mindset changed as well. After this, I began putting myself out there more, taking commissions, selling my work, etc. When you have confidence in yourself, people are more likely to be confident in your work, too.

What’s your main challenge when beginning a new piece of art?

Knowing what I want to draw. I know there are lots of people out there who can paint without having anything in mind, but for me, I prefer at least some kind of planning beforehand or else I just can’t draw!

zenith_chan_skippy
Skippy – Pokemon Fan art – digital

 

Was there a moment or decision that was a big setback? And what did you take away from that?

One of the biggest decisions I had to make was taking a gap year right in the middle of my second year in college. What led up to this decision was the then recent repetitive strain injury (RSI) of my drawing hand, and what followed was a spiral down into depression as I struggled to catch up with my assignments. I was terrified of being left behind by my peers but finally, after much discussion, pulled out to give myself a much-needed break. Now, as I’m nearing the end of my gap year, I’ve realised just how necessary it was for me—not only for my health, but also for myself as a creative. I’d forgotten what it was like to just relax and do things unrelated to art. I’d forgotten what it was like to draw simply because I wanted to, and not because I had to. I realised that my whole life didn’t have to be just about art, and that it’s okay to invest my time in other things that interest me, too.

What are you working on right now? What are you currently obsessed with?

At the moment I’m building my shop by designing and putting out new merch! I have spent this past year attending as many boothing events as possible which I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

Would you eat the moon if it were made of spare ribs?

No, but I’d definitely eat the moon if it were made out of my favourite tom yum noodle soup!

zenith_chan_sausage_pasta
Sausage pasta – digital

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