Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the
direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?
Yes, it definitely allowed me to see the areas I am lacking in and gave me a clear direction of where I should go. I was very surprised when all of my mentors told me the same thing, that they all like the same work and they encouraged me to bring that same feeling and energy to the rest of my portfolio pieces. I wanted to test it for myself so I used different styles of my work with 3 different stories. I have some animation background and sometimes I ask myself too many questions to make my work better but I realize that if I rely more on how I feel about something and my intuitive and emotional feelings rather than logical sense, my artwork will show the true "me" better.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
As I am working as a designer full time at an animation company, when I come home, I continue to pursue what I like to do in order to fulfill my creative freedom. I've been working with a writer who I met two years ago at the university, and I've been working on his manuscript. Also, I've never made a book dummy before, so I am challenging myself to make one with a story and style that my mentors encouraged me to go with. With all the helpful advice and feedback that I received from the SCWBI LA conference, I am slowly digesting them and trying to make it into my own. Hopefully, I can come up with something that I would like to bring to the NY conference in 2016.
Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?
Yes I do! Currently I have a very clear vision and idea of an illustration style and book I want to make! I showed it to mentors and they agreed that it has a good concept and one of my mentors told me how to combine these ideas to create them into a book dummy. I'm very excited!
Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of bad advice?
When I was in my second year at university, I've always liked to browse fine artists, painters, illustrators, character designers, and visual development artists. My intuition told me that I would like to be an independent artist. I tried to follow and learn from some independent artists I met in Toronto. However the person who I got the strongest advice from was from Dice Tsutsumi, a former art director at Pixar. His advice was: "Follow your heart and never give up" and now he found his own studio to pursue his dream.
His honesty and sincere advice is something I always like to remember in order to pursue this fun journey!
It's hard to grasp if there was a bad advice, because I think everyone has a different interpretation of their career path and life event that happens to them; It might work for them. I think the most important thing for an individual is to discover what they are good at and head for that goal. Therefore, I don't see any feedback that was not helpful.
What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?
My favorite quote would be: "If writing is not for you, just put text in the story with illustration!" When I heard this, it really moved me and really encourage me to write with my illustrations. Before I heard this quote, I was afraid of writing because I am a visual thinker. Images always come to me first and I note it down on my sketchbook so I never thought writing is something for me but after hearing this at the conference, it changed my perspective and inspired me to challenge myself with writing!
What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?
When I was a kid, I liked poetic feelings and metaphors in the story. Something simple, one of greatest book I liked to read was "The Giving Tree." I thought the story was just so beautiful...it tells you the whole story of the relationship of the tree and the boy, how the tree gives the boy everything… It was a heart- warming with a hint of sadness story that touched my heart emotionally as a child.
Where can we find you online?
My website: www.nicholashongart.com
If anyone have any questions, any comments, its best to get in touch with me through email.
Thank you for taking the time to read my interview and all the support I got from SCBWI! It is truly warm and encouraging! :D