A few years back while scoping out Artist Alley, the above print caught my eye. In a sea of colour, a black and white print stood out. Seeing a black and white print of Jon Snow was awesome…and that’s how we met Alex Chung.
For those that have seen Alex’s booth, you will recognize his familiar black and white style, but he has also drawn a couple of great pieces in colour. Here are some of the prints that we have bought that showcases both styles.
The artist himself is a really nice guy, and we always like to stop by for a chat about his latest pieces or just life in general. I thought that he would be a great choice to help me wrap up my series on convention artists. So Alex, take it away…
Tell us a bit about why you became an artist? Where did you study? How long have you been in the industry and what is your main focus (sketches, comics, etc.)? Is there anything that a fan of your works wouldn’t know about you (that might surprise them)?
I absolutely love comic art. Ever since I was a little kid from a small town outside Squamish, BC, I was completely enamoured by Marvel and DC Comics, with X-Men and Green Lantern being my absolute faves. It wasn’t until I was in my very early teens that I realized drawing comics was actually a job. “People actually get paid to draw comics?!”. So becoming an artist was a huge dream for me. I never actually studied to become an artist…I just kept learning from my mistakes. To make a long story short, I actually got the opportunity I longed for and had the chance to illustrate some comics for Marvel Comics, not long after attending Wizard World Chicago Comic Con many years ago with sample pages in hand. Unfortunately, with a growing family in mind, I eventually had to leave comics to focus more of my work towards a full-time career as an illustrator for advertising agencies and for other notable clients such as the Toronto Raptors, which blessed me with the opportunity of creating all of the graffiti graphics and illustrations for their run in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. On a side note, I also created the illustrations on the special basketball shoes and cap given to Kobe Bryant from the Toronto Raptors as a special ‘Thank You’ gift commemorating his career in the NBA.
But my hiatus from comics didn’t last long as I started attending comic conventions several years ago, to get back into that creative mindset and to promote my artwork. Eventually my goal is towards self-publishing my own creator-owned pieces of work.
When did you start attending conventions as an artist?
I started approximately 3 years ago from this year’s Fan Expo Canada in Toronto. I didn’t start until I came across a lot of postings in social media from other artists promoting their artwork at comic cons. It was at this point I began to wonder why I wasn’t doing this and to this day I wish I had started much earlier.
How many do you go to a year?
I go to roughly 7 cons a year, mostly within Ontario with Montreal Comic Con and Vancouver Fan Expo being the only cons further out. I would like to eventually branch out to the US cons, however.
Have conventions changed when it comes to how they promote artists? (are they more supportive than they used to be or has it stayed the same?)
I’m finding a lot of cons have grown to include different genres with celebrities, voice actors and cosplayers…so there’s always a worry that this would lessen the focus on how artists are promoted. And I guess it would be easy to feel lost in this melting pot but I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a lot of people who have visited my table say that coming to Artist Alley is what they always look forward to coming to…so that’s a great thing to hear.
..and along that idea….
Do you see a difference in how convention organizers support different artists (such as independent artists vs. featured artists) or is everyone treated the same?
I can’t say for certain if there is a difference in how cons support different artists, but my thoughts would probably ring towards featured artists being noticeably treated better as they would be more of a draw towards getting more attendees in the door.
What is the best thing that you get out of attending conventions?
I get a huge kick out of the reaction from people who visit my table. And I also love the conversations I have with them. This interaction is pure gold to me and it really makes my day when I get to make people happy with my art. I also love the networking with other like-minded artists. It’s great to hear their stories and to share techniques. It’s a great motivator! And I have made a lot of friends with artists whose art I truly admire! As artists, we’re all in this wonderful journey together!
What is the worst thing about attending conventions?
I miss out on a lot of things being stuck to my table so I try to get my rounds usually just before the day begins. I also have this bad tendency to forget to eat! I get so busy talking to visitors that I forget to add fuel to the tank, so to speak. So if you meet me and I start to slur…I probably missed lunch. 😛
But definitely one of the worst things about attending cons is seeing some artists ‘shortchanging’ fans with downloaded and photoshopped imagery and reprinting them and selling them to unsuspecting fans. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to art and there’s something to be said about having art in your hands that was actually created by the artists’ hand and not just a copy…albeit an altered copy…of an image. I know the struggle and sometimes turmoil we all go through as artists to get that piece done the way we want. So much so, that it’s almost like a “piece” of the artist is in that piece of art you see before you. So I have a lot of respect for the art that we artists fight for.
How has attending conventions helped promote you as an artist?
It’s absolutely huge. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people who have either met me at a previous con or have seen my artwork on social media or who are now following me on social media after meeting me at a con. And I’m completely humbled after finding out some have actively been seeking me out at these cons. So I’m very thankful to the con experience.
What is the best/worst or strangest commission that you have ever been asked to do from a convention fan?
Worst would definitely be any nude or compromising requests…which I do not do under any circumstances. I love to draw everything and anything so just having the opportunity to even draw is the best! I know, that sounded like a cop out…but I truly enjoy every commission I work on. I absolutely love challenges.
What advice would you give to an artist that wants to use conventions as a way to promote him/herself?
Draw your heart out and put out your best work. Be enthusiastic and interact with your audience. These things will go a long ways to promote your art to make it and you memorable to your visitors. And a very important piece of advice: learn from your experience to take with you to your next con. What worked? What didn’t? With every con, you get better. Don’t let one bad experience dictate the rest but always let a good one motivate you for the next.
Thanks Alex, for taking the time to chat with me. If you would like to see more of Alex’s work, check him out at:
So that wraps up my little mini-series. A huge thanks to Alex, and again to Ken Wheaton and Liz Parkes for giving us all a glimpse into the world of the convention artist. Remember, all three with be attending this year’s Fan Expo in Toronto. Stop by their booths to say hi or better yet, buy some of their work!
See you there!
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