Kin

Connecting Liverpool's Creatives

kin meets
Stephen Chan

Stephen is a Freelance Illustrator / Graphic Designer and a founder member of the design portal ‘Thunder Chunky’.  Stephen is also a Tiger AKA  (Asian Kinetic Artist) and his work has been exhibited in London, Berlin, Boston, Beijing, Tokyo, Kyoto, Manila, Melbourne and several other cities.

How did you get started in the creative sector?

Having graduated from product design, (but wanting to pursue the Graphic / Media area of design more) I entered many work placements to build up all the basic graphics skills and processes from scratch.

I helped out in several areas of design, then naturally fell in to / developed more, the graphics / illustration based side of design. Wanting to focus more on developing and improving my illustrations, and having the freedom to make my own decisions, I decided to pursue a freelance career.

Stephen Chan

What makes you unique?

My work is mostly character driven, and often involves large, isometric detailed landscapes and scenery. I try to put my own spin on the isometric style, because illustrators like eboy and Rod Hunt have already established themselves at the top with this style, so it’s hard to stand out.

I like to mix in more organic shapes, like clouds and smoke, or soften the sharp edges of the vectors with textures and rounded objects sometimes. And because most of my work is usually screen printed, the colour palette is very simple. I also like to create patterns from time to time, if the appropriate project and idea form in that way.

Stephen Chan

What has been your most exciting project / biggest challenge / biggest achievement to date?

My illustrations were used as the main branding for the Metropolis themed Tiger Translate events around several countries in Asia 2010/12 and a limited edition Tiger Beer bottle wrap. It was on a variety of online media, printed media, t-shirts, back drops, and heavily publicised in several design magazines and newspapers.

Stephen Chan

Have you collaborated with any other Liverpool Based creatives? On what project / Why?

When I first left university, (many years ago) I did placements and helped out at quite a few Liverpool based design studios, from Smiling Wolf, Sparkle Media, and lastly Splinter, who took me in as a Junior graphic designer / illustrator.

I still work quite closely with Splinter, providing graphics and illustration services on several projects, including a BBC project, which I’m helping out with on infographics.

I also have a really good relationship with a local web design and app development agency, 3BYTE who I share the office with, sharing and developing ideas regularly.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

It’s really difficult to say right now, as Illustration is such a flexible skill, being applicable to most creative areas, from print (packaging, posters, apparel, etc) to digital (games, apps, animation, etc).

I do have a dream of opening a gallery / studio / shop / café to provide a space for all the creative friends I’ve made through the years, and hold exhibitions and shows that I would like to attend. I do have a long list of targets written down, that I hope I can complete by then.

Stephen Chan

What projects are on the horizon?

Many, many, many exciting projects slowly being conjured up this year. One of the collectives that I’m involved with, Brothers of the Stripe will be participating at Pick Me Up, the UK’s first annual contemporary graphic art fair 2013. There’s a possibility that I’ll be having my first Solo exhibition at this years Hong Kong Art Fair… and if I have time, I should be collaborating on some animations with a local Aftereffects expert, and game designs with 3Byte.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I don’t have many hobbies other than Art and design, so anime and movies are where my inspiration stems mostly.

I think nature, objects and things that you didn’t really notice, (or that didn’t really have any effect on you before) can suddenly inspire a great idea. It depends on the current project you’re working on, and current frame of mind.

Stephen Chan

Lastly, maybe talking to and listening to other artists and friends. Learning from each others experiences and knowledge. Sharing ideas and developing them, to see things from a different perspective.

Do you think Liverpool is a good city to do business in? Why/why not?

I’ve been really lucky, coming right out of university and meeting many friendly and creative people. Since becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool has rapidly grown as a city and a creative hub, and I’m excited to see how things evolve, especially with developments like the Baltic Creative popping up.

View Stephen’s profile to explore more of his work.
Photography by Craig Magee.