Born in Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia. Sebastian Cheng’s artistic bent manifested itself early when he would doodle in his primary school classes. That paid off and he has not laid down the pencil since. Majoring in Illustration, Sebastian Cheng landed his first job as a comic colorist for Hong Kong Comic industries. His work involvement includes the best selling comic Storm Riders (Fung Wan). Pretty soon, he broke into U.S. and Australia market as a comic colorist with project like Carbongrey. Additionally, he pursue his art career as an professional illustrator. Subsequent project included trading card game illustration for Japan and U.S like Asterisk Game Graphics and Solforge( the creators of Magic:The Gathering).Occasionally, he worked with several International advertising agencies for a wide variety of global commercial clients like Lux, Clear, Coca-Cola, Standard Chartered, Cadbury and many more.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The capital city of Johor in southern Malaysia, north of Singapore. How about your schooling? Had you gone under any art training? I decided to pursue my art journey after I graduated high school. Initially, I chose to study Graphic Design course in a small college in my hometown because of there are not that popular to be comic artist or illustrator in my local place. But after 6 months with graphic art, I realised that this is not I want. My first preference is still comic and illustration. I soon change mind and further study to professional art college in Kuala Lumpur. Dasein Academy of Art, majoring illustration course. Luckily, I met my comic coloring mentor there. However, the sense of graphic style is always help me in silhouette of shape in illustration. It is never waste time on studying graphic design. I feel the connection of any aspect of art, included fine art, graphic design , comic and illustration. I always upgrade my foundation skill in art by life drawing, sketching , colour study. The foundation of art is very important because of it always help to visualise my imagination on paper or digitally. So, a well said by any professional artist. Practice, Practice, Practice!
How long have you been working professionally in comics? It has been more than 2 years . I mostly did comic coloring on interior pages and cover works for publishers. I am really enjoy it!
What things — both in art and otherwise — have you worked on, besides comics? Are comics a full-time gig for you or part-time? Before work as an artist, I have ever work as salesman for insurance and sales assistant in comic shop. But I’m full time in art industry now! This is my career. Besides comic colorist, I also work for trading game card illustration. I did both art and colour for illustration service. Occasionally, I also work for advertising agency for color finished storyboard, visual and print ad.
Talk about how you broke into the business –was it easy? Hard? Ups? Downs ? Any interesting anecdotes? I think that is really hard to break into comic industry. I have do a lot of practice and hard work to get the first job. I know I am going to work as a proffesionnal comic colourist when I was studying in art school. So, I always practice by coloring over some great penciller works besides doing school assignment. One year later, I am recommended by my mentor Tan Boon Sin. He is a veteran freelance comic colorist in Hong Kong and lecturer in Malaysia art school. I am lucky enough to break into Hong Kong comic industry through networking of him. The first comic I colored is < Fung Wan > , pencilled by Ma Wing Shing , published by Jonesky Limited. This comic is the top selling Hong Kong comic ever and has break the record of selling of Hong Kong comic. However, the comic series has come to the end currently. Through this comic, I have a chance to work with Malaysia famous comic artist Kinsun Loh ( Batman). After these, I have started to get involved into coloring some US comic.
When you held your first published work in your hands, how did you feel? Awesome! Cool! It is really a motivation for me to pursue more professional in future. I am excited and can't wait to show it to everyone I know, especially my family. I feel gratitude at the same time.
How did you settle on the style(s) you’re currently using? If you have multiple styles how did you develop them? My illustration and coloring style is influenced by Kinsun Loh, David Grove, Norman Rockwell, Drew Struzan and many more. I think the style will come out naturally through the process of producing tons of tough work.I always take care of every images of composition, use of color, lighting, mood, material, story telling and the use of texture. The style would appear soon after doing right of those. For the comic, I have 2 styles. There are painterly and painting style. I have studied a lot of David Grove painting during my art school period. After combination of my experience in colouring Hong Kong comic and observation of american art style. Finally came out an unique style "naturally".
How did your parents take to the idea of working in comics? In my living country, comic industry is not that popular in United State. My parents have no idea in how the comic working. But they are really curious and always ask me how we do it. These show their concern to me. This is always a mentally support for me to pursue my career.
How would you describe your work space? Is it part of your home, or do you go “to the studio”? My workplace is at home, in a study room. I work with iMac , Intuos 4 , paper and my imagination. Besides the working desk, there are lots of the art reference book, of course included the comic! .I always listen to some pop music I love when I working.
What job are you the proudest of? I think I won't use the word "proud" to my artwork but I enjoy it. Even I am satisfied with it, there are always more space to improve. The proudest work should be the " next" work. I enjoy the every seconds of improving.
What are you currently drawing? Comments on that project? I am working on coloring for Carbongrey ( final episode). I enjoy on every episode of this comic. A lot of "war world" ideas in the story and images. A lot of cool expression and explosion in interior pages. I love to use colour to bring out the mood of storyline!
Besides that, I also work on a trading card game called " Solforge". I received some interesting brief and visualise it to cool illustration. Sometimes, I play this game also. Haha.
Talk about your family: Parents, siblings, home situation. I am living with my parents and 2 younger brother. My father is a sales manager. My mother is a sales promoter for coffee. Two of my brother is still studying. We always enjoy our time together at night.
What projects do you hope to work on in the future? My dream project is the most popular tittle we know. I am keen to work for some big companies in future. There are DC, Marvel, Top Cow, IDW, Valiant and more. I have dream these every day and night.
Where do you see yourself in five years? ten? I hope I can have my own studio and have chance to share my art knowledge and experience in art school.
What is the interest in comics where you live? Do friends and neighbours know you draw comics for a living? How do they react? They don't really understand how I do for living. There always misunderstood that I am a graphic designer. Anyway, the comic industry in my country is getting better than before.
What’s 1 thing you’ll always find in your refrigerator? Drinks!
What’s your favourite food? Potato chips!
What are your favourite interests –Movies? Music? TV? Any hobbies? Sports? I love movie and music. I will go for singing with friends when I am free. I will catch up any of the movie is great in art and meaningful storyline. Sometimes I go cycling with my girlfriend because long working hours has make my stomach getting bigger.
Have you ever thought of writing your own stories? Yes. I did one when I was still in art school years ago. But I am not really satisfied with the art and story. I always look forward to have an unique story for my own comic book one day.
What’s an average day in your life like? Walk us through a typical day. Start work on 9am. Rest one hour around 4pm and continue.Spend some time with family around 8.30pm to 10.30pm. Continue work if needed or do some personal practice or research. It is really need self-discipline.
Do you have any great, unsold projects in your files that nobody’s gotten to see published? I have daily practice or sketches in my computer. I can't say this is great but these lead me to be a better artist.
If you weren’t a comic-book artist today, what would you be? Art lecturer?Business man? maybe.
Have you taught comic-book art or had any assistants? If so, talk about that. My girlfriend is also an artist. We will work together on some project.
The single thing you’d most like to be remembered for in your life is…? I hope people remember me of every bright side of thinking and getting know we will have to back to God side in one day.
Any other tidbits of info about you that you like to share? I feel so thankful to share my interview here. Thanks.
Illustration & Commercial art (As painter / illustrator) Free Realms Trading Card Game Fatehunter Trading Card Game Asterisk Game Graphics Trading Card Game Solforge trading card game Various character and environment design for concept art house Commercial finished storyboard
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