Andrew Tan, better known as Drewscape in the online illustration community, set up his company three years ago and creates artwork across a number of mediums and channels. His portfolio spans advertising illustration, posters, storyboard visuals, book illustrations and comics. Andrew has been active in the design game since 2004, working as an advertising Art Director at JWT and DDB. He now does most of his work for advertising agencies as a full-time illustrator.
How long have you been illustrating and how did you develop your style? School? Self-taught?
My dad taught me the basics, I took a couple of neighbourhood painting classes, a few art classes in school, and I did a part time graphics design course at NAFA. The rest is self-taught. Mass Communications and Business were my majors in university. My parents didn’t think studying art was going to make me rich. I started drawing spaceships and superman in kindergarten. I then progressed to practicing anime style drawings after watching Robotech on Sunday mornings. Rick Hunter heads and robots fill my old sketchbooks. I only started breaking out of manga style drawings a few years ago as I discovered that there were other forms of contemporary illustrations that were as cool or even cooler than manga styles. I usually buy illustration books, then stare at them like I was doing an osmosis transaction. I believe the important thing is to keep absorbing and learning. A lot of times, I learn new styles on the job as every job requires a different look and style.
Are there any specific artists or illustrators who influence you?
Ashley Wood, Amano, James Jean, Aya Takano… There is a lot to learn from Ashley Wood’s masterful yet messy thick and thin strokes, Amano’s mysterious yet stylish characters, designs and watercolours, James Jean’s pencil lines, his mood colours and compositions, and Takano’s combination of strange science fiction imagination and cuteness.
Why did you break into comics? Which comics did you read as a kid? Which ones are you reading now?
Creating comics still remains my main passion. I like comics because they give breath and life to a drawn character. I started drawing goofy Star Wars comics on scraps of paper to fill in the stories between the first few episodes then moved on to creating my own characters and making them go on adventures. Just for my own amusement. My favourite comic series as a kid was Appleseed by Masamune Shirow. The way he drew people… hot women and robots stood out from the mainstream American comic styles. Now, my favourites are Powers by Bendis and Oeming, for exceptional storytelling in comic form. I also like comic art by Ashley Wood and Nick Stakal. I admire their natural medium techniques because it takes more confidence and skill to make it work. But I am always on the look out for new and fresh cutting edge styles. I haven’t done many comics for publishing yet. The ones on my website are mostly for my own entertainment. But soon…
Tell me about the storyboards.
Surprisingly, only a few illustrators I know enjoy storyboards. Most snarl at the word. For me, they are very much like comics; frames that tell a story. I enjoy coming up with a good angle and lighting and seeing the art director’s face light up when the board brings out what it was meant to convey.
What makes a good storyboard frame?
Confident line work, the right mood colours, characters which carry the right body language, framed just enough to tell what is needed, nothing more and nothing less. Also, the art shouldn’t be too detailed so there is still room to imagine what the final TVC will look like. Oh and of course meeting the deadline! I would recommend it as a really good training for anyone wanting to improve their illustration skills.
Have you done any book cover work? If you could illustrate any book cover, what book would you choose?
I did some textbook covers in the past. However, I’d be interested to work on novel covers and children’s storybook illustrations because there is probably more freedom for style experimentation there.
Do you do collabs? Most memorable one?
I co-created my comic Dreamduck with my friend, Natalie Pang. She did the text and I did the artwork. That went well because we had the same idea on what the end-result should look like. It also helped that we co-created the character. At present, I just want to create a few self-written comics that I’ve been putting aside because of work.
What are you working on right now? What’s your next project?
I’ve just completed a few comic pages for an annual report and am looking forward to finishing another comic for a comic anthology with a few other illustrators.
Get your eyeful of Andrew’s work on his site.