Winter is here! The season of white snow and holiday cheer. We were lucky to work with the ever talented, kind and creative Teddy Kang for our Winter 2019 Menu Art. He did fabulous work of it, and we got the opportunity to speak with him afterwards.
Hi Teddy, tell us a little bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in illustration?
Hi, my name is Teddy Kang, I’m a Toronto based art director, illustrator, and graphic designer. Moved to Canada almost 10 years ago when I was a high school student, and have finished my studies at York University for digital media and film, I started off as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer when I was in the third year of university. I’ve been with a few different advertising agencies and companies, and now I came back to work as a freelance art director, illustrator and designer again.
There was a funny story behind me about how I became a working professional in illustration. I initially wanted to be a filmmaker and that dream had been motivating me for so many years, and that was why I studied film and media at York University. However, as soon as I really started to study film, I eventually realized that this is an industry that’s tough to break into and you might have a hard time finding a job and making a living out of it for the first couple of years. Accidentally one day I somehow noticed that I can draw the creative ideas and imaginations in my mind out, instead of making them a film. The platform and method to make it happen are different, and the fun is the same because I can still execute what’s in my mind into reality and showcase to everybody, but the way I can achieve this using illustration is way easier than being a filmmaker. That’s how and where I started off as an illustrator.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Being an artist could not be an easy job, it can be very tough at the beginnings, you have to try your best to come up with ideas and create great works and then to promote your work to your potential clients around you before one day they approach you for work, but that made me become more appreciated of tough beginnings because you’ll know when the blessings come, you’ll know what it means to earn. Also, I enjoyed the flexibility and the freedom that works as an artist because you don’t need to attend to work at a specific time and to come back home at a specific time; you manage your time to accommodate your projects and workload. You can always wake up to a good idea at the late mid-night and then start to work right away. It’s also the freedom and flexibility that provide me more space to have my creativity play around with well.
What is the hardest part of creating an illustration?
Definitely ideation! Everything is about coming up with an excellent idea for every single illustration, either commissioned or personal ones. I’ve had lots of experience spending so many days and nights just to come up with good ideas, so that’s definitely the most challenging part yet the most interesting part of the whole process of the creation. Once the ideas are there, then everything becomes relatively easier to tackle.
What is your inspiration behind this particular piece for Demetres?
When I first received the assignment and I was told that the artwork will be for Demetres’ winter menu, I felt a bit perplexed about how to begin and how to create a work that has a story behind that could impress people, because what makes it challenging is that Toronto has an extremely cold wintertime, and so many people would think ice creams might not be a good idea for winter. So after a long time brainstorming and ideation, I came up with an idea to create a scenery that showcases how fantasy Dementres can transfer Toronto’s winter into. With a hand holding a big size of Sundae, I transfer the whole typical winter Toronto skyline in back into a funky, swinging and decorative fantasy and daydream, so the story behind that is “Yes, so you think ice creams desserts are too cold for winter? You might get it wrong. Demetres is just a place where it can transfer the winter into a fantasy.”
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
I always love to be involved with elements of food because I’m personally a foodie who loves all kinds of food. I feel like its so much fun to work on food-related design, advertising or illustration work and it’s a platform that’s always easier for me to express my idea and creativity because I always find there’s a lot in food we can discover with and play around with, and a lot of ideas can come up with when it comes with food. It’s definitely a basic thing for people’s daily life but it has a lot more potential to dig out for creators.
How do you know when a work is finished?
That’s a very interesting question! And the answer would be very simple: Until I don’t have anything left on my mind when I look at the work, and I’ll know it is finished. By saying that, I don’t mean that I always keep adding elements and things on till there is no more room for me to add because we all know sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to artwork creation. By saying that, I mean that when every all the elements, composition, color choice, and storytelling are fully achieved and I don’t think to add anything to the artwork would make it any better or even adding anything would destroy the whole image, and then I’ll stop and put my working tools away.
Do you have a ‘style’ and if so, how did you develop it?
I would say I’ve now well developed a signature and distinguished style, but it’s definitely not something that would happen at the beginning. Developing a style really takes time and it can be a long journey. I spend at least two years to make my style roughly created and then kept making it more developed and progressed as keeping working for another couple of years. I just kept drawing, ideating and seeing how other artists, designers, and illustrators draw and discovered how they make their style unique from a long-time ongoing observation; and then eventually and gradually, I have my own personal and unique style as well.
Do you have a favourite piece of work that you’ve made?
Yes! The one I created for Demetres is what I like the most and enjoyed so far. Other than this piece, I’m also in love with the ones I created for Belmont Burgers, Reader’s Digest Canada as well as Kim’s Convenience. Generally speaking, I love all the pieces I create, they are just like my own kids that I raise them up and see their growing up to become decent people.
In the process of creating your illustration do you listen to anything in the background- music, podcasts, tv shows?
Yes, I need sounds around me when I work on my design and illustration. I can’t make my surrounding so quiet and silent, that way I won’t be able to create anything because I will feel that I’m isolated from the world. I have to make myself feel like I’m in a vivid and positive environment so that I can be more creative. And yes, I will play music and listen to some TV shows (because I wouldn’t be able to watch when I work, so I had to listen) when I’m working.
If you could give a piece of advice to someone starting out in art, what would it be?
Get yourself into a habit of observing people, observing life and feeling life, that’s super useful and needed if you want to create work that inspires and impresses people. Then you can try showing your work to people around you and ask for feedback and suggestions, because and always remember that the work you create will be for your clients and for people to see one day, so we need to always make sure if people understand your work and understand the story behind the work. And most importantly, you need to be persistent and never stop– I know this one might sound like a bit cliche, but it’s really true!
Here’s our 2019 Winter menu cover
& the bill cards: