Pick up Issue 52 or 53, flip it around and understand that we have a deep appreciation for art here. It’s why we let artists design our back cover. We began as a graffiti zine, and as our scope widened to other art forms, so did our interest in art itself. In line with that sentiment, we bring you Originators, an ongoing series that profiles visual artists working behind the scenes to produce the art, television, and work we can only describe as dope.
Nature and organic life are much appreciated in art, with obvious nods toward photography and fine landscape paintings. Portraits of animals and people are a common subject for most artists, but most artists never seem to capture what the imaginative brain sees subjects as. There’s not much imagination involved in creating pieces based solely on copying the looks of natural and organic life.
Brian Luong chooses to showcase that beauty of nature through illustration, but adds otherworldly concepts through his colors and almost make-believe landscapes. Luong draws amazing illustrations of organic life and natural beauties with great detail and pinpoint precision. His colors definitely compliment his subjects, adding a sleek and clean look to his incredible drawings.
We talked to Luong about his art style, influence, and some of the projects he’s worked on in the past.
Mass Appeal: How did you first get into the field of illustration?
Brian Luong: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I started looking at art and individual artists more closely. I didn’t even know what an “illustrator,” was before then, but once I found out, it felt like something I would like to pursue as a career.
After high school and a couple of years of doing personal art projects, I started creating shirt designs for fun. I posted up my designs on an online forum and some people liked the designs I was doing, so my first illustration job commissions were for shirt designs. From there, I just kept doing more work and posting it online for others to see.
MA: What are some of your inspirations?
BL: Besides looking at a lot of different art and illustration work, a surprising amount of photography fuels my imagination and inspires me. I like looking up photos of landscapes and strange/unique animals in my free time; nature is a big inspiration to me.
MA: Why illustration as opposed to another art medium?
BL: I started out working two dimensionally (doodling, drawing, and painting on a flat surface), so applying that to the field of illustration was easy. Also, what attracted me to the field was having a purpose or use for my artwork other than creating art for the sole sake of creating art.
MA: I see you’ve done some work for Monocacy Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing. How did that come about?
BL: Both of those endeavors first came about with me waking up, opening my email, and getting awesome job opportunities like working with these two clients. I think they might have seen my work through one of my online portfolios. I’m really excited and happy to have had the opportunity to work with both of them, even though I don’t drink that often.
MA: How’d you get to create a poster for Tame Impala?
BL: A business that organizes shows for a large number of bands saw my work and asked me if I would be interested in designing a couple posters for them in the future. I saw that they had a great lineup of bands that they’ve organized shows for in the past, so I was all in for it in hopes that I would be able to design a poster for a band I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to design for. Tame Impala was in line for their next organized show, so they asked me to create something for them. Fun poster to work on, they let me take any direction I wanted.
MA: How do you feel about your most admired image being related to “Adventure Time”?
BL: I had a feeling that people would really like the art due to it being based off of “Adventure Time,” yet another part of me to this day is still surprised at how well-received that piece was. At the time I started on the piece I was a huge “Adventure Time” fan, but nowadays it’s hard for me to call myself a huge fan. I don’t really keep up with the show as much as I did in the past, but I still enjoy it whenever I’m able to sit down and catch an episode.
MA: I love Pokemon, so naturally, I believe your Pokemon Fusion illustrations are incredible. I really feel like you’ve made those fusions your own, and they almost don’t look like any Pokemon at all. Are you a big fan of monsters and beasts in general?
BL: Thanks, I try to go all out whenever I do a Pokemon Fusion illustration. Monsters and beasts are great. I think they’re the perfect outlet to pour your imagination into, because it’s really hard to go wrong.
MA: What is your illustrating routine like?
BL: My work routine is fairly sporadic at times. I try to stick to a normal 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. schedule, but sometimes I stay up late during the work week and end up sleeping in later the next day. I feel like most of the time I’m just focusing on getting a certain amount of work hours clocked in and working to get in at least 8 hours of work per day, regardless of the time I wake up.
MA: What do you enjoy aside from illustrating? What important art mediums do you hold great value to, other than drawing?
BL: Aside from illustrating, I play guitar and bass from time to time. Other than drawing, I value having the ability to cook and being able to create or build something using my hands. I wouldn’t call myself a decent cook, but I admire the skill that comes with being able to cook up a great meal. I also like DIY projects and would love to make some of my own furniture someday.
MA: Is there any territory you’d like to invade that isn’t illustration?
BL: Not quite, I’ll stick with illustration for now. I’ve actually taken some animation classes during my high school years, plus some classes in photography as well. Photography is enjoyable, and I still take photos for personal stock reference images for inspiration. I really enjoy the art of animating, but I don’t think I have the patience for it anymore.
MA: What’s next for you?
BL: Possibly more illustration work for packaging and labels! I’m also hoping that I’ll get more poster commissions in the future.