Interview with Ben Kwok aka. Bioworkz
It's really funny how we stumble into someone's work nowadays, we got a lot of galleries, portfolio platforms, blogs and art shops. I got extremely amazed by the work of Ben Yin-Pan Kwok aka. Bioworkz while looking for posters on Society 6, a black and white illustration style that can really stuck on one's mind.
Ben have worked for the apparel industry on several companies on the past 7 years, giving him a great experience on both digital and traditional medias. Nowadays he seem to be pursuing a unity on his personal work, trying to make more and more detailed illustrations on his already well known black and white style. Today we have this exclusive interview with him, I hope you guys enjoy it.
You can see more from Ben on the following links:
1) First of all, I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. I would like to start asking you about when your interest for illustration and digital art?
Not a problem, thank you for taking the time to interview me.
I've always known that I wanted to do something with art. I have been doodling since I could remember and I really enjoyed it. Went through college with the plan of being a graphic artist. Realized immediately that playing with fonts and layouts was not for me. To draw on paper felt right, so I changed my major into Illustration. Upon graduation, I didn't do much with my degree, until I stumbled into the apparel industry. From there I learnt how to use photoshop, illustrator, and the silk screen process. Now 8 years later, here I am doing what I love.
2) Which artists do you use as reference?
I don't like to reference other artists and their style, but I do admire and I am inspired by a lot of different artist. Some of the artists I admire are David A. Smith, Aaron Horkey, Audrey Kawasaki, Hydro74, Derrick Castle, and Joe A. King to name a few. They are all very detail oriented and I just absolutely love it. Every time they release a new piece of art, I feel like they up the ante for everyone in the art world.
3) Your style is quite influenced by realism and pattern design. How did you develop this style and how would you describe it?
I've always like lots of details and patterns. I remember doing lots of simple shapes such as hearts, flowers, and butterflies all made of paisley patterns. Eventually it got more complex and fitting everything together was a fun puzzle. Then I stumbled upon Iain Macarthur's work and it blew my mind. I thought to myself "wait, I don't have to use any particular types of patterns. I can do whatever I want".
It all started with my "Ornate Owl" which was heavily influenced by Macarthur's style. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to explore different animals and patterns. That was the launching pad for the rest of the animals I've illustrated. Exploring different patterns, animals, medium, techniques. The possibilities are endless. I would call this style ornate if I needed to give it a label.
4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece.
I'm on the web a lot so I search for random images of animals, particularly on Pinterest. Sometimes I plan on drawing a bird, but find a different animal that sparks my interest and go in that direction instead. First, I would sketch out the general shape and outline of the animal. Once that is complete I would create a type of wire frame around the whole animal. Sectioning off different parts such as the legs, wings, head, or wherever my imagination takes me.
From there I start creating random patterns that fits into each section and that's how it all builds. If I like the sketch, I'll take it into the computer, blow it up, and traced the sketch onto an illustration board and that's where the fun begins. I don't have a set way of working, it all depends on my mood. Sometimes I want to challenge myself, so I would use the stippling technique. Other times I want to do something loose and not so precise so the artwork looks sketchy.
5) What would you consider the best moment on you career till now?
The best moment is realizing that I don't have to work a 9 to 5 job to make a living. I could actually make a living pursuing my passion. To create artwork that I'm proud of with zero compromise. It's like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm still holding down a part-time job because to be honest, freelance work is unpredictable and I'm in no position to throw all caution into the wind. The response I've been getting from my ornate animals is beyond all expectation and it just makes me want to create more. Now I am interested in doing gallery work and displaying my work as a piece of art.
6) How do you describe your daily routine?
I have a part-time job life and a freelance/fine art life. But let's focus on the fun stuff...freelance/fine art. I like to start my morning at 6:30am with a nice breakfast and lots of water because that's what I'm suppose to do. Then play with my Cocker Spaniel puppy named Butters for about an hour. With a ice cold can of Monster, off to my home office I go. Yes, energy drinks are bad for you...blah blah blah. I'm usually juggling a few professional and personal projects. I focus on professional projects first because there's a schedule to keep and that how I make a living.
Depending on how many freelance projects I have at the moment, they all must be attended to first before I move on to anything else. When I'm waiting on feedback for the freelance work, I would jump into personal projects. That will usually take up the rest of my day and night, unless I get feedback clients quickly, then back to freelance work. Like I said, freelance work has priority over personal work. After a full day, I would take a break and take Butters to the dog park with my wife. It's good to step away from the work. It allows me to decompress and come back with a fresh perspective and continue the work till 10pm.
7) What's your favorite media to work with?Why?
As silly as this sounds, I love using a simple black ball point pen by BIC. I think it's the most underrated tool for artists. It simply does everything. From soft subtle shading to deep rich lines. It's like drawing with a pencil, but you can't get deep blacks and isn't waterproof. I can shade with regular pens such as a Micron, but the shading I get from a BIC pen is richer and true. The lines made by other pens are absolute, there's very little variation in the tones. I do have to be careful when the BIC pen bleeds, it tends to do that a lot when I'm shading. The trick is to have a piece of tissue ready at all times to constantly wipe of the excess ink buildup before shading the next section.
8) Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every illustrator.
1) Practice Practice Practice!!! There's always someone better than you, so you got to keep improving.
2) It's good to step away from your work after a few hours, especially if you've been cramming for a long time. Take a breather, relax a bit and come back refreshed. It'll make a huge difference in the quality of work.
3) Critiques are not personal, some critiques can be harsh, but it has nothing to do with you personally. Your clients like your work, that's why they wanted to work with you in the first place.
4) Have integrity and keep your word. If you say you'll deliver the work on Friday, you better deliver it on Friday (or earlier). Excuses only makes you look unprofessional and undependable. Things don't always go as planned but do your best and stay in communication with your clients.
5) Don't ever undersell yourself. You're only hurting yourself and the whole art community. Always get 50% upfront payment (or 40/40/20), and never do free spec work. Your time is valuable, if you don't appreciate it, your potential clients won't either.
9) Tell us five websites that you like to visit.
10) Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.
Do your research, there are lots of freelance books and magazines out there. Listen to illustration podcasts to get informed on trends and what other artists are doing. Get inspired and create some kick ass illustrations!!!