Steve Tung was born in Taipei in 1994. He studied at Fu-Hsin Trade and Art School. He is currently a freelance artist and animation student at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. His website is o-fon.deviantart.com.
How important is story in your works? Do you always imagine a story that happens before and after the moment in time shown in the work or do you look at it as a completely visual creation?
I always think of the story behind the work, but sometimes I’ll think of it when the work is complete. I don’t want to limit the process in my work. I need to use feelings, too. Some works are only visual, but I think every good work has a great story at its heart. Stories and visuals are equally important.
Your work is surprisingly minimalist in the colors that you use, even in New Life [second image in gallery], which has hundreds of different elements in motion. Did you do this to make certain that the composition would be easy to read and not become too busy?
Yes, I always care about that when I look at a piece of art. I discovered my own ways to color and it still feels easy to read.
Your work also is very minimalist in its use of negative, empty space in the compositions. Child, Beautiful Girl, Doggy Warrior, and Smoke [third through sixth images in gallery], are so much more interesting because you have left so much negative space. Was this intentional?
I don’t like a painting to be too full, just like outer space. We can see the closest planet, but the distance to many other planets is so far away from us, with lots of space. That’s the same with my paintings, too.
Please tell us more about the smoke child with the balloon in Child.
This is about losing our youth and childlike heart. It’s a reaction to the social media phenomena in our world, but it can also have a different interpretation for other viewers.
Doggy Warrior is wonderful in so many ways that I do not know where to begin. Please tell us more about this work.
Doggy Warrior is actually my pet dog. Sometimes I imagine her riding a big mech, walking around. Then one day I thought, “Hmmm . . . I’ll just paint it.” Thus Doggy Warrior was born. It’s my way of saying how much I like my dog.
Do you see any distinct aspects of art/illustration coming out of Taiwan that are different from what is coming out of Japan, Korea, mainland China, and other parts of Asia? Do you see anything inherently Taiwanese about your work?
I think there are some small differences between the Asian styles. I think that the biggest factor influencing illustrators in Taiwan is that in Taiwanese society, artists are not that highly regarded. As a result, artists interested in illustration have to rely on a lot of self-exploration and self-education, rather than having lots of tradition and institutions as resources. But there is an upside to that because sometimes you can go farther precisely because there are not a lot of established traditions and institutions. That is the big difference with Taiwan I think.
What are your greatest influences as an artist? Film? Illustrators? Fine art painters?
When I was learning traditional painting, I wasn’t aware of CG painting and what a great tool it can be. One day I was researching science fiction-related artwork and I saw a work called Tears of a Distant Sun by Kai Lim [previously featured in Lightspeed at lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase/artist-spotlight-kai-lim]. I was shocked by the atmosphere that the image portrayed and the mechs were almost like real people walking in the desert. I changed my way of thinking about painting after that. Regarding film, I think it has to be ID4. I watched this when I was quite young. It influenced me a lot. My favorite fine art artist is Antonio López García.
Which of your works is your favorite? Why?
Currently, it is Border [final image in the gallery]. It is the turning point in my painting. I used lots of new technical ideas and as a result, I learned a lot.
What is your dream project?
I would really like to realize my 2D concepts into real 3D models.
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