Guiding photographers to the light.
 
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Creative apostles

These are people in Taiwan doing cool creative stuff who I've shot and written about.

 

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Yujun -Illustrator

Why is art important to you?

Art helps me to be more perceptive in my daily life.  For example, when I see clouds I don't just see clouds. I see all the different shades of color inside.  Colors, lights, and angles can all influence our mood and impression of things. Art developed my sense of beauty. It helps me to see the beauty of my surroundings.

When did you realize you had artistic talent?

Since I was a child. My dad was an artistic person, he used to do paintings a lot when he was young. I was inspired by him. Making weird stuff and drawing was a daily thing during my childhood.

What does it take to become a great artist?

I believe that it's about life experiences and unique thoughts. You could draw a realistic and beautiful painting, but it might be boring and meaningless.  The key is to make art that is interesting, meaningful and allows audiences to connect with it. Everyone can be trained to have great skills. An artist has to be creative, perceptive and sensitive. If somebody lacks life experience, how can they create good work?

So what life experiences turned you into an artist?

Well like I said, I had been doing art since a child, so by the time I got to college I was pretty skilled at it, but my work was boring.  There was nothing special about it.  After my father passed I was hit with the realization that I had been missing out many things in life.  I was focusing superficial things that don't matter.  I decided to change my priorities and use my art as a way to figure out who I am and connect with my soul. 


If I wanted to start drawing tomorrow, what would you tell me to do?

Why do you think about doing it tomorrow?  Why not now?  Prepare a pencil and paper. Just draw anything that you see or think about. If you don't know what to draw then go walking around outside and find something. That's it! Don't be surprised that the first step is so simple.

Remember, don't judge yourself too badly if you can't draw very well. I couldn't walk when I was a baby. Being able to draw realistically is NOT everything.  The biggest step is just starting.

What if I can't afford art school and have nobody to teach me, how can I learn to draw?

Many good artists also haven't been trained in art school. There are many resources online.  You can use YouTube and artists' websites. Before going to an art school, I bought some books about basic skills and learned from there. Also, you can find some short term courses and workshops offered by an art studio, consider that if you have a small budget.

How do I know whether my work sucks or not? What's the key to getting better?

You can compare your work to others and ask for advice from people you trust.  The only way you will get better is practice practice practice. 

What do you do when you are feeling lost or insecure about your work?

I just stop and find something relaxing to do.  If I'm in a bad mood I know I'll end up ruining my work.  Perhaps I can get inspiration while doing something else.

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cjayride -twitch streamer

CJ is a great example of a creative person with great work ethic.  I recently hung out with him on one of his daily broadcasts.  We went to a few of my favorite spots in Taipei.

It was a really cool experience for me.  At times it was almost surreal because in reality we were just two people hanging out, but because we were on the stream with his fans it felt like were were in a room full of people.

I think that CJ inspires me as an artist in multiple ways.  

First, he's a great example of what building a great community can result in.  He's got people all over the world who serve as mods and help out with the stream.  In return he gives them his all.  He toughs it out rain or shine and does his stream like it's a 9-5 job.  I doubt that he would continue to have that motivation if it weren't for his awesome fans and the support he gets from them.

Secondly, he made a leap of faith.  He's risked basically everything to do what he does.  At times it's been very rough for him.  In recent months even the safety of his family was jeopardy because a doxing group on Facebook.  I think that being an artist requires a true leap of faith that many people are unwilling to take.  To see somebody take that leap, suffer for it, and then come out alive is truly inspiring.

Finally, he's found a way to monetize that is actually fun for viewers.  A lot of artists have trouble monetizing because the truth is that 99% of people simply don't want to pay for art.  When people support CJ, it's both fun and fulfilling for them.  They get to play a song on his stream, have a message read, or even have their name written on his helmet.  

I think that if more artists found ways to monetize that made it fun for people, there wouldn't be so many 'starving artists.'  A lot of what artists do essentially looks like begging for money, or selling products for way more than they're really worth.

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chao -tattoo apprentice

I've always wondered what one has to do to become a tattoo artist. So a few weeks ago I reached out to Chao. She decided to pursue tattoo art after graduating from NTU and working a couple of dissatisfying jobs. She took a step back and is now an apprentice at a popular shop in Shilin district. Her duties there include being a receptionist, cleaner, and assistant to current artists. In her down time she practices her drawing and needle work. Her only compensation for this job is a daily meal and tools to practice. She has 5 days off per month.

Given the tendency towards instant gratification so prevalent today, I was very impressed by her commitment to this path (especially after already finishing college).

In 2 years she will finally be able to practice on her own and take on clients. Once that time comes I'm confident she will have great success.

Photo by Billy Stagner.