Awesome Artist : Colleen Kong

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In this series, Awesome Artists, we talk to our favorite artists to get insight on how they draw, and get their tips for creating. We spoke to  Allison Langton, who shared her watercolor techniques with painting plants, and Tim Miller, who gave us a peek into his process for creating the picture book, Snappsy the Alligator. Today we welcome back one of our friends, Colleen Kong-Savage, who was our very first guest for 3 & 1/2 Questions.
 

Meet Awesome Artist Colleen Kong

 
TurtleShip_cover

I’m so excited for Colleen as this is her debut as a picture book illustrator. Above is the cover of The Turtle Ship by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage. Colleen uses a technique called collage – doodling with paper. We’re so excited to share Colleen’s process in drawing with scissors and paper.

The Turtle Ship is a story about a poor boy named Sun-sin who dreams of traveling the world. One day a contest is announced that the winner of best ship design would get to sail with the royal navy. Sun-sin’s idea for a ship is inspired by his best friend, a turtle called Gobugi (which means “turtle” in Korean).

Colleen is going to share with us one of the most difficult scenes she worked on for the book, as seen below.

KCD: Hi Colleen. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your work with us! Can you tell us a little bit about this scene from the book?

CKS: For this scene, I wanted show the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was the grandest of all the palaces built in the Joseon Dynasty, the period in which Sunsin lived. So I did a sketch to show the art director how I planned to illustrate this scene. It was rough, messy, and fast because the purpose of the sketch was to show the Art Director my idea.

The Art Director said, “We like the expressions of people wondering why a kid is there with a turtle. It’s cute the way you have him holding the turtle on his head. We suggest backing out in space so we can see many more of the “hundreds of people.” Right now it looks like there are only six other people.”

Arrival_sketch 1

smileNote that Colleen shows a sketch before starting a final drawing. The above is the first one she showed, and she does a few more before it gets approved to proceed to final draft.

trythisBefore doing a drawing, see how many ways you can sketch the drawing. Trying different viewpoints or changing something about the subject or try different ideas.

KCD: How did you react to the Art Director’s feedback?

CKS: I don’t know if you ever noticed — drawing people is not easy, not even for a professional artist. But the Art Director was right, I hadn’t drawn very many people, so I sketched some more.

“How’s this?” I asked the Art Director.

She said, “This is a little better with a few more people added, but we still don’t get a sense of hundreds, and nobody has a replica of a battleship.”

Arrival_2

Argh! Drawing a crowd is a lot of work! You have to make up many different faces, and many different bodies doing different activities, wearing different clothes, in different positions from the viewer’s point of view. Plus as a collage artist I was imagining all the like tiny bits of paper I’d be cutting out in the final illustration. And oh yeah, I had forgotten about the replicas.

“How about this?” I asked the Art Director. “Is this enough people and battleships? And do you like how you can see Sun-sin’s face now? I want people to see that he’s excited to be here.”

Thankfully, the Art Director said, “YES!”

Arrival_3

KCD: How do you start drawing with paper?

CKS: I make many copies of this drawing. I use most of them to help me cut out all the individual shapes from the papers I want to use. With the help of a light table I trace facial expressions. And I always keep one copy of the master drawing whole. 

This copy is my template and it helps me figure out where to put the pieces.

As I put the pieces in place I glue them to each other—not onto the template. I will glue the crowd to another background when it’s complete.

This is what the back of a whole crowd of people look like.

Arrival_8

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Phew! I bet it took a long time to complete pasting all the people and their details. Here is the completed scene again. Thanks for sharing your process with us, Colleen!

 

smileEvery professional illustrator sketches ideas first before doing a final piece of art. The final art takes a long time, so it’s important to work out all the details first, and that way, you’ll make all your mistakes in the early draft and not the final art.

trythis

Next time when you want to create something, try sketching out a few ideas first. See how many ways you can approach the drawing, trying it in different way each time. Good luck!

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Colleen Kong-Savage is an illustrator, artist, and graphic designer. Her picture book debut, The Turtle Ship is published by Shen’s Books, a multicultural children’s book publisher based in California. Shen’s Books aims to emphasize “cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.”

All images courtesy of Colleen Kong-Savage.

 

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3 & 1/2 Questions: Colleen Kong

CK1YESbeast

 

Colleen Kong, a New York-based artist, is the creative force behind Kongaline.com. According to Colleen, “Children Are Beastly,” and she personifies their mischievousness through illustrated monsters. To get inspired for our first Show & Tell Call for Entries, “To Boo or Not to Boo,” we asked Colleen a few questions:
 

3 & 1/2 Questions: Colleen Kong

 

What influenced the way your monsters look?

My last name is “Kong-Savage.” It sounds like a giant gorilla with very bad manners. I wondered, “if a kong-savage was a character, what would it look like?” My very first savage was simple, hairy, and had an attitude:

CK2doodle

How do you give your monster characterization/personality?

I wondered, “what would my savage do when he wasn’t throwing a fit?” I also wanted to add more detail, so I beefed up his arms (I was still thinking of gorillas) and gave him some big teeth (because he IS a monster). I couldn’t decide on a color, so I tried a whole bunch of them, and I came up with this:

CK3mascot

And then because I still couldn’t decide on a color, I figured I’d make a whole population of these beastly monsters so that I wouldn’t have to settle on a single shade. Another advantage of having more than one beastie is that they now can have families and friends. CK4blue_yellow_monster_hug

There’s a whole bunch of ways I can render these characters.

I can collage myself a beastie: cut it out of paper, using different papers for different parts, then glue all the pieces together

CK5blueBeastie2

Or if I need to make a black and white picture, I can do a line drawing with a pen.

CK6Unicycle_mobSometimes I want to use the computer, so I’ll draw a thick black outline with a brush pen. Then I’ll scan it into the computer and color it in using a program called Adobe Illustrator. Because it’s now on the computer, I can change colors over and over again with a click of a button.

CK7Rainbow_Beasties

What would you do to make a monster scarier or friendlier?

To be honest, I don’t make my monsters that scary—I mean no scarier than your mom is when she’s mad at you for drawing a mustache on your brother with permanent marker. But as you know, some facial expressions are scarier than others. Would you rather be stuck in a room with someone with friendly eyes and a smile or a furrowed brow and a frown?

CK8expressions

And if anyone comes at you with angry red eyes and a snarling mouth full of sharp teeth, you would probably leave the house.

CK9Scary

 

Please complete this sentence: I like to draw ____.

Beasties and naughty children.

We do too, Colleen! See Colleen’s monsters and more of her work at kongaline.com.

All images courtesy of Colleen Kong.