An Interview with Artist Kevin Hong

Hi Kevin, could you tell us a bit about yourself?  Where you're from and where you are currently?

I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Right now I’m living and working from Queens as a freelance illustrator.

What are your first artistic memories?

As a kid I loved to make these sprawling drawings of intricate cities by taping together reams of paper.  I remember the largest I’d ever made took up an entire wall in my room… Probably a waste of good paper, but they’re some of my fondest memories.

Did you go to school for artwork and if so, what were your experiences like during that time?

I went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for college, and I definitely had a great time there.  With SVA, there was a lot of freedom and variety in the kind of classes you could take.  Every classroom felt like its own self-contained world - with teachers often contradicting each other from one class to the next.  The experience helped me to define the kind of artist I wanted to be.

Could you tell us a bit about your process of creating these two prints and your inspiration for each?

I’m a huge fan of the Zelda series and remember spending dozens if not hundreds of hours getting lost in its worlds as a kid.  So with these pieces, I wanted to channel the kind of experiences I had when playing the games: the intimacy the series creates with its iconic characters, but also the scale and scope defined by its world-building.

Which is your favorite Zelda game from the series?

It’s so hard to choose but I’ll probably go with Majora’s Mask.  It left a deep impression on me as a kid.  There was a sense of urgency with whatever you accomplished given the 3-day countdown.  Although Termina wasn’t physically that large, its world felt incredibly dense.  There was so much to do, and so many little details to pick up on.

What are some of your other favorite pop culture influences?

Aside from video games, I’m a fan of manga, animation, art history and woodblock prints.

What are some of the challenges of illustrating that most might not realize pop up?

What I find most challenging, when illustrating, is creating an image that both solves the visual problem, but also does it in such a way that’s unconventional and exciting.  With illustration, it can also be very tempting and an easy to create something that may be insincere.  It’s a tough balancing act.

Who are some of your biggest influences artist wise?

I’m a huge fan of animation and manga.  Some artists that I really admire include woodblock artists like Yoshitoshi and Hiroshi Yoshida, animation directors like Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Hideaki Anno, Sylvain Chomet and mangaka like Inio Asano and Yuki Urushibara. I also take a lot of inspiration from the internet and its endless trove of images.

What can we look forward to from you next?

I’ll always be illustrating, but I’m also working on some personal projects in between freelancing.  Right now I’m working on a comic that will hopefully be finished at some point soon.  Please look forward to it!

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