Part of a rare breed of humans, Eric Chan, a.k.a. eepmon, is special type of human (/monkey?) whose left and right brain hemispheres collide to produce unbelievable results. Referring to a description of people born in the Year of the Monkey being the â€œerratic geniuses of the cycle,â€ Chan describes himself as erratic sans genius. We disagree. Holding a diploma in Computer Science and currently finishing a degree in Interactive Multimedia and Design, Chan already has celebrated numerous awards on both programming and design.
â€œThe flower is a symbol highly regarded in Asian cultures. It has many representations and meanings one being notably – to be born anew. I sometimes feel that I am that flower, but with issues.â€
Format: Please discuss your educational history as an artist/designer.
Eric Chan: My life as an artist started at a very young age. I believe it was around the age of two that I picked up my first pencil and started to draw. During my high-school years I went to a school known for its visual arts program in Ottawa where I was exposed to a wider variety of fine art disciplines such as life drawing, painting, and photography. Although it was a great experience, at that time the era of art and computational graphics was on the rise. Intrigued by this, I wanted to dedicate my art to this new found medium however I felt it was never truly accepted as an art form during my years there.
Undecided as to what to do with my art, I decided to take a full 180 degree turn and focus my post secondary education in Computer Science at Algonquin college. There I was exposed to the world of programming and trust me it wasn’t easy. It was a huge learning curve but from it gained some valuable insight in the art of programming.
Today, we have institutions that realize that there is a huge need for people with hybrid disciplines – one who is well versed in the arts as well as technology. Currently I am in my final year at Carleton University’s studying in Interactive Multimedia Design.
Format: Your bio mentions that the “eepmon world belongs to that of the eepmasta himself.” Please explain the “eep” namesake.
Eric Chan: I’ve been asked a many of times of what eepmon represents. It does sound quite random but there is a significant meaning to it, well at least for me. I was born in the year monkey in the Chinese zodiac and I can relate very well with the description of the monkey so I try to fuse elements of the world monkey: ‘eep’ (ape) ‘mon’ (monkey). Which also sounds like ‘apeman’ when you say it together. The letter ‘e’ is the first letter of my name and it just so happens that with a play of words the ‘eep’ makes a pretty cool short form for eepmon. As one description puts it: “People born in the Year of the Monkey are the erratic geniuses of the cycle…” OK, so I may not be a genius, however I can say I am very well erratic.
Format: You work in a variety of media. What does each medium you work in offer you that others do not?
Eric Chan: I think the fact that working with a new medium offers new challenges which turns to new found experiences which then leads to satisfaction and accomplishment. I find myself always being curious and looking for the next challenge to envision my works in all sorts of places. Once I realize I’ve become very comfortable with the medium, it is a signal to me that its time to look for a new fresh perspective with my work.
Format: Tiger Beer selected you as one of the “Asian Kinetic Artists â€“ a multi-disciplinary collective reflecting Asia’ rich, diverse, and contemporary character” in 2007. To what degree do you feel your work is representative of Asian culture?
Eric Chan: I see my works more of a juxtapose between my life living in the West with a distant Chinese heritage from the East, more or less a blurring between the two. I personally feel that the works is more of a representation of myself and my attempt to re-establish my connection with my Asian heritage.
Format: Few designers are proficient in design as well as programming, however, you have won several awards for your flash work. What advantages does working in both fields provide you?
Eric Chan: Did I mention earlier that I was erratic!? To be truthful I’m not exactly sure where this left and right brain integration will lead me to. Perhaps itâ€™s all about ‘seeing the big picture.’ the forest through the trees. For example when I’m designing something or doing something artistic that will eventually be applied programmatically, I always run through another series of case scenarios in my head whether or not it can be feasible and what would be the most efficient method to technically integrate the design and finally how the end result will look like. Though this example is of course pretty specific, I also believe this ideology can be applied to almost everything I do in my day to day routines.
Format: Please discuss a few of the awards you have won.
Eric Chan: Several web awards such as Taxi Design, Web Design Awards, FCUK Featured Site.
FITC 2006 Best Canadian Student for eepmon version 2.0 and finalist for FITC 2007 Self Promotional for eepmon version 3.0. Though it wasn’t an award, to me being a finalist is good enough.
Format: In regards to design, what are you most challenged by today?
Eric Chan: I think itâ€™s not so much about design. Itâ€™s really about me that I’m challenged with. There are times when I get frustrated about what would be the next thing that I should do to better myself. I think ultimately I am exploring ways fully express myself, but at the same time I think it is an omniscient characteristic that can never be reached.
Format: Your style often includes imagery relating to flowers, however, they are not depicted in a classic “flowery” positive way. How did you develop the dark, chaotic style that runs through so many of your pieces?
Eric Chan: The flower is a symbol highly regarded in Asian cultures. It has many representations and meanings one being notably – to be born anew. I sometimes feel that I am that flower, but with issues.
The floral work is a metaphor for my attempt to reconnect myself to my Asian background. However because of being born and raised in the West, in some ways I feel that I have become the black sheep and as such can never truly relate with my heritage. Not saying it is a bad thing but there are moments where I wish that I really could. I am a blurring between two cultures.
Thus, my floral works try to visually exploit this theme.
Format: Please discuss the Story Through Design piece that was recently installed.
Eric Chan: The Story Through Design was indeed one of the most ambitious projects that I have done thus far. The project took about two months to complete, from conceptual to its installment. The installation was created for Fleming Creative Group (FCG), a design firm based in Vancouver, Canada.
The theme behind this piece revolves around FCG’s philosophy: “The Story Through Design.” Based on this idea, I was given the task to envision what this could visually represent. And if that wasn’t conceptual enough, throw in the fact that FCG is an umbrella of three divisions which means that this installation art piece must adhere to all three!
The process however doesn’t change whether it is for an art piece, installation to even a Flash site. Everything comes down to the pencil and paper. Brainstorming is by far one of the most important component, and of course understanding what ‘The Story Through Designâ€ really means to the people there.
After several iterations, the sketches become more refined and ideas become more concrete. Itâ€™s now time to bring the sketches into the computer.
I use a variety of software to create my works most notably, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash. In Flash I’ve developed programs that allow the dispersion of my works via algorithms. Working in a controlled environment, I manipulate my illustration pieces until I have a collage that I am content with.
The post processing and final compositions are done in Photoshop and Illustrator. The printing and installation component is a whole other story.
Overall, I am very pleased with the result. It was an honor to have been given such a responsibility to transform the front reception of the firm into an artistic environment.
Format: Please discuss the Tiger Gold campaign.
Eric Chan: Tiger Translate 2007 was an event created by Tiger Beer and curated by IdN. Recognizing ever more the cross cultural boundaries between the East and West, the event promotes the artist’s interpretation of what this means to them and how they interpret it. The Gold project was one of the three campaigns for Tiger Translate. I have created five pieces that represented what Gold meant to me.
Based on this, my vision of ‘GOLD’ for this campaign was that we as society are embarking into a new â€œgolden age.â€ I based this upon five characteristics: Hopes/Dreams, Creativity, Peace, Technological Advancement, and Rebirth thus each characteristic was associated with an art piece.
All works are then published in the Tiger Translate 2007 Gold book and selected artworks were exhibited.
More Info: http://eepmon.com/