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Meet Shibe “Ray” Suda

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shibe Suda.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Japan and was raised in Hong Kong until I flew to the US for Art College. Just like most artists out there, I always loved drawing since I can remember. What makes me probably unique was that I am from a Chinese background, born in Japan, and was raised in Hong Kong. That made my surroundings very international in knowledge and culture I observed and took into my personality and art later on.

I was never the chirpy, cheering, positive and popular kid in school, or in a group of friends. I assume a lot of artists are rather introverted, but I was seriously concerned about my ability to make friends and continue enjoyable conversations with people since my kindergarten times. I did have few very close friends who always appreciated my company, but I remember I always tried to attract all other people’s attention withdrawing. In fact, I thought that drawing was my only weapon to make friends, and I used that weapon until it became so entertaining for me that I wanted to make a career out of it.

Luckily, my family was always supportive for what I wanted to do. By the time when I told them I want to study art in college, they didn’t mention a single word that suggests me to think about other choices. Instead they trusted and believed in me that I have the guts and ambition to somehow go through what is about to come in my life. While I was pretty close from failing my high school studies (who needs Calculus if you are so determined to be an artist, hahaha), my family still let me draw just under the condition of “doing the best I can with everything I can do”.

I studied Illustration in Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I studied from the very foundation of drawing, which then exposed me into storytelling and the magic of designing an imaginary world. I always loved the Behind The Scenes of classic Disney movies and Japanese Anime and Manga, but I was never expecting the amount of knowledge and skills needed to achieve the art of creating a whole world and stories that doesn’t exist in real life. In AAU, I exposed myself to both Visual Development in animation and Concept Art in games to understand how drawing can help bring imaginations come to life. I graduated AAU in May 2019, with the award of Best of Illustration 2019 from Academy of Art University Spring Show, which was very humbling.

Since then, I have been working as a freelance artist for different clients, one for Children’s book, one for Character Design, and few other different needs. I am enjoying the variety of work I have been receiving as it proves that my drawing can help so much people to visualize what they can’t see.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I did take a lot of inspiration from Japanese Anime and Manga, and I never regret it or cringe over how much of them I have been watching or reading!

On top of that, I used to watch old Chinese animations when I visit my grandparents in China, and I watched a lot of shows from Boomerang and Cartoon Network in Hong Kong. My art now is what I want to call it the combination of my favorite parts from anything I saw or was exposed to. I try to use Anime and Manga’s sense of storytelling and figurative character drawing, and I try to use my knowledge on shape language and composition from western animation and illustrations. Some have told me that my art looks “kinda like anime, but kinda not, sometimes like Disney, and sometimes not”.

I personally believe that authenticity is very important in designs. I love thinking through the past that the character or prop went through, where they are from, what is the culture or tradition, what kind of life they spend, what is their personality, what emotions do they feel, how do they move, etc. Because of that, sometimes I make my designs too complicated, then I simplify it afterwards. This applies to my illustration works. I am still trying to achieve the sense of “…where am I?” for my audiences when they see my illustrations. I want them to feel like they are traveling to different times or worlds, and feel the emotions.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
There are so many things that I wish I learned earlier, but the most important thing I think is to be open-minded. As an artist, I am very grateful that I was always open-minded about what I saw or what I hear. Whether you don’t quite agree or click with it, it is always good for you to take it in first. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, and always be open to any opinions, views, knowledge, skills, styles, etc. It really helped me accessible to all the things that makes my art how it is now. You can decide whether it’s good for you or not after you take them in. You will never know how much this will help shape who you are as an artist!

Another small advice would be to take care of yourselves. I know art can be draining, and I think that no one should ever think that they have to be hungry, sleep-deprived, caffeine-addicted, sacrificing social life etc. to become a good artist. It might help boost some creativity and productivity for some people, but please do NOT ruin your physical and mental health for the sake of your art. You want to live your life not only as an artist but also as a person.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Samuel Kam

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