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Monday, September 20, 2010

Kevin Tong Surreal Illustrator of Robots and Other Dreams


 Official web-site Tragic Sunshine

I entered a diner near Donut King in Culver City. Try Donut King it won big at the Donut Summit I went to. I waited for a bit and found myself face to face with Kevin Tong.

       If you aren't in the poster community or just hope art dies you probably don't know Mr. Tong. Kevin recently had his Mechanical Dreams show in Long Beach.

           Binary Heartbeat. Mechanical human synthesis in a dream, a type of surreal way of looking at robotic and human relations was how Kevin explained the 6 new pieces he created for his newest show.

         And the just released poster for David Bowie's son's movie Moon.It's a great Sci-Fi movie and it's hard to believe Sam Rockwell who played  Zaphod Beeblebrox is the star. Kevin was telling me of it's imeniet release before I saw it linked on OMG posters, Slash/Film and Superpunch.

            So as I sat down with this young Vegan. Yes, Kevin is a vegan, which Kevin gave note many people don't realize. As we sat down outside we discussed his Noho Robo design, which is the whole reason I wanted to get to know him. We laughed when I told him other teams in the robot league would go up to the Noho Robos asking to buy their shirts. It's funny he had know idea and wonder what high school team dealt with robots.

                   After realizing outside the diner sucked we went inside to the back. I asked about Kevin's past.
He went to High school all over the place and is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach. For a party college he seems to have learned a lot. Kevin shared he was a bit of loner while growing up. Drawing seemed to sustain him, he just enjoyed drawing by himself. He, however got into posters after going to Comic-con, but before that he was already an illustrator. Kevin highly recommends going to Comic-con to get inspired and see many other options and see what people are doing.
           Then I asked what jobs do you get as a illustrator. I really didn't think of anything other than book art. Kevin explained he had many different jobs. So many zany jobs he said. One of his first jobs was doll accessories."Not the actual doll", Kevin said just the accessories. He illustraed and wrote kids books called the Earth Machine. He worked in house on children educational material. Kevin's quite poud of some Alphabet cards from local LA business Lakeshore Learning. "Never worked at Hallmark", he replied when I asked. He said many artist he knew did at one point. I just think if your an artist you've worked for Hallmark. Designed toys for Jakks Pacific and Discovery Toys like Scanpedia. He designed the game board with the dinosaurs for Scanpedia. Also the magnifiying eye toy he help design.
               Shifting focus to Kevin going to art events and festivals. Kevin feels that now that he has some more notoriety, he needs to push himself to do more. He shows off his work at festivals, but his a little torn to just get up and see his friends and others work. What was funny was hearing his regret of being too busy to help everyone at his booth. Kevin shared seeing someone looking like there going to buy something of his at his booth and seeing them leaving do to the line pisses him off. Kevin was also just at Flatstock, a big poster and art show in San Fran and seems to be trailing with the Renegade Craft Fair, which I got bored at quite fast at the one here in LA.
          I brought up Jesse Phillips another well known poster artist . Jesse doesn't release the much very often. When I asked Kevin if he'd be like that he simply said, "I have bills to pay."
         He also said,  "Probably why I don't play video games, or watch sports, because I love drawing. I draw every day, all day long". We got into discussion of his likes and dislikes. I asked mainly because I wondered what inspired his somewhat sci-fi work. The man has watched all of  The X-Files. He owns all 9 seasons on dvd. I asked how'd he get past when Mulder left. Then we talked bout how the Lone Rangers were killed in the show. We were both saddened by this. He just plays it in the background when drawing. Kevin said, "If you could stop the show while watching it I could tell you the next thing people would say word for word".

Sci-Fi wasn't what he was trying to convey , but more of a dream like or surreal state. Like just one thing is off,  like the famous Magritte painting with a apple in front of a bowler topped man "Son of Man". BTW his favorite episode "Home" with the inbred hillbilly family.

Here's his Scott Pilgrim poster, that really captures the end of the book.
Here's his site again. Remember not to wait at his site and keep clicking refresh to get the poster you want. Just wait till the designated time. Cause it might cost more bandwith for Kevin.