Earlier this summer, NYC artist Eric Chan was back in Ottawa (his hometown) with big news: he was getting ready to launch his first video app, Hidden Galaxies, a collaboration with gaming company Magmic. This led to several conversations and an exploration of what it can mean to be a multidisciplinary artist. Not just a multitude of talents and a case full of buckle-down discipline, but the drive and curiosity that keeps every artist going. A quest for life, in its many forms. Also known as Eepmon, Eric conducted a series of many-textured interviews for us with artists who inspire him. Well, Eric inspires us, so we did the same ...
What does being a multidisciplinary artist mean to you?
I think the term multidisciplinary has little to do with looking at an individual and counting how many disciplines he/she has at their disposal... It's about looking at the whole picture beyond the realm of simply technique and skill. It's about thinking with an open mind. It's about symmetry. It's about alignment. It's about balance, focus and intuition.
Multidisciplinary is an inherent ability where one can conceive and comprehend only through holistic means. This is through the understanding and appreciation of all of one's qualities as an artist, technologist, writing, entrepreneur...what have you...but most importantly as a human being.
Having understanding this can one use it to their advantage.
That's real talent.
I think that is where the concept of discipline comes into play, too. Do you ever feel that your multidisciplinary nature could cause you to lose focus? When you feel your talents being spread too thin, how do you get back on track or ground yourself?
Yes it takes focus and patience. I realized that this is the way I am and that is how I work best. I think a lot and learned for follow my intuition. I will probably focus no more than 2 major creative projects at a time that I know will yield the most value by channeling my many interests. That's why collaborations are great because I get to be exposed to new experiences with the help of others who are the experts in their respective fields.
I haven't felt that my talent has been spreading too thin...and I think it may have to do with the fact that every half year or so I like to look back and ask myself, "Have I improved? Am I going where I want to go? What do you want? What is next? What is the next challenging thing? I want to collaborate with these guys, how do I go about it?" I constantly think about these questions I guess as a way to measure myself. In a way to reorganize and restructure myself.
We've been talking quite a bit over the last little while and I know you are ready to revamp. What does this mean to you as an artist? Do you feel your style needs changing up, or are you thinking in terms of the types of projects you are willing to take on?
If I feel I have understood and in a way mastered a style then I know it is time to move on. I hate getting comfortable. If I haven't learned anything new or acquired any new skill sets from the result of my work (whether personal or for a client) then I have not lived up to my standard.
As I live my life day-to-day, I know that my views, beliefs, and perception of things will change. The Eric Chan from 3 years ago is not the same Eric Chan that is in the here and now. As a result, my work must reflect who I am today. That is not to say that I won't continue working in my older styles. If I client wants it, then they'll have it!
Well, you've just launched Hidden Galaxies, but you are not one to rest on your laurels. What are you working on right now? Any other collaborations or are you focussing on your own work? What sort of projects are in your hidden galaxy?
Hidden Galaxies was a fun collaboration to work on with Magmic. It was a full 6 month project where I worked very closely with the Magmic team. From art making, directing to marketing - I believe this would be a mobile industry first where a game producer and artist would work so close together at such an extent. I needed to be involved in all aspects of the game because to me it is a work of art in itself. It's visually mind blowing. Hidden Galaxies is available on the Apple iOS AppStore so give it a try!
Moving on, now I am a bit in the fashion world working on an exclusive collaboration with a well respected Canadian heritage outerwear company. I always joked that if I had another career, I would probably be in fashion. So I guess I'm not so far off with my art. I am also in the middle of my new graphic art series which has been taking a longtime...but I know it's going to be worth it! Coming October, I will be traveling to China for about a month with some possible collaborations over there too. Hopefully all will go well!
Title Image: Tokio Kuniyoshi
2nd Image: Riyad Mustapha
4th Image: Tokio Kuniyoshi