We had the good fortune of connecting with Kefan Shi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kefan, why did you pursue a creative career?
I love drawing, and I think, like many people hobby is an essential motivation for pursuing an artistic career. Since I was young, I grew up loving to draw landscapes and comics around me. Whenever I showed my work to friends and family, I was filled with happiness and confidence. The encouragement made me happy with my work, so I applied to an art college. Studying at art college broadened my knowledge of art and drawing, which also introduced me to the illustration field. When I got in touch with myself and entered this major, I sincerely felt that illustration is not only a career but also a space for my inner growth. The process of drawing will make me calm down. Each stroke of the design and arrangement depicts my own ideas. I guess this is the charm of art, to understand and explore myself in the process of drawing pictures. At the same time, I am fortunate to have discovered many great artists in pursuing my art. Every time I look at different outstanding works, I realize that art and drawing are beautiful.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think I am a lucky guy. I love drawing, and I don’t have the idea of change or hesitation about it. I love telling people about my career and hobbies because I really enjoy it. I have always felt that being an illustrator is a profession full of fantasy and magic. Illustrators can draw unrealistic or unimaginable things with various media and hands. This process is like performing magic and special effects, displayed on paper or on the screen.
When it comes to the study of art, it’s also an interesting process. My parents didn’t work in art and didn’t know much about this field. So when I told my parents that I liked drawing and hoped to go to an art university, they were surprised. However, the love of drawing is a hobby that I have been interested in since I was a child. They also quickly respected and agreed to my idea. Whenever they see my work and wonder why I draw like that, they may discuss and learn about the feeling of art with me. I think it’s a mutually positive impact. Seeing my family being so interested and supportive of what I love makes my work grow more.
So I started my art path during my studies at the art university, from undergraduate to freelance for 2 years. Now, I am continuing my graduate studies. It was a valuable experience for me when I went through some work experiences to return and continue my studies. I’m grateful that these experiences have allowed me to think a certain way and understand what I need in my current studies. I would also like to thank my department chair, Whitney, and my advisor, Mai Ly, for their help and generosity throughout my graduate studies.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I were to take my best friends on a city tour, I would take them to various gallery streets. I really like to visit galleries, both big and small, by myself. Near the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is one collection spot of galleries, unique locations, interesting curatorial exhibitions, and various artists.
And, exploring the restaurants . If it’s a group of friends hanging out to eat, hot pot is a must-have thing to do!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Truly there are many people I should say thank you to. I feel so grateful and lucky because I have learned so much from so many people. They have also helped me selflessly in my life and studies.
I would like to thank my family, who has always supported me in my artistic pursuits. They always listened to my ideas and focused on communicating with me when I was having a challenging time. I am grateful for this form of inclusion that allows me to learn to express myself and listen to others. With this, I can create work that portrays my innermost thoughts.
And, living and creating in a different culture, I also appreciate Asian artists and the minority artists who show diversity through their art. So it is very inspiring for me to follow their lead to become such an artist to show my diversity and culture more positively.