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A chat with Illustrator David Huang
David grew up in the colourful streets of Taipei, Taiwan, and is now located primarily in New York.
Fempire 23 Aug 2022

Meet Illustrator and Designer David Huang ( @omguac )

David grew up in the colourful streets of Taipei, Taiwan, and is now located primarily in New York, when he is not traveling around the globe.

David’s works have been recognized by 3×3, American Illustration, World Illustrationn Awards, and Society of Illustrators, and his clients include The New Yorker, Pop-Up Magazine, Bloomberg, and Oatly, to name a few.

Here, David’s friend and Art Writer, Peigi Mackillop, sat down with the creative, over a bowl of spicy noodles, to get to know more about his craft and story.

Hi David, tell me about yourself, your work, and how you became an Illustrator?

I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to San Francisco when I was 14. In 2013, I studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. I initially applied for a painting degree, but after my foundation year, I fell in love with illustration. After graduating, I moved to New York, and have been a freelance illustrator ever since. Last year I visited London and fell in love with the city, so I am back again, this time for 3 months. The energy really matches this stage of my life. I have high hopes to now relocate here one day!

How would you describe your style?

I would say a lot of colours. Expressive lines. Obsessive details. And overall, my designs are fun and playful. My upbringing in Taipei is also a big influence on my work. The cultural kaleidoscope of Taipei is infectious, there is a bounty of inspiration that comes from that city if you look closely at my work. Taking inspiration from my home country also helps me stay connected to my roots.

What three colours on your palette are you using excessively at the moment?

A common theme in my practice is pushing myself out of my comfort zone, this also applies to my use of colour. I try to use colours I am uncomfortable with in most of my designs. I also love primary colours naturally, and any iterations from that. I also feel like black, and brown are important in my line work. My work relies a lot on lines.

As a freelancer, do you have an agent, or do you work alone?

I currently do not work with an agent, but it could be a possibility in the future.

How to do source work?

Networking primarily and a lot of cold emailing, which is not glamorous. On the flip side, my clients also source me out, across various platforms including Instagram, working not working, and through word of mouth.

What are the steps you take; from the moment you get the brief until it is ready to be delivered?

The first step is always brainstorming and sketching, then I usually send 3-5 sketches to the Art Director. After they pick the design they like, they push me toward a direction, and I work on the final. Sometimes there is some back and forth on refining some details. The timeline can affect this process. Sometimes, I have as little as a 12-hour turnaround on projects. In these cases, there will be fewer edits.

What are the pros and cons of being freelance?

As a freelancer, you must be comfortable wearing multiple hats. Alongside being an illustrator, I am a marketer, accountant, businessman, web designer, the list goes on. The biggest con is the unstable pay and occasionally chasing up payments, which is never fun! The main pro is that the world is my office. I feel free. As long as I have my laptop, paper, and pens, then I can work from anywhere. The flexibility is great. I am a fast worker, so I have a lot of free time on my hands. However, this flexibility means you also must be disciplined.

What is your favorite thing in the world to illustrate?

There are subjects I always go to. I love buildings. I like drawing people with funny shapes. I like cars a lot – haha, I know I sound a bit like a child. I try to also challenge myself to draw things I haven’t drawn before, but I feel like those subjects are surprisingly running out, there are only a limited number of things in the world.

On average, how many hours a day do you spend drawing?

On a day when I have a job, 7-8 hours. When I do not have a lot of jobs 1-2 hours.  And sometimes I don’t even draw. I am an illustrator who does not need to draw every day. Some illustrators really need to draw every day. I do question myself, am I an illustrator, even though I don’t draw every day, as I don’t even feel guilty for it.

What do you enjoy doing, outside of illustrating?

Similar to my illustration, I love a challenge and anything new. I love learning languages. I am currently learning German on Duolingo ahead of my trip to Berlin. I sometimes do language exchanges with people. And I generally do a French class once a week, for the past 5 years. I am a big foodie and love trying different cuisines. I want to try a bit of everything.

Do you enjoy music or silence when working? And if music what were the last three songs you listened to? And be honest!

I do love music or a podcast while I am working. It helps me get into the groove. Recently, one of the playlist I created named ‘Love Letter To My Home – Taiwan’ was selected to be played on NTS radio. It is a Taiwanese nostalgia playlist, much of what my parents’ generation would’ve listened to. I have had it on repeat for the past month. You can listen to the playlist here.

What do you do to get out of a creative rut?

I think walking helps a lot. And honestly, just not thinking about it for a bit.

What would your advice be to aspiring illustrators?

Be persistent. Time is your biggest resource. It takes a lot of patience to start getting more and more clients.

You can find out more about David and his work via his website: www.david-huang.com and his Instagram @omguac

Illustrations all by David Huang
Photos of David Huang by Peigi Mackillop

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