My creations go beyond art, making it is a way of life.
I had the huge pleasure of meeting Eric Chan in Tokyo over the winter holidays in 2018.
Eric Chan aka “EEPMON” is an artist and designer working at the intersections of computer code and drawing. His creations bridge the gap between analog and digital worlds, tradition and modernity and the handmade with digital design.
I hope you enjoy my 11Q’s with EEPMON!
1. It was so cool to meet you in Japan while you were out there digital nomading. Are you based back in Ottawa now? Or are you still on the nomad circuit? What’s life like being a freelancer artist traveling the world?
Dot, it was so great to meet up in Tokyo too (S/O Simon Conlin)! I’m based in Ottawa, the capital of Canada… or as I like to call it the ALLCAPS. Being here I can have direct communication with what goes on with the FEDs. Geographically, the city is well within an hour’s flight proximity to New York City, Toronto, and Montreal.
I’m currently writing to you from an AWS pop-up studio in SOHO, NYC… Just had a VERY productive meeting and suffice to say some exciting developments will happen this summer (stay tuned!). I’ve come to accept that my “nomadness” is part of my day-to-day life. It is a big part of my job as an artist, freelancer and entrepreneur. Part of my creation process I need constant visual stimulation and therefore am constantly guided by my curiosity to seek new adventures and experiences.
Looking back, I have met so many interesting like-minded people who are themselves explorers too. We all agree that it is like a pilgrimage of sorts. Traveling (preferably alone) allows you to connect, reflect and be in your element. You are in some way at your rawest form. You’re on your own and it’s up to you to decide how you will navigate. NO ONE is accountable BUT YOU. My career as a Digital Artist is my natural high and I’m addicted to it. My mind is constantly on GO mode…conjuring up new ideas, projects and then I get super excited. It is incredibly fulfilling when I can manifest ideas into reality.
Traveling alone it’s a way to test and reflect. Testing because I want to see how far I can take my career. Reflecting because traveling provides me with new perspectives, an open mind and connection with communities different from my own. I guess you can say this is a lifestyle that can keep up with my mentality! Move Fast / Sharp Minded!
Can you tell us how you get your ideas and what’s your creative process like? To me your digital artwork is very inspired by asian culture…. do you think so? Do you consider yourself having an asian “style”?
Under my alias EEPMON, my artistic practice explores the intersection of computer code and drawing. This is represented through fractal code based graphics with the handmade + digital designs.
My process is shaped by chance and certainty, improvisation and script, affect and effect. Combined with an entrepreneurial lens, this has allowed me to work across industries spanning fine arts, fashion, video games to museums and education.
Music plays a huge role in my creation process as well. From heavy rap / trap, vaporwave to beautiful compositions by Joe Hisaishi, they all play influence to my work. For most people it is totally acceptable to see that my style is inspired by Asian origin. Me however, I see it as what I grew up around with. Chopsticks and bowl of rice is not a novelty. I grew up with them. I was constantly surrounded by East and West cultures and VIDEO GAMES. I played so much video games in my youth… But you know that is how these things inform who I am today. I remember when I first picked up Photoshop and started painting pixels…let me say that again, PAINTING PIXELS!!! Just think about that. Here I was playing video games and now I can create those same graphics in any colour combination at will. This was a very powerful realization. I knew then that digital tools will be my acrylic brushes and the screen as my traditional canvas.
3. You’ve done some amazing collabs, how were you able to design for some of these dream brands? How did these dream projects come to life? Did they reach out to you or you reached out to them? Who’s your agent?
EEPMON has no agent. EEPMON is a digital design studio, brand and doubles up as my artist moniker.
Regarding collaborations, I reached out to Dani Reiss, CEO of luxury outerwear Canada Goose. Basically, I said to him, “Dani, in Canada we don’t do enough collaborations (Ok you do jackets with Drake but that’s different). Authenticity both at our cores and at the frontier of what we do, why don’t we explore what this collaboration can look like?” After meetings with Dani, his team and many conceptual designs later, overtime we developed a very trusting relationship. We grew together and explored together. I was involved throughout the parka’s development process from conceptualizing, garment designing, textile sampling, artwork creation, prototyping, marketing to distribution. The rest is history. If people want to know more about my collaboration I recommend reading the Canada Goose’s “Greatness is Out There” coffee table hardcover book published by Assouline.
Sometimes opportunities come to me, but most of the time I have found that real collaborations come about through face-to-face engagement. Sure, we work digitally but I also think more than ever having real social, genuine face time interaction is essential to get things done in the Digital Age.
80% is pure hustle, sweat, and building relationships.
4. I know for us creatives we are great at creativity and shit at business. How had the learning process of running a freelance business been? Anything lessons learned you want to share with us??
The education system never taught us creatives how to manage money or run a business. Therefore my process was quite trial and error. I’m a very hands-on type and that is how I learned the art of business. Creatives lack marketing skills. I tell you right now 20% is talent and 80% is marketing and I’m being generous on this stat. You can be the best artist ever but that’s all you’ll ever get… 20%. 80% is pure hustle, sweat, and building relationships.
I’m not saying that you need to aggressively grow you Instagram account, but you need to find the right channels that works for you to connect with industry. I always believe there are more than one way to get something. I never think that I am unable to attain my far-fetched dreams. Dreams is wall we have so THINK BIG! If you can manifest your dreams into reality that’s what I call RAW WILL POWER. If it doesn’t, don’t give up and KEEP GOING!
5. You wear your failures proud on your sleeve and have a talk and wrote a chapter essay about failing more. Can you tell us the story about how you learned to #failmore?
Quite simply my essay titled, #Failmore for the book Canadian Failures implies that we shouldn’t be looking at things as success or failure. We as humans seem to collectively categorize by marking things as positive and/or negative. Why is that? How can you grow if you are always getting success? If you did, I would be very worried for you. You’re only seeing half the picture and you will not have any contingency plan if you fail. If you want the big picture, one must change the mindset from aiming for success to JUST DO IT…Wait-a-sec…that could be one of the prime reasons why that slogan has permeated through all corners of the world (mind blown).
Anyway back to topic, you must appreciate and be mindful of the entire experience outcome. IT’S OK TO FEEL LIKE SHIT! That’s normal in our game! There are lessons learned at every step. We shouldn’t be embarrassed or hide if the outcome does not meet to “societal expectations”. If you succeed, good for you. If you fail, good for you. JUST KEEP DOING IT!
6. What is your philosophy about life? Or a mantra, quote or proverb you want to share with us?
Here are some:
- “It’s hard for a very good reason…if it were easy EVERYONE would be doing it.”
- “FOCUS, ALIGNMENT, PERSEVERE”
- “If I die today, I know that I have done as much as I could in this lifetime.”
- “Life is a big joke. Have fun with it.”
- “I will not allow external forces dictate / determine the path I lead.”
- “People who are too safe are too boring.”
- “People who are afraid are VERY boring.”
- “I cringe at mediocrity and triviality…worst of all it’s EVERYWHERE!”.
Dragons are omnipotent, wholesome, wise and take good naps.
7. What’s your dream travel destination or the next place you want to visit? #TravelWithDot
I’d like to travel to the moon and do an artist residency there. I got what it takes to be an astronaut!
8. What’s your favorite restaurant you would take me to in Ottawa, and what would we order? #EatWithDot
If you come to Canada’s HQ, I’ll take you to the Whales Bone. Oysters, seafood and sustainability in mind.
9. What are your favorite iPhone Apps right now?
Mail, iMessage, Instagram and WeChat (yes all business)
10.Who has been a mentor or someone you have looked up to for advice and inspiration?
My mentor which I will not name because he likes it that way lives in Los Angeles. He’s done it all…Hollywood, Calabasas life, successful entrepreneur before that word became mainstream, globetrotter, and he’s still in the thick of it. If I am the Himura Kenshin, he is the Hiko Seijuro.
11. Dragon or Unicorn? Why?
I pick Dragon. Unicorns are too flashy bling blang. Dragons are omnipotent, wholesome, wise and take good naps.
The Fast 5
Your favorite Instagram feeds right now:
RAPPERS: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Wu-Tang Clan, 6ix9ine, Lil Wayne, Lil pump
VAPORWAVE: Ryan Celsius, DJ YUNG VAMP, Satellite Young, Vaperror
CERAMICS: Hasami Porcelain, Yumiko iihoshi porcelain, Kaikado
What is the Best Life advice (or lesson learned in business) you ever received:
I learned that you absolutely must be proactive if you are to accomplish anything. Whether it’s going to the gym, making healthy decisions for your meals to getting projects. NOTHING will happen if you don’t move first.
Best website/destination you go to for inspiration:
Shrines in Japan.
The App you can’t live without?
Messaging apps that connect me to the world.
Book we should all read?
I like reading content that are brief, direct, informative and to the point. Monocle is one such example.
Latest EEPMON music video collab with Satellite Young!