Creative Conversations : Stanley Chow, Illustrator


Creative Conversations is a new feature series focused on shining a light on creatives under the radar. We aim to have 'creative conversations' with some of the most innovative creatives in the world today. Next up on the series is illustrator, Stanley Chow from Manchester.


What inspired you most to become an Artist/Illustrator?

Not having to carry on the family business in running a Chinese takeaway was my inspiration… Not wanting to have a ‘real’ job. I knew from a very young age that I was pretty good at drawing and art… and I knew there was nothing that was going to get in my way in achieving my artistic ambitions. I have to say I was encouraged by my parents too, which is a rare thing being a second generation Chinese boy living in England.

You have created illustrations for big names such as The New Yorker, how has that been like? Is there a lot of pressure with big brands?

There used to be a pressure when I was younger, because you couldn't believe that these brands would want to use your work… It’s less so now because you get used to it I guess, as I'm pretty confident in my own abilities. Having said that.. there’s always pressure on you regardless of the size of the brand…I put pressure on myself to make sure I always do a good job and also never to miss a deadline. Admittedly not every job I’ve done has been great.. but I’ve never missed a deadline. But with the New Yorker, that was a huge deal… I knew I wanted to establish myself as a New Yorker illustrator when I was still at Art School… It was around 2008 when I got my first New Yorker commission.. I had to wait 4 years until I got my next one… but I’m pretty much a regular in the magazine, which is nice.

Since your time creating, What has been the best and worst thing you've learnt?

The best thing I’ve learnt is that the more hours you dedicate to creating, the better you become. You’re constantly learning whilst doing this job. The worst thing is that being a workaholic is that it’s incredibly hard to find the work-life balance, especially when you’re married with 2 kids.

Where or how do you find inspiration for your work, Is there a process you go through beforehand? 

To be honest with you, I can’t pinpoint particularly where I find inspiration… Inspiration I think is something that happens all around you in your day to day life… from silly things your kids say to seeing a pattern on someone’s jacket in a film you were watching on Channel 4 at 2 in the morning. I surround myself with pictures and books, I’m an Instagram addict and all these things help inspire me I guess.

There is a stigma that designers, animators, painters, illustrators, creators, don't get enough credit for their craft and are sometimes 'forgotten' about? do you agree and why?

Admittedly it’s not something I’m too worried about nowadays. I’m just happy I got the job in the first place, get paid and then move onto the next commission. Most of the time,  the general public couldn’t give two shits about who did what and when… If someone wants to find out who illustrated, designed whatever, that person will go and discover for themselves who did it.  If you want to be recognised in your field, it should be your job to make yourself known, not somebody else’s. 

How did the idea for your illustrative style come about? Did you think it would be received so well?

My style came about because in the first 10 years of my career, nobody knew who I was or even cared, I wasn’t really happy with the illustrations I was producing, I was mainly producing work that I thought would help me find more work… disillusionment made me re-think my direction… I started learning how to use Adobe Illustrator, I started illustrating things that I liked and wanted to do, regardless of what other people thought and I discovered a new sense of freedom. I think it’s been quite well received, I guess I wouldn’t be doing this interview if it wasn’t.

What is your favourite Illustration or design from a purely creative point of view you've come across and why?

It’s probably the Fly TWA / New York Poster by David Klein. I love posters that combine both type and illustration. It’s something I’d like to do more of, which why I admire it so much. Also Klein has managed to recognisably illustrate Time Square with so much vibrancy by just using a series of abstract shapes and lines. He’s captured the essence of New York with so much simplicity

As a professional yourself, What advice do you have for young illustrators growing up today?

Illustrate the things you love and have an interest in, as why wouldn’t want to illustrate the things you love, I think it’s stupid to do anything else. (I have to say, when I was younger, I was stupid)… but also treat it like a job… you need to put the hours in, as it will make a better illustrator.

If you could pick one iconic design or illustration from Sport, music, movies or TV you wish you created yourself, which one would it be?

It’s not so much one iconic design, but there is one design ambition which I have yet to achieve and that’s to design the mascot for the World Cup or Olympic Games.

And finally, What have you got planned for the future or what can we expect?

I have no set plans for the future, just to carry on illustrating like I have done for the past 20 years for another 20 years and I would also say to lower your expectations. 

Follow Stanley Chow on Twitter Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with Stanley's future projects or Visit his website on www.stanleychow.co.uk