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CHOPPING BLOCK: ERIC FAN

Why do I own a Mac, enjoy the films of Luc Besson, and listen to Refused? Because I have a "Cool Older Brother"... or at least that's what he would say if you ask him. When we're not arguing over who's stealing who's jokes, he's usually reminding me how incredibly lame my life would be without his guidance.

While the urge resist these claims are deeply embedded in my "Lame Younger Brother" brain, I'll have to admit there's a slight modicum of truth to his claims. If it weren't for his constant ridicule, I'd probably be driving a raised truck while blasting Kid Rock on my way to pick up a new Famous Stars & Straps belt-buckle at Zumiez.

Enter Eric Fan, a man who is quite literally the world's Coolest Older Brother. This week we were able to speak with Eric as he discusses his telekinetic relationship with brother Terry, and offers the insight and wisdom of that only an older sibling can experience.

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EF1

POW: While doing research on yourself, I discovered that you work a day job as a driver for a construction company, and that when you draw, it's during your free time. Do you feel that having a normal day job encourages you to maximize your efforts when illustrating since your free time is incredibly limited?

ERIC: Yeah, definitely. It's tough sometimes because after a long day at work my motivation is sometimes limited to "What should I watch on Netflix tonight?". It's really only weekends when I can accomplish anything significant because you need a kind of mental firewall from your work week to get into a creative frame of mind (at least, that's how it is for me). Once I find that headspace I definitely try to capitalize on it and stay there for as long as possible, sometimes to the detriment of my living space which typically falls into ruin if I'm working on something in earnest. I do wish I had more time to work on art, but who knows... maybe if I had unlimited time it would create a new kind of paralysis.

EF2ESCAPE by Eric Fan

POW: As we all know, your brother Terry is also an artist as well. Being a (little) brother myself, I recall several instances where I was not allowed to touch my brother's belongings, while he had free reign to borrow/break any of my possessions whenever he saw fit (at least that's how I remembered it :P). Although the two of you seem to be very close, did you have any similar experiences with Terry when the two of you were growing up?

ERIC: Haha, we're actually only a year and a half apart in age, so growing up we never had the typical older brother/younger brother dynamic exactly. I'd liken it more to being twins since people would sometimes mix us up and we had that close relationship, psychic mind-meld, that twins seem to have. I think in part that's because we moved around so much when we were younger. It was hard to make friends since we were never established in one place for very long and so we tended to rely on each other. It's funny, but in some ways that rootless existence probably influenced both of us in terms of fostering our early imaginations. I remember we developed this very elaborate alternate world when we were kids that we would talk about, illustrate, and draw maps of. Not to get too psychoanalytical, but looking back I think it was partly that lack of a constant "home base" that inspired us to create an imaginative one that we could carry around with us from place to place. That became our constant. Our first collaboration, in fact, was when I was around four or five and we transformed our bedroom into a proxy of this world by covering the walls with drawings.

EF4AUTUMN CHAMELEONS by Eric Fan

POW: Both of your styles definitely seem to compliment each other. In regards to the steam-punk/old-timey style that you and Terry embrace, did one of you create that style and the other followed? Or was it something the two of you built upon together?

ERIC: I think I was the first one to go in that direction. It's definitely an aesthetic we've both always been attracted to, but I think I was the first to start actually drawing stuff in that style. Terry's work at the time was a lot different than what it eventually evolved into. I remember him doing these crazy, Gary Baseman-like drawings that were actually really cool. Around the same time I had just started doing t-shirt design and my first printed design was The Helium Menagerie, which had that vintage, old-timey look. After that Terry started doing some t-shirt designs and employing some of those same signatures, but I've subsequently taken a lot from him as well since then. It's kind of a back-and-forth of seeing what the other person has been doing and getting inspired by that, and vice versa. Maybe the twin mind-meld is still at work.

EF5THE CHAMELEON COLLECTOR by Eric Fan

POW: In addition to working with your brother, you have collaborated with several different artists as well, one of them being POW artist Viviana Gonzalez. I find this very interesting because she is in Chile and you're in Canada. Could you please describe your collaboration process with us and what steps are necessary to complete a piece of artwork with another artist?

ERIC: In the digital age it's pretty easy, actually. I was already Facebook friends with Viviana and always admired her work, so when she approached me about doing a collaboration I thought it would be fun, and interesting to see how our styles could possibly mesh. Her only instructions were that she wanted a character riding a penny farthing, so I drew the character and sent her the layered file and she transposed it into some of her imaginative environments. It was really as simple as that. Not every collaboration is that easy but it's nice when the person you're working with has a clear idea of what they want and you can trust them to do their thing without any interference.

EF6MUSIC MAN IN THE WOODS by Eric Fan and Viviana Gonzalez

POW: I've read that the recent surge of print on demand businesses over the past couple of years (such as Prints On Wood) rekindled your passion for creating art. In your opinion, why do you think these websites are beneficial to up and coming artists, and what advantages do they offer?

ERIC: I think the beauty of print on demand sites is that they offer artists a great platform to showcase their work to a wide audience that wouldn't have otherwise been available to them. The internet has really thrown open the door for artists to a global market, which is pretty unprecedented and amazing when you stop to think about it. For an artist like me who enjoys working on their art without any deadlines or having to meet the criteria of a client's brief, it's been a godsend. I know some artists who thrive under that pressure, I've just never been one of them. Print on demand sites allow for enormous autonomy and creative independence, and I love the communities that tend to develop around them, with the opportunity to interact with other artists you admire as well as getting to know the people behind the sites themselves (like Prints on Wood) who also tend to be creative and passionate about art. It's incredibly inspiring and motivating to be a part of that.

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Thank you Eric, we're glad to have ya!

To learn more about the weird wonderful world of Eric Fan, please visit his website at: http://www.krop.com/opifan64/

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