August 22, 2015

To give them meaning

To whom did I send this recently?

"The banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual? [...] how are we to speak of these common things, how to track them down, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they are mired, how to give them meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what it is, who we are."

George Perec, Species of Spaces, 1974

A world of quiet

It occurred to me recently how much my relationship to drawing is informed by a deep skepticism about my authority as an author — as an eye, an arbiter of visibilities, a translator of our world.

Why should one thing be chosen over another? What insight can my point of view bring? Are my attempts at beauty — in character, narrative, or form — universal or fair in any respect, and in what ways are they reflective of bias? Is drawing from the real world a kind of aesthetic imperialism?

I draw what I see: but who am I? Who am I to draw? Who am I to see? And what do I see? For many years now I've lived with the understanding that the things that we draw and the way that we draw them are reflective of our innermost selves: our sensitivities and sensibilities, in sensual and social terms. It is no revelation to say that there is a politics of representation, but I find the responsibility too much to bear at times.

When I look back at my body of work, I see happy, gentle faces, characters holding onto the thin belief that everything will be okay. There is a sense of temporality to their existence; and pat resignation. They can be wistful, but aren't sentimental. They are alone.

There are happy dogs, and children in quiet moments; long women, pleasantly occupied, and dense and desolate urban spaces. This is a world of quiet; slow melancholy; soft isolation; summer light, afternoon light. A lot of being in the moment; of wide eyed not knowing. Life passing.

Reading these as a confession, I gather some sense of myself: that I have a flat but optimistic outlook, skeptical but bright, staid and fragile. This is not a world in which one becomes alarmed: rather, one moves through it, softly, slowly.

May 19, 2015

The Rose and I

For the past three months, I've been the production designer on a virtual reality short film for Penrose Studios. Last night I had my first premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival!

May 18, 2015

I've been off the radar for a time; for many years working on super secret stuff at Pixar Animation Studios (work you've likely seen in one form or another by now; I'll tell you some stories about Pixar later : ) —, and for the last few, doing brand storytelling and strategy work for the swiftly moving and very dynamic startup, Airbnb.

I haven't made much of an effort to publicize this work, but it's been fascinating, expansive, and exciting, and, despite my general modesty, some of it has garnered attention in the business world, gaining mention in such auspicious places as Fast CompanyInc. Magazine, The Harvard Business Review, and Sequoia Capitol's blog, Grove, to name a few choice publications.

The work has aged a little — it's a few years old now — but it was realized with all the love, sincerity, and careful attention that I brought my to my work in animation, and, really, to all of the projects I've had the pleasure of working on. I learned so much in the process of collaborating with the bright and enthusiastic artists and designers I met at Airbnb and I'd love to share a some of our work and tell you a bit about the process of making it.

It might take some time, but stay tuned! These have been some big years.


Nick Sung

April 02, 2015

"What steps can I take to become an artist if I can only manage stick figures?"  — a question from Quora

Art begins with inquiry, and the fact that you're asking this question is, in and of itself, a wonderful first step. There isn't a single clear path to becoming an artist. And the practice means many things, as artists work in all variety of media, and pursue many forms of concern. The choice of medium, in many ways, interacts with / dictates / draws out / complicates / inspires / and limits the inquiry; the two are interrelated. 

Regarding drawing: there isn't much more to it than lines, so you're off to a good start! Lines are where we all begin: it's simply a matter of seeing where you can take them. Read books, take classes, draw with friends, and find out what works best for you; everyone you speak with will have a different approach. Be open to them, and be critical of them. Some will lead to dead ends, some to epiphanies; some will restrict your thinking, and others will open more doors. The more you can enjoy the challenge of learning to draw, the more you'll grow. What this all means is that you should just enjoy drawing and stay curious about it. 

And as for stick figures: when I worked at Pixar, where I taught figure drawing classes, it was always the basics that tripped people up — people were always so eager to skip ahead. My simple advice: don't sell the basics short: they're the building blocks of your knowledge. A circle must be round, a straight line must be straight, and a curved line curved in just the right way. More angled or less? Is something heavy or light? In front or behind? Being able to knowingly, sensibly relate lines and forms — that's the whole thing; that's drawing.

For drawing, curiosity, and it's products, some books I recommend: 
  • Drawing: For the Artistically Undiscovered, by Quentin Blake 
  • The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri 
  • Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, by Lawrence Weschler and Robert Irwin

March 30, 2015

I'm not the biggest fan of hearing myself / seeing myself, but here's a link to a talk I gave earlier this winter:

Nicholas Andre Sung at Mission Comics as part of the Spring Talk Series, curated by Quintessa Matranga. A txt companion to moving piece, from CoCo Confidential, an exhibition curated by Matthew Linde (Melbourne) and Quintessa Matranga (San Francisco).

March 04, 2015

they speak!

~ tonight at mission comics, from 7 pm onward ~

January 14, 2015

spent some of the last few days painting, plotting, imagining. 

it seems like the time time to wander across fields.