TheCosplayChronicles has had the great honour to be invited by STGCC to join their wagon of supporting Blogs this year . So be prepared to see a slew of interviews with the fantabulous guests on this blog.
I had the chance to interview Triston Eaton, Pop Artist who is also a driving force in the world of Designer toys and a creative leader in Commercial Art during the Media Preview that was held at the Marina Bay Sand’s meeting rooms.
Some of the questions below were asked by the other Media representatives present at the group interview. But I decided to include some of them as well because Tristan gave such great in-depth answers xD
Q: Before you arrived here, did you have any perception about Singapore? What was the thing that surprised you?
To be honest, I heard a lot about the restrictions of entering Singapore. You know, Gum, the death sentence for trafficking drugs. You know all these things were intense. And then we got here, we just walked right out. I thought they were going to search us, open all the bags but we just went oop! walked right out.
But its interesting, it seems like Singapore has it's own rules where it's very distinctive to this country. And very different from everywhere else around it.
Q: You have a very interesting history. Your dad sent you to an immersive Art school when you were 8, 11 you fell in love with graffiti and 13 that was your run in. How was that?
Oh the first time I got in trouble? The first time I got caught?
I always got in trouble. I don’t know why I was just always a trouble maker. But not in a bad way. I never hurt anyone or want to hurt anybody. I just want to have fun you know? always want to test the boundary. And I think that that nature folded over into my art career. You know what I mean? Yeah Just want to get into trouble and kinda ignoring the rules. Wanting to do whatever you want to do. I still feel that way in my art ware/make up the rules as you go.
That's one thing I really like about Kidrobot at the beginning, cause there weren't many rules in the Art Toy world. It was like, ok cool, let's make 40 toys that's it. We'll release them this way and do that. Felt like we made up our own rules you know.
I think being that I like being such a trouble maker, it dont think there's any other career path for me but being an artist. If I work in an office I'd be fired in a week. It just worked out that way so it's just in my nature. But luckily being an artist and being so creative at a young age. It got me out of a lot of trouble , like literally it got me out of trouble. I would tell the judge how much art I was making and my teachers would vouch for me. It helped me it was a good thing.
Q: Have anyone who advised you against doing Art when you were a kid?
No, my parents were really supportive. I was so productive as a young young kid that it was abnormal. They were like kinda surprised by it and like “Yeah! Keep going, keep going” I think they just want to see what would happen. Luckily I didn't had anyone around me telling me to stop, I only had people around me telling to me to keep going. And that gave me a lot of courage and gave me a good base of support to keep going and keep exploring and keep creating. So I was very lucky for that.
Q: The culture in Asia especially in Singapore, is a little bit different and Art is not very explored and encouraged by parents. So the young artists have to go through a little bit of challenges. Do you have anything to say to that? Or any advice for them?
Well I think there's maybe a generation gap where an older generation doesn't understand how many ways you can make a living as an artist. I think maybe those young artist need to educate their parents about that. Tell them if you look around the room, everything in here was designed by someone. The chair, the wall, the speaker , everything in our world is designed by an artist. And that kinda opens up your eyes to how important artist are to every community and every society. And you know most young, creative children who make art don't know yet what field of art they are gonna go into. But its so vast! If its industrial design, if its production design for television, animation or comic books or whatever.
I think maybe there's a stigma to imagining someone as an artist, just painting paintings in a studio somewhere waiting for someone to buy one. But that's a stereotype, there's so many ways to make a living as an artist now. I think that maybe the older generation doesn't understand that, so you know, every kid just have to say screw it to their parents eventually anyway. Get it over with haha. I don't know if that's the best advice but haha..
Q: There's so many types of art fields these days as you mentioned. Is there ones which you particularly feel you wish you could have been better in or know more about?
Yeah, I think I'm waiting to get into painting with oil later in my life maybe? The early experiences I had were hard for me cos I am colour deficient. I have colour blindness so it's only certain colours I can see and other colours I can't see well at all. And that's a very weird thing being an artist and being colour blind.
So when I first started learning to paint with oil there are certain colours I couldn't see that are imperative in painting in oil. Like painting a figure,especially you have to see the greens and the purples and the blues in the skin tones. And I wasn't seeing those, so it was hard for me to duplicate the complexity of human skin in oil paint. Very hard for me you know. So I kinda feel like alright when I'm old, I'll oil paint haha. I'll wait till I'm 50 or 60 and then just get into it and figure it out haha. But right now now I don't have time to get over what I feel like are hurdles for me.
Q: But how is this going to happen with your colour deficiency? Did you learn how to then kind of work out what colours they are to people like us without colour deficiency?
Well it's a weird thing because before I knew i was colour blind or once i found out I was colour blind I should say, I looked back on my work and saw what effect it had on my colour choices. I looked back and all my work is like primary colour, it's like blue, red , yellow, pink and it was because those were the colours I saw the richest. And then I hated that! I hated that I was using this palette that was so obvious and so primary that I rebelled against that and I started doing works that was more sepia and grayscale kind of in this world just to avoid that. But then as I go deeper into my painting, the way I figured out how to kinda trick myself so that I could use the colours I want to but have it not be so (typical that) I hate it in the end. So whatever colours i choose I added lots of grey into them and then they end up being softer and not as primary.
Example is this painting in this sticker. Like this one, I added grey in all the colours, if I used the colours the way I originally would have then it would have been much more primary and bolder and not as subtle. So I kinda have to trick myself a little bit I guess. Weird right?
Q: Well you found a way around it and made it work so that's what it matters.
Yeah I guess so! It's something I always kind of struggling with. If you sat me down with a bunch of crayons that weren't labelled, I'd made a piece that was really messed up. There'd be like green in the skin tone and be like really messed up. But I know colour theory so I know how to apply colour when I can choose the colour when it's label in front of me. but without that it's hard for me to see colours the way you see it.
Q: so you have to go through a very rigorous string of self disciple and training to be able to get to where you are and be as good in the medium as you are now. Can you talk more about that?
Yeah, i think that I have maybe short changed myself in some ways but given myself maybe more doorways in others. I don't just work in one medium, I work in many. And that's a drawback because it hasn' given me the time to fully explore my ability in each medium. Bt at the same time it's given me the open doorways to all these other options. And as I grow up and mature as an artist I've found that the idea behind the art is the most important thing and that idea dictates medium.
So this great idea might be destined to be a sculpture but if I can't command the materials for a sculpture then I can't do it and I'll end up painting it. And that's not the right application of e idea so I try to learn as many materials as possible so that i can do justice to the idea behind the art.
The benefits have outweighed the drawbacks in that so in each of these materials that I like to work with, I can go further and deeper or get better but at this point, at least I have a good enough command of a wide variety to do whatever i want or what i feel is right for the work. Even though i could be a better painter, I could be a better toy designer , I could be better at everything but I need that variety to kind of feel like I'm doing justice to my vision as an artist.
Q: Do you think that being an artist actually should be ready to break the boundaries and that's what drives you creatively
Definitely, I think that might be the difference between an artist and an illustrator. What I didn't like about illustration work is you're being told to do something and then you do it and it’s done. There isn't a lot of room for your own interpretation of it. These days the commercial projects that I get, i do because they give me freedom. But I think the nature of a modern day artist in our day and age is that person who is breaking boundary and testing how we see how the world or what our rules in the world are.
Look at Ai Weiwei for example, he is a great example of someone pushing the boundaries and testing what's ok. same with Murakami, these are 2 amazing Asian artists who are opening doors for western artists. You see Murakami making vinyl figures and toys and they are considered art or they are an extension of his bigger body of fine Art. That makes it easier for artist like myself to say "Yeah, I'm doing the same thing. he did it too" so all that artist that pioneered and paved a path for the other artist behind them. And those boundaries open up more and more every decade.
Q: Art is a very subjective thing, it’s very much about inspiration, motivational and passion but ‘Commercial’ is the other way round. So what do you have to say about it when these two have to mix.
I think there is a certain amount of practical thinking that has to be applied to it when you're bringing fine art into the commercial art arena. I feel that as much of an artist that I am, as crazy as I like to get, I'm still very practical. I have a very practical approach to madness. So when I do a fine art project for a commercial context, part of me is always considering " Will this give them the effect they want, will this achieve the goal? " so there's a little more attention made to that .
I won’t lie, I’ve never been a fan of Pop Art. Not like I hate or disrespect it , it just never appealed to my personal preference.
But this experience with this artist has really opened my perception and is making me learn to view his genre of art in a new light. Reiko and Brian who were with me all left the Media Preview feeling very impressed by his dedication to Art and the amount of technical knowledge he had in his craft. I even went up to him after our interview to tell him how much I respect what he has done and how he has proved to the world how transformative Art can be. Doing so much things to a Kid that always got into trouble and bringing him to great heights. It was very embarrassing for me but I just felt I had to tell him that *buries head in mud*