Art meets fashion in the stylish work of Janice Sung.

Meet the Artist May 25, 2018

We spoke to Janice Sung about Procreate, freelancing, and her creative process.

LightBox Expo 2022 at the Pasadena Convention Center

We recently had the pleasure of working with freelance illustrator Janice Sung for the Procreate Pocket 2 launch. We were blown away by the incredible artwork she created, and had the chance to ask her a few questions about her inspiration, process, and working in Procreate.

Janice Sung, as photographed by Melissa Sung.

Hi Janice! Firstly, can you tell us a little about your style of work?

My style of work has developed over several years and is constantly changing, but I've always strived to create "painterly" illustrations in most of my work, to imitate a watercolor like texture.

Lately I've been very fond of using pastel hues and rich colors that compliment each other. I also love incorporating organic forms like foliage and flowers with inorganic geometric forms to create an interesting visual contrast. All these elements complement the main subject of the painting, creating an overall feel of sultriness, sophistication, and modernism.

Would you cite any specific artists as having inspired your work?

Audrey Kawasaki has been one of my main inspirations growing up. She specializes in painting women on wood while beautifully highlighting the essence of feminine sensuality and mystery in her subjects. I really appreciate the unique style and identity that she has curated, and aspire to have such a compelling style of my own.

Do you have a way of refuelling when your creative energy is running low?

Instagram and Pinterest play a big part in my daily inspiration. Every morning before I get out of bed I check my feed to see what type of art other creatives (like fashion photographers and designers) are producing. Their unique style gives me a new perspective and motivates me to create new work.

Honey & Velvet, made in Procreate Pocket by Janice Sung.

Do you follow a specific process when creating each artwork?

My creative process changes all the time so I wouldn’t say there’s a set method to it. But I do often like to start with a colour palette and work my way around that so the whole piece looks cohesive in the end.

Would you say you have any specific strengths as an artist?

I think I set myself apart because of the way I use colour theory and geometry. I love to use pastel hues and muted tones in harmony and complement them with organic and inorganic forms. It's difficult to make still life look compelling, and I think these frameworks really help to make my content engaging.

Do you need something happening in the background while you paint, or do you prefer to work without distractions?

I like to keep things interesting because a painting could take hours, so recently I've been really enjoying listening to podcasts while I work. The topics range from education to comedy. It's a great way to learn and laugh while I'm working, without losing focus.

You were one of the first artists to ever use Procreate Pocket 2 - first impressions?

I absolutely love it! It's crazy to see how far the technology has come, I never would have thought I'd be able to produce such high quality paintings on my phone. Now I can paint even when I'm not at home or at my workstation!

What do you like about working in Procreate?

I think the biggest benefit of working in Procreate is definitely the immediacy of it. You can take it with you on vacation, to client meetings, or pretty much anywhere you would go with your phone. It's so versatile and easy to switch back to your staple drawing setup at home.

Any favourite brushes?

Yes, so many! A few of my favorites (and most commonly used) would be the HB Pencil, Soft Pastel, and Damp Brush. They're very versatile brushes and add great textures to my pieces.

Anything on your Procreate wish-list?

I can't wait for Procreate to introduce a device sync option! With such an intuitive interface it would be amazing to have the option to work on a painting on my phone and then pick up on another device, exactly where I left off.

Nectarine, made in Procreate Pocket by Janice Sung.

Are the characters you draw inspired by life, reference, imagination, or a combination?

I gain a lot of inspiration from models and fashion icons - which I enhance with digital elements, because I'm not limited by anything except my imagination. I love to portray my subjects in unique poses with sultry eyes and bold styles, so I would say I'm inspired by a combination of real life and imagination.

How long have you been freelancing for, and how are you finding it so far?

I've been a freelance illustrator for almost a year now and I feel like I've still got a lot to learn. However, it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I've always wanted to be my own boss, so I'm very thankful for the opportunity to practice my skill at my own pace. I'm still learning a lot about having my own business and how to manage my time and resources, but all in all I'm very optimistic about the future.

Do you have any advice for other freelancers starting out?

As a beginner in the world of freelance, one thing I can say for sure that has helped me on my journey is using social media platforms. I've worked with many great clients through Instagram and Behance, and most importantly it's a great way to stay motivated and inspired. I know it can be really hard sometimes but as long as you are putting in the work, the results will eventually show.

Your style has changed pretty substantially over the years. Was that a conscious change one day, or a gradual evolution?

Once I quit my full time job I had a strong urge to create a style I could call my own, one I could truly be proud of. It was a huge struggle, because ever since I became an artist, my artistic style was like a part of my identity. I want people to recognize my art no matter where they they find it, or whether I've signed the piece.

I think the drive to create a unique style and impact with my work was what drove me to explore several styles until one resonated with me. I had a lot of time to explore after I quit my job, and I utilised that time to develop an online presence (especially on Instagram). That presence required me to keep outputting work, which naturally made me experiment with different styles and techniques of painting.

I'd say the contemporary style I have now was only developed a few months ago. If you scroll far enough down my Instagram feed you can actually see when my style started to evolve. Overall, I am pretty content with my current style but very excited to see how it will grow and change in the future!

Janice Sung, as photographed by Melissa Sung.

For more of Janice's work, make sure to check out her Instagram page, or her website.

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