Illustration West 58, Another Judges’ Inverview: Tiffanie Mang by Co-Show Chairs Chuck and Wendy Grieb
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself or how you got started?
I majored in Animation and Digital Arts at the University of Southern California. It was there that I developed my love for illustration and visual development. After graduating college, my ﬁrst job was working as a concept artist for an indie game that was being funded by start up company. Unfortunately, after a year and half, things turned south, and we lost the funding. In 2016, while working as a PA at a production company called Psyop in Santa Monica, I applied to be an animator on the ﬁlm Loving Vincent created by Breakthru Films. At that time, they had blasted a call for international artists to join their animation team of working on the world’s ﬁrst fully hand painted feature ﬁlm in oils about van Gogh. Little did I know that this experience would change my life. After receiving an email that they liked my portfolio and would like to invite me to ﬂy to Poland to take a three day test, I subsequently made the spontaneous decision to drop everything in LA and ﬂy to Poland, where the production was happening. To my delight and relief, I passed the animation test, and went on to complete two and half weeks of training before ofﬁcially joining as an animator for 6 months! During those months, I animated on 6 shots; It was the hardest and best experience of my life, challenging me in all ways artistically and mentally. Because of working on this ﬁlm and being surrounded by so many talented international artists, I was inspired to pursue my ﬁne art career even more after coming back to the states. In 2018, I moved back to San Diego to rent a studio with my best friend whom I also met while working on the ﬁlm. Now I am so happy that I ﬁnally have space to create oil paintings of landscapes that have been brewing in my head for so long.
Who or what inspires you?
Color and light inspires me ﬁrst and foremost. Sometimes even the way something is lit will be enough for me to create story and painting around that initial inspiration. I have always been fascinated with the way light reveals forms to create the most profound collaboration of shapes and color that we see in landscapes all around us but often do not take the time to soak in and admire. In my plein air studies, I love to capture those stories I ﬁnd in the shifting color and light through unique color palettes and bold brushstrokes. My goal is not to reiterate what I see onto a canvas; I seek to capture the energy and essence-the ﬂeeting impression- that the landscape embedded in me when I ﬁrst laid eyes on the sight. I could go on about who inspires me, as those are constantly changing. My all time favorite artists are Claude Monet, Edgar Payne, Edward Seago, and William Ritschel at the moment because those are all artists who when I see their artwork, I can see the metal battle and passion evident in the painting- the canvas was their battleﬁeld and love letter. They are not afraid to put bold brushstrokes down; they did not hold back but truly poured themselves onto the surface I believe.
What are some favorite projects that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?
I would deﬁnitely consider working on Loving Vincent the biggest and most memorable project I have ever worked on. For one, I was living in another country, which was very exciting because I got to explore Polish culture and interact with so many people from different countries. The project itself of animating a feature ﬁlm entirely in oils was daunting, but at the same time, I felt right at home as I was allowed to combine my two passions of painting traditionally and animating at the same time. I grew to develop such an immense admiration and appreciation for Van Gogh and his work while working on this ﬁlm, and his determination and thirst of never stopping to paint everyday continues to be an inspiration to me today. I don’t necessarily paint like him, but I have learned from his unique color palette choices in his landscape pieces that I sometimes try and apply to my paintings as well.
What advice do you have for illustrators, beginning and pro?
My main advice is to always have that hunger to improve. Never settle, but also don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach the level that you want right away. Art is truly a life long journey so embrace it if you commit. That is how you will grow faster and faster. Discipline is key, and don’t be afraid to fall and make mistakes because you learn twice as fast from a struggle you overcame. Don’t expect skill to morph itself. You must put in the work. Don’t just paint- be educated and read books of artists you admire and study their artwork actively; research their life and how they overcame their struggles. I personally enjoy reading and learning about other artists’ lives and how they grew and developed as an artist. Also, always take the chance to see an exhibition you are interested in at a museum if you can. Nothing will ever beat the experience of seeing a masterpiece in person. In the end, passion for what you do is most important above anything else, including money. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing or the company you are working at, what’s the point?
What do you love about your job and what do you find challenging about your profession?
I love that I work for myself and not for anyone else. Of course as a fine artist now, finding freelance jobs
and having that steady flow of money is the most challenging part versus working in a studio and
receiving a paycheck every month.
As you look to the future, what are you excited to explore, create, etc.?
I am excited to travel and see so many different landscapes and sites that will inspire me to create more paintings both in gouache and oil. I personally love Europe, and I will be moving there later this year. I am really looking forward to this move as a new chapter in my life of being able to be influenced by eastern European landscapes and masters. I look at each opportunity as a chance to expand my horizons, test my boundaries, and challenge my self into experimenting with new artistic realms.
What is your favorite medium to work in? Why?
I love working in gouache and oil. I cannot choose between the two because both have their merits to me. I plein air paint in gouache because the medium is so easy to carry around, and I paint very thick and impasto. Gouache layers beautifully, and I can get beautiful color variations in one stroke that I wouldn’t be able to do as well in watercolor, for example. I also work in oils in the studio for bigger paintings because I love how the medium doesn’t dry and you can move paint around for more extended periods of time.