The Tokusatsu Network met Cindy Duong at this past Designer Con in Pasadena, California. Designer Con is an annual art and design convention featuring collectible toys and urban pop art.
Cindy Duong is a web developer, graphic designer, and aspiring game artist. Her work can be found at her website at www.sakuradragon.net, where visitors can also purchase apparel, postcards, and adorable mini-dinosaur keychains.
Where did you find your passion for art?
I don’t think this is something I ‘found’. I’ve always loved to draw since I was very young. I was the kid in school that loved journal time because I could draw but would regularly get in trouble because I could not spell. However, I do need to give credit to my older siblings who were into drawing and anime, since they definitely encouraged and influenced my art.
We really love your miniature Dino pieces, namely because it reminds us of little kaiju. How did the design came to be and will you have more Dino designs down the line?
Thanks! The dino is really near and dear to me so it makes me really happy when other people like it, too.
The dino is a deviation of my mascot dragon whose design originated from the concept of having something fat and angry terrorizing the city the same way Kaiju does.
I’m a big foodie really huge fan of boba–I used to work at Tapioca Express in college and sometimes would go out of milk tea twice a day. Naturally this translated into the creation of my dragon that eating boba. Unfortunately, I had to omit his wings because it would add a color to the t-shirt printing and increase the production cost of the shirt.
There are more dinos planned with an overarching theme of traveling the world and eat things. The boba dino is from Taiwan. I also have a dino from France eating macaroons and a dino from Japan eating a riceball. I’ll definitely be producing more dinos eating my favorite foods.
Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with?
For more graphic type work, I really like Photoshop and digital mediums because they allow for an infinite amount of undoing. People tell me all the time that I should be using Illustrator for the type work I do, but I grew up using Photoshop and vector art requires a way of thinking that I’m not good at.
Can you walk us through when creating a piece, like your key chains?
Whenever I have a new piece, I always sit down with my sketchbook and first think about my medium. Usually, I don’t actually draw anything until I get that ‘ah-ha’ moment and come up with a creative way to use it. With the boba key chains which were printed on clear acrylic, wanted to take advantage of the fact that I could have transparent parts and semi-transparent ink in other parts.
From there, it was easy to decide that I could have a cup shape with the drink color. After those decisions are made, I go through many variations of the artwork, set up the file to send to be printed, and buy all the keychain parts. When everything comes in the mail, I lock myself away for the weekend and spend many hours assembling everything and keep myself entertained by watching anime.
Do you have a favorite artist who- or show that inspires your work?
I absolutely adore Elda The, the artist behind Thousand Skies. I really love her use of color and her kid friendly illustration style. To top it all off, she’s one of the sweetest people ever.
Anime’s that have influenced my style include Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
What would be the best advice you can give aspiring artists?
Two things I always try to remind myself and others:
1) Set aside time to do things you want to do, even if you think you’re not good enough. You really just have to just start doing it because you will never improve unless you are messing up first.
2) Don’t strive for perfection. It’s always good to stay positive and reward yourself for successful baby steps. I think it feels better to have 5 okay drawings that you spent 20 minutes each on than 1 drawing that you spent 2 hours on and really hate. At least with the 5 drawings, you’re making some progress.