Over the years, I've gotten lots of emails asking me similar questions, so I've put together a FAQ section to answer them. Please check the FAQ section first before emailing me.
You can reach me at: caprimouse (at) hotmail (dot) com and lunachild_sf (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Do you accept paid commissions?
It depends on the project and my schedule, so I won't know until you give me the details about your project. I do commissioned work for both high profile clients (large companies that can pay a lot) to smaller personal commissions (individuals with a more modest budget). My fee is flexible, depending on the complexity and the time constraint of the project. I try to avoid projects with profit-sharing only arrangements since they usually don't work out. There are exceptions though (please read below).
Would you like to collaborate/help out with my non-profit project?
Currently I'm mostly interested in writing/directing and composing/sound design. For art I'm currently only interested in paid projects (unless it's something incredibly compelling--read below for more).
I don't usually have free time, as I'm the kind of person that keeps very busy with both professional and personal projects. If you feel your project is something I would find incredibly compelling, then contact me with the details and we'll talk. Keep in mind that I'm a creator, writer, director, art director, composer/sound designer, and photographer, and that means I have tons of personal projects I could be working on instead of your project. In order for me to feel compelled to spend time on your project, it would have to impress me so much that I'd actually pick yours over my own, and I happen to be very passionate about my own projects--in fact, I had quit my full-time job so I could have more time to work on my personal projects. If it's a collaboration, then we would need to talk about it in detail, but I tend to only be interested in collaborations where I have a fair say in the style/direction, as opposed to being just a helping hand (who is not paid). If it's a team project (such as a game MOD or animated short film), my preference is to be involved mainly as a writer/director or composer/sound designer, and less likely as an art director or artist (unless it's a dream project that I'd love to work on).
Can I have permission to use your artwork for signature tag, banner, RPG portraits..etc?
You don't have to email me to ask for permission ( I get way too many emails about this already), as long as you comply with the following:
1) You credit the source and provide a link back to me when possible.
2) The only changes you make to my artwork is resizing and cropping to fit your needs. Any type of editing that changes the appearance of my work is not ok.
3) It's for something non-profit.
You do a lot of different things--what exactly is your job?
I have worked professionally in various creative fields, and my career path seems to shift from one phase to another. I started out as a freelance creator/writer/artist in comic books, then worked as a songwriter/musician, then as an artist in the video game industry, then as writer/director/art director in CG animation/TV commercials. When I'm not working full-time for a studio, I'm either freelancing for various clients or working on my own personal projects, and it can be anything--from writing, photography, music, illustration, to design. I also do a fair amount of teaching as well.
Will I ever settle on one career path? I have no idea. I really enjoy doing different things, so it's very hard for me to stick to just one. If I have to narrow it down, I would say that music, writing, and directing are my favorites, even though art is the most commercially viable in my career thus far. Ultimately, storytelling (in all of its various forms) is the closest to my heart.
What projects are you currently working on?
The News & Weblog section of the website is usually up-to-date on my current projects (if you look in the "Latest Works" "News" or "Site News" categories).
My main creative focus in the last few years has been writing novels. It is emotionally and intellectually the most fulfilling to me at this point in my life. My passion for music, visual art, and filmmaking have taken a back-seat to my fiction writing. I don't know how long writing will be my main focus, since I've gone through different phases in my life in the past, but for now, it's looking like fiction writing will remain my main creative outlet for a long time to come. I still shoot a lot of photography, but it's just for personal enjoyment and not for professional work.
Are you self-taught in everything you do?
Yes I am. Other than the required classes in high school (elective classes), I tried to take art, film, and music classes when I was in college, but I never stuck with them since my own personal and professional works always took over shortly. Some personality types learn more efficiently in a classroom environment, and some learn better on their own with books, DVD's, online resources, trial and error...etc--I belong to the latter.
What camera, lenses, and lights do you use for your photography?
I'm currently shooting with the Sony Alpha 7R II and Olympus OM-D E-M1.
When I first got into photography in 2001, I started with an Olympus C3030Z (consumer compact point & shoot), and when I upgraded to the Canon 1D Mark II (professional DSLAR) in 2004, the C3030Z was handed down to Elena. In 2012 I upgraded to the 5D Mark III, and in 2014 I added the Olympus E-M1 (micro four-thirds system) as a light-weight/small camera system that's still capable of high performance and image quality, so I don't have to lug a large and heavy DSLR camera system around while traveling. In 2015, I sold all of my Canon gear and switched to the Sony Alpha 7R II (mirrorless full-frame).
Elena retired the C3030Z when she upgraded to a Fujifilm F10, and then upgraded again to the F30, and now the Panasonic Lumix LX5, which is a great compact point and shoot compact camera (though it's considered very old at this point, since digital camera technology moves so fast). Sometimes we use our smartphones (I have the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and Elena's still using the iphone 4), but that's only if we don't have our cameras with us. The photos taken by these compact/smartphone cameras can sometimes be quite good (if you understand their limitations and use them to their strengths).
My lenses are listed here: http://www.dpreview.com/members/7433265839/gearlist
For lighting, I have a complete photography strobe lights setup with a few different strobes, soft boxes, reflectors, brollies, snoots, honeycomb grids--the whole works. But these days I tend to keep it very simple and just use portable battery-powered LED constant lights and a diffuser/reflector.
For hotshoe flash, I have a Canon Speedlite 580EX. I also use various flash bouncer/diffusers (Gary Fong's Lightsphere, Demb's Flip-it, and Dana Ng's Wing Light). I only use fill-flash and never direct flash, since fill-flash is much more natural and pleasing.
Do you sell prints of your work?
Yes I do, and you can find them here.
If you don't see prints of an image you want, you can request that I make the print of it available by emailing me.
How do you make your paintings?
I use both traditional (oils, watercolor, acrylics, patel..etc) and digital tools (Photoshop, Painter..etc). I only started using digital tools around 98', while I've been using traditional tools all my life. I have no preference in the tools--they all have strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to use them accordingly. But I do love oil painting more than anything else though--it's the most satisfying medium for me. (EDIT: At this point, I'm all digital and no longer use traditional tools. I still love traditional tools and prefer them in terms of tactile expressiveness, but I don't have room for a tradtional setup in my studio currently.)
No, I meant HOW do you paint? What are your steps?
I have written tutorials. See them here.
What resolution do you work at?
I've settled at 300 dpi, and roughly 8.5 x 11 inches (not always that aspect ratio, but that's a typical one since it fits on a legal document page) for all my personal works. If there's a need for printing at very large size (for clients, ads, big posters), I might go as big as double or triple that size. My dual monitors are 24", and set to 1920x1200 desktop resolution each.
What kind of tablet do you use?
I use a 6x8 Wacom Intuos 2. It's the perfect size for me--easy to store, and sits on my lap comfortably.
Do you use references for your artwork?
Yes and no. For portrait type works, you have to either use a photo or a life model, or else it's impossible to capture the likeness. For imaginative works (sci-fi/fantasy), I sometimes do and sometimes don't. I'm not a fan of copying references like a human copy machine, so when I do use references, I often would only have the pose as a starting point, but all the details would change, including proportions, likeness, lighting, colors, and the pose itself. Most of my illustrations are from stories I've written, so I prefer to shoot my own references, as I can control the lighting, direct the models, pick the camera angle..etc. So instead of going through lots of photos that other people shot and trying to find something that I like, I have visual stories I want to tell in my head already that I'll sketch out first, and then shoot my own references according to my needs.
Can you tell me how to become a better artist, or use the tools more efficiently?
Art Techniques and Theories forum at cgtalk - I started this forum at cgtalk.com to help artists with questions and to discuss topics of interest to artists who are looking to learn to improve. I have created very helpful and comprehensive sticky threads at the top of the forum to answer questions exactly like this one.
Becoming a Better Artist - Critical Knowledge and Techniques For Today's Artists - This is an online workshop I spent over a year and a half creating, and It's an intense eight-week course that covers the most important things I have ever learned as an artist to date. It is suitable for both novice and advanced artists, and contains some topics that are rarely discussed or taught elsewhere.
Books I recommend to artists of any level:
Alla Prima: Everything I know About Painting - By Richard Schmid
Timeless Techniques for Better Oil Paintings - By Tom Browning
Harley Brown's eternal truths for every artist - By Harley Brown & Lewis Barrett Lehrman
Problem Solving For Oil Paintings - By Gregg Kreutz
Drawing the Head and Figure - By Jack Hamm
The Artist's Complete Guid to Facial Expressions - By Gary Faigin
Drawing People - By Barbara Bradley
Atlas of Foreshortening - By John Cody and Ron Tribell
Any of the books by Andrew Loomis - Some of these books used to cost a fortune since they were out of print for decades, but are now back in print. Loomis is considered one of the greatest teachers in illustration history, and his books are gems of knowledge. If you are serious about being an artist, you really should read his books from cover to cover.
These books will help you tremendously, regardless of what you think the contents are from the title. You will gain incredible amount of knowledge from them that could be applied to any form of visual art. Just because one of them might have the phrase "oil painting" in the title does not mean you only need it if you painted in oils. All these books contain very precious knowledge that applies to any medium or style.
To use your tools more efficiently, I can only say this: practice practice practice. If your tools are traditional, there are entire libraries of art instruction books in publication. If your tools are digital, there are not only books, but lots of online tutorials, not to mention the owner's manual that came with your software.
What published works have you done?
My resume is here. Published works, appearances, and interviews are here.
Your favorite artists/musicians/films/books..etc etc?
You can find out about my influences here.
Whatever happened to Promise, your CG short film?
I had gotten overwhelming amount of emails and forum messages about volunteering for my film ever since I announced it, and I was totally floored by the great responses, and also grateful. I had spent most of 2002 and 2003 working on Promise, and in September 2003, Steven Stahlberg invited me to go work with him at his company Optidigit/Android Blues. After visiting him in Malaysia, I said yes to his offer, and was a creator, writer, director, and art director there. My short film Promise was supposed to continue its production at Optidigit, however, Promise is currently on hold due to lack of funding. It is not a modest short film like many others out there--it was meant to be ambitious and epic in scale and quality--something that requires a full studio and a healthy budget. For now, there's no funding available for the film, so I'm doing other things I love in the meantime--like composing music, shooting photography, writing screenplays/novels..etc. Maybe one day the project will see the light of day. Maybe it'll forever remain my unreachable goal. No matter what, I won't stop creating--I'm always working on one thing or another. (Update: Promise is currently being written as a novel.)
Where do you live these days? You seem to move around a lot.
Yes, I do move around a lot, but I don't do it on purpose--I hate moving with a passion. I was born in Taiwan moved to the U.S. (Bay Area, California) when I was ten. I've also lived in Malaysia and China, and now am back in California.
Will you compose music for my film or game? How about using your music for my project?
Feel free to use my music for your project if it's not for commercial purposes--just credit me by name and URL, and contact me to let me know about it (unless the track(s) are ones I did for a client. In cases like that, it'll be specified in the track description). If your project is for commercial purposes, then we can negotiate a fee for the use of my music. If you want to hire me as the composer for your project, then that's something we'll have to discuss in detail.
I've read the writings available on your website. Can I read more of your writings?
Most of what I write are not ready to be read, as most are unfinished. I'd rather finish the ongoing novels/screenplays and have them meet the public in their intended form. I can't tell you when that'll be, because I don't know either.
Would you be interested in:
Critiquing my work?
I don't mind critiquing someone's portfolio, and when I do, I won't beat around the bush. I give concise, to the point, honest critiques, and if you can't handle constructive criticism without the sugar-coating, then you're better off asking someone else. I do ask that you are above the novice level if you want a critique, because it's too hard to critique a beginner artist, since everything they do is wrong and needs to practice a lot more before anyone could give any helpful advice. For beginners, I would say that the instructional books I listed will help you more than any critique. Posting your work in various online art forums is also a great way to get critique.
Contributing to my online gallery?
I'm always interested in contributing to online galleries, but I do have a preference for ones that are somewhat established and of a decent size. Just provide me the info I need, but I do prefer to have to do as little work as possible. Most of the time, people just ask for my permission to use the images already on my website and they'd create a gallery section for me.
Linking with my website?
I have no problem with people linking me, but I don't "trade links" since it feels more like an obligation than something I'd recommend to others.
Send me a high resolution file of one of your paintings?
In the past, I would've gladly said yes, but now, I usually say no unless I know you. I've seen one too many artworks used for commercial purposes without the original creator's permission.