Featuring Yong Yi Lee
OWING HIS SOURCES of inspiration to action-filled game, The Last of Us and sci-fi thriller film, District 9, Yong Yi proudly admitted that the ‘Concept Art Seed’ was planted in him. Sci-fi film and gaming enthusiasts would agree with a resounding yes on how Concept Art has intrigued them to venture into a fictional world of heavy action and visual effects.
Yong Yi is a concept artist based in Singapore. Having attained a Diploma in Digital Media Design and Entertainment Design, he emphasized that the role of digital technology is salient in communicating his designs effectively. There lies a stark difference between fine artists and conceptual artists. “Though it might sound blasphemous to some true blood artist, digital technology allows me to make use of photos to manipulate and illustrate what I need,” highlighted Yong Yi.
In contrast with illustrations or general art forms, Yong Yi best described Concept Art in a phrase: “The final art piece may not be the end product." To those who have yet to explore the grounds of Concept Art, this idea may seem strange, yet refreshing. Nonetheless, what remains enthralling about Concept Art is that it is a process, “a pipeline always waiting for the piece to come along and then it is translated into something else,” explained Yong Yi.
From conceiving an idea till the fruition of the illustration, the process of Concept Art is no different from the creative journey involved in pursuing other art forms. An artist goes through the painstaking process of sourcing for inspiration, followed by conceptualization, then further refinement of the subject matter. However, Concept Art injects its focus in the storyline and the fictional character modelled after a devised setting. A character designed in Concept Art would undergo the process of “modelling, rigging and animation” before being officially produced. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that the preliminary stages of creation are critical, as any character designed could be further developed or discarded.
It focuses on the Design of things rather than the Art itself
Being a bibliophile at heart, Yong Yi recognized the importance of creative thinking, which aids in his conceptualization of characters. He warmly introduced Herman, a character he created “in the near-future world of cyberpunk.” In this scenario, Herman is a professional hacker that was relegated to the life of a nomad due to past sabotages. Focusing on “high tech and low life,” Herman is a divine sage with invaluable skills and knowledge. He cannot be located due to his colossal travelling routes.
Generating characters like Herman is not an easy task. Yong Yi would often mull over controversial topics of mankind and ecology in order to gain inspiration for his characters. Before creating his characters, he asks hypo ethical questions such as "what if a caterpillar is genetically mixed with a man?” or "what if we find a habitable planet tomorrow?”.
After all, the fictional world of Concept Art may just be a reflection of reality. Mankind continues to grapple with the value of existence, and share the same unprecedented fate as every human life.