Interview:Longque Chen&Ji Zhu-Artists from China shine on Artstation thanks to the boom in the gaming industry.
In Apr of 2023,Ji Zhu,Brand manager of Mecrob Team,decided to interview famous concept artist, Longque Chen,a concept artist who specializes in sci-fi vehicle, machine, and mech designs.
In this interview, we discussed Longque's distinctive style of combining biology, nature, and machinery in his artwork, his methods for achieving realistic details, and his creative process. Longque also shared his experiences studying at different schools in China and the US, and gave his views on how art is taught differently in these countries
Ji:Your work blends many elements such as biology, nature, and machinery. They not only have the mechanical beauty of science fiction in the future world, but also carry humanistic care for real society. How did you come up with the idea to make such an attempt and fusion?
Longque:As an experienced concept designer, I have done so many military concept design, like space ship, vehicle, and robotic mech. I always want to try something new, not just for military purpose. so nature stuffs can be good inspiration for developing daily equipment. As you can see, most of my works are bio-industry designs, its so much fun to develop mech based on creature.
Ji:In your works, there are realistic details everywhere, such as the cockpit of the "Goldfish" submarine, the claws of the "Lizard," and the launching anchor. How do you achieve these details?
Longque:I studied product design in CAFA（中央美院）from 2006 to 2010, so for me, I think the function is the most critical part. I spent million of hours for studying machine principles, how things works, and how form follow function. Like the example you added here, the “Lizard” climbing machine, most challenge part is figuring out how mechanical arm works that enable whole thing move on cliff surface like a real lizard. Obviously, arms and legs are not enough for holding the heavy body, I borrowed the concept of rope system for rock climbing then developed the launchable anchor system on head part. I think it looks much better overall.
Ji:Could you describe your creative process for a piece of artwork?
Longque:First step is always fast random drawing, no any specific purpose, step two is pick one or two interested ideas from rough sketches, then develop more variations. Third step, pick a most fun option, figure out structure design then start to do the final detailed drawing. Step four is rendering and adding background.
Ji:Out of all the works you have done, which ones are you most satisfied with, and why?
Longque: This is really hard to say which ones I like the most, my answer is always the next one.
Ji: I saw many excellent artists on Artstation, especially in the concept design area. Many of them are from China. What do you think is the specific reason?
Longque: It's not surprising. The game industry has been growing rapidly in China in recent years, and many game studios have been built. Of course, there are so many great artists working for these studios. Besides, more and more students are studying abroad in the US. They have learned a lot from the top game industry and are now part of it.
Ji: You have studied at XAFA and CAFA in China, and then went to ACCD in the US for further studies. Could you briefly introduce your experiences there? What do you think of the cultivation of art in Chinese and American schools?
Longque: I wanted to be a game concept artist when I graduated from CAFA as a PD student around 2010. It's never too late to start moving forward on the right path. After that, I spent years studying English and building application materials, and finally came to ACCD in 2014.
Comparing Chinese and American art schools is a big question. I think the industries in these two countries are totally different. The entertainment industry in the US is really developed and strong, and everyone is well-educated and experienced. The industry is always the best place for gaining experience for intern students. But as you know, the game and film industries in China are still in the early stages. Students graduated from Chinese art schools are ready for the Chinese industry but are still far away from the top level in the US.
Ji:I have seen many of your works being copied by the brand "An Yuan" How do you feel about this, and have you considered pursuing legal action to protect your rights?
Longque:Of course this is a terrible story, and I am not surprised this happened in China, its very normal. I just told them stop selling this toy and they followed. I think their attitude is right, they fixed this as soon as possible.
Ji: How do you view the impact of future technology on humanity, such as the recently popular Chat GPT, where people can automatically generate an artwork by simply inputting text? Do you think this will pose a threat to artists?
Longque: I cannot predict how it will change people's lives. As a professional game artist, I do not think these AI-generated art pieces are useful for now. Although they look amazing, they are still far from a usable level. Maybe they will replace some very basic positions in game art, but we will see.
Ji: Many of our readers are members of the cyberpunk community. How do you understand cyberpunk? Has it influenced you in any way?
Longque: I wasn't a crazy fan of cyberpunk until the release of the game 2077, which perfectly matched the concept of cyberpunk - a high-tech, maximalist, low-design look. As you can see from my works, I barely create this style, but I will keep trying it in the future. It's always a lot of fun to create cyberpunk stuff.
Ji:Our Cyberpunk spider lamp takes inspiration from Alexander Trufanov, Concept artist on Artstation and Clarkesworld magazine, and we use the art of remaking to turn it into an Assembled toy. What do you think about this combination?Is it possible for us to collaborate with you?
Longque: I really like his art, and it's great to see you guys are working together. I think the core concept of your product is to match his work's style, not to copy all the details from his art. The same thing happened here; it's hard to bring enough details from my works into your product, such as small cockpit, weapon system, or something like a door and hatch. But maybe we can try to build some ideas in the future.
Ji: Do you have any favorite artists or artworks within the industry? Could you recommend some?
Longque: I have so many favorite concept artists such as Arron Beck, Scott Robertson, Syd Mead, George Hull, Brain Sum, and many others. Most of them are hard surface artists.
Ji: Do you have any ongoing or upcoming projects? Could you introduce them to our readers?
Longque: I keep doing sketches weekly without any specific plan for them. I just keep it up forever, which means I will upgrade my Instagram and Artstation accounts randomly.
Longque Chen, born in 1988, is a concept designer who designs concept scenes, machinery, and characters for clients.
2015~Present Freelance job for designing mech, prop, and Vehicle
2015 04~2015 08 Leader concept designer for Chinese sci-fi film (TIME PURSUER)
2017 09~ 2017 12 Leader concept designer in MAGNOPUS ENTERTAINMENT
2017~Present Concept designer for the pandamony toys
2017~2018 Concept designer for the game: Ashes of Mankind from BLACK ICE studio
2018 06 Artworks were collected by Sketching from the Imagination: Creatures & Monsters
*2018 06 I was invited by Scholastic Children's Books UK to be part of a team for the project: Mortal Engines.
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