‘Art Insights’ features Poe Tan on how to create your artistic brand

Artist Poe Tan will be speaking at the Southern Utah Museum of Art Thursday. Undated. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Concept artist and instructor Poe Tan will be presenting at the Southern Utah Museum of Art Thursday at 7 p.m. as part of the Southern Utah University Art and Design Department’s “Art Insights” series.

Tan will discuss how to make a career in art, prepare a portfolio for review, create intellectual properties and brand oneself on the world wide web. He will also define what it means to be visiual development and concept artists, including how the positions work and the pipeline of responsibilities.

Art Insights is a offered free to the public.

A painting by artist Poe Tan, who will be speaking at the Southern Utah Museum of Art Thursday. Undated. | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George New

As a young man growing up in Malaysia, Tan had the privilege of being exposed to a variety of entertainment mediums: American movies, Disney cartoons, British comics and literature and to Japanese manga and anime.

“One key moment in defining my decision to be an artist was watching ‘Star Wars’ in the theater in 1976,” Tan said. “As I saw the opening of the movie with the rebel blockade cruiser being chased by the imperial star destroyer flying onto the screen, that made a huge impression on me as a 6-year-old. From there I started drawing and pursuing my goals to be a designer in animation and in the entertainment industry.”

Tan received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Master of Fine Arts in illustration and concept art from the Academy of Art University. He has worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios, Warner Brothers Animation, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Fox Animation, Sony and many others.

“I believe my education gave me a structural discipline to get ready for the real world,” he said, “to understand and prepare for what is expected for real world scenarios.”

The inspiration for Tan’s art comes from many sources. He gathers ideas from great painters and artists like Leonardo da Vinci, J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth and Jean Leon Gerome, as well as comic books and graphic novels artists such as Moebius, Cam Kennedy and Mike Mignola. Postmodern and craftsman architecture, movies and industrial auto design for off-road and military vehicles are also sources of inspiration for his work.

Tan was told by his animation director in his second job: “You are only as good as your last drawing.” This quote is something he will never forget, he said. As an artist and designer, one needs to continue to grow in their skills with technology and skill advancement if they want to be the best artist they can be.

His personal artistic style has been described as solid realism mixed with Hayao Miyazaki’s style of organic design. Tan’s artistic talent has allowed him to create in a variety of production styles for shows like Johnny Bravo and Rugrats and the movie Ben 10.

“The most fulfilling part of being an artist,” Tan said, “is that my designs are used and seen in animated shows and games. I enjoy it when my friends across the globe tell me they have seen my work and enjoyed the designs. I am currently working on a project that I hope will ensure my students and many others around the world can enjoy once it’s launched.”

Event details

  • What: Art Insights with Poe Tan
  • When: Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Southern Utah Museum of Art, 13 South 300 West, Cedar City.
  • Cost: Free public event.

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