Welcome to our Little Artist Series, a little blog where we take a deeper dive into the art and artists we love dearly.
First up: San Diego based artist, Philip Tseng!
Philip and Jason met through a mutual friend at San Diego Comic Con a million years ago. Since then, they’ve kept in touch and even participated in the same art exhibits in pop art galleries in Los Angeles, CA. Philip has the ability to turn any object into something cute and huggable. It’s a skill for which he makes appear effortless. Around the time we met, Philip was an active member of the Threadless community. A community which a lot of artists, like Philip, built a following and a portfolio of work which could be found on t-shirts, art prints, phone cases and now pins!
Phil, (I don’t think I’ve ever actually called you Philip, unless I say your entire name) you were one of the first people for whom we’ve collaborated! Thank you for trusting us to turn your 2D illustrations into 3D pins. When we first had the idea of doing artist collaboration pins, we immediately knew that your artwork was something we wanted to wear. So we thank you for being an awesome artist, collaborator and overall cool dude. That being said, let’s get to it!
LSoP: For those who are being introduced to you for the first time, can you give a little background on you?
Phil: Yeah, when you call me Philip, I feel like I’m in trouble. Everyone calls me Phil. It’s easier. Thanks for asking me to do collaborations with you guys. It’s been cool to see my designs as pins.
So, my name is Phil and I’m an illustrator here in sunny San Diego, CA. I’ve been an illustrator for over 16 years. I like to draw silly pictures of food and put faces on them and make them do punny things. When I’m not doing that, I’m an UI (User Interface) Artist for a mobile game studio. And I have a dog named Oreo. She’s more popular than me.
LSoP: Walk us through your process. How do you come up with these silly images? In a dream? On a walk with your dog, Oreo?
Phil: I get inspired by random things throughout the day. Something weird someone said or a slice of pepperoni pizza. I’ll doodle the idea on paper and work on it later on the computer. I did once have an epic dream and woke up in the middle of the night to sketch it.
LSoP: We’re huge fans of you, your work and your dog, Oreo. Are there artists out there who inspire you, both artistically and creatively?
Phil: Aww thanks. I’m a fan of yours too. I follow a bunch of artists on Instagram and I’m always blown away (and secretly jealous) by their art and creativity. There’s my friend Alex Solis (@alexmdc), Andrew Kolb (@kolbisneat), Chris Lee (@thebeastisback), Dan Hipp (@danhipp), Heikala (@heikala), Matt Kaufenberg (@mattkaufenberg), and David DePasquale (@davidadepasquale) just to name a few.
LSoP: TGIF (I <3 Fridays Killer Cutie) was the pin that sparked the Killer Cuties Series. You have the ability to make the most horrific killers adorable and cuddly. If you were trapped in a house with one of the killer cuties, who would it be?
Phil: Hm, I think I would pick Freddy (because he’s so “dreamy”) to be trapped together in a house. We would watch a movie on Netflix and fall asleep midway through on the couch.
LSoP: Now that we’re spending an abnormal amount of time indoors, do you find it easier or more difficult to stay creative?
Phil: It’s been a rollercoaster ride. I’ll have a period where I’m struggling to think of something creative and everything is blah. Then the next week, I’m totally inspired by something I watched on TV and I’m doodling on my iPad while I’m supposed to be paying attention in a video conference call for work.
LSoP: What’s going on around you while you create? Do you listen to music? Put on a movie or tv show? What are you viewing/listening to these days?
Phil: I usually have Spotify playing or have the TV playing in the background. The Food Network or HGTV are my go to channels when I’m working. I can’t put on a movie. I’ll just end up watching it instead of working. Oreo is usually napping next to me or running around with her treat ball.
LSoP: What’s next? Is there anything lined up for you in the near future? What’s your dream project?
Phil: I have a project that I’m waiting to hear back from, so fingers crossed. Maybe some pin collabs? Otherwise, it’s a pretty chill summer. Dream project would be doing something with Disney, Target, or toys. It would be neat to make toys from my characters.
LSoP: Hopefully one day we’ll be able to work together on a dream project! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us and let us pick your brain (mmm….brains). We look forward to checking out your Instagram for more photos of Oreo...and other awesome artwork you create!