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SFi by Eepmon

Vita *

Name: Eric Chan aka Eepmon

Profession: Hybrid Artist / Programmer

Did you know?

That art and code share similar constructs?

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I started drawing back when I was a child, I think when I was 3 or 4. During those early days my interest in technology was already apparent. I was obsessed and fascinated with traffic lights, Transformers, and of course the classic 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. I would pick up my colouring pencils and draw all them constantly.

My teenage years however was quite different. I was unfocused and undisciplined. Although I attended a recognized school in the visual arts, I never seem to have fit quite well with my artist peers. They would paint scenic landscapes or foetuses to express their "shock" value - that was considered cool. Instead, I painted futuristic cities in Photoshop 3.0. While my peers creating a series of clay cups and bowls for a ceramic assignment, I made a series of clay robots. I really did not think my work was well received from anybody.

Upon graduation, I was more uncertain of my path and was still unfocused.

So instead like any artist graduating moving on to do a BFA or in some creative field, I decided to go 180 degrees and investigate my interest in technology. That is when I went to Algonquin College to take up Computer Science. Let me tell you it was tough. Coding was a foreign language, however I believe that my time spent there allowed me to refocus and discipline myself. All at the same time, I was creating my computer artworks on the side at home because the only person who would see them - was me anyway.

And then the remarkable happened.

On the final days of my first co-op term at a hi-tech company, I had the opportunity to meet the manager of a User Experience Design team. By chance, I showed her the work that I did at home and to my astonishment, she was so impressed that she immediately gave me a secure placement for my next co-op term.

It was then I realized that my belief in my art at the time was clouded by people's opinions and not my own. In fact, I was very disappointed with myself. How could I have attempted to abandon the very thing I truly am passionate about? I was not being true to myself. Whether people liked it or not does not matter. After Computer Science, I continued my study at Carleton University's Interactive Multimedia Design program and as an artist interested in technology, I heard of this design/technology conference called FITC that seemed related to my interests. I was completely blown away of how many like-minded individuals were attending this single event. People from all over the world world (such as Yugo Nakamura from tha ltd. in Tokyo who I deeply respect) gathering together to create a rich and diverse forum composed of artists, designers, technologists doing things that are unconventional and daring. That was it!

I created my handle: "eepmon" (stands for APEMAN because I was born in the year of the monkey) as a reminder to me that life is how you make of it. No one else will do it for you. There is no right way and wrong way of doing things. Inspired by the many talented speakers at the event I realized that the world has no time for triviality. The best work comes from those who stay the course and believe in what they are creating. No time for the haters or evil doers. I have a philosophy that if something is challenging then it must foster learning, growth and experience which are all good things.

There is no such thing as losing.

Today, I continue with this philosophy in everything that I do - personally and professionally.

Your previous interviewer, Fanny Khoo, had quoted Steve Jobs. So happens I have some more to add taken from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other peoples opinions drown out your own inner voice and most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become, everything else is secondary."

10 Works / projects

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3 questions

Biggest hurdle overcomed?

I realize that my ambitions is an invitation for uncertainty and risk. Because of my high expectations of myself, risk will sometimes get me asking if I will be able to walk on this path unscathed. I am a believer of quality over quantity but the reality is that you cannot always get what you want.

So I have come to terms and accept that risk is part of the artist path. It runs in our blood and we get that adrenaline for being on edge at times. At the same time though, it is what makes me feel real and alive.

Part of me feels like I'm a designer trapped in an artist state of mind. I have mostly worked alone and I am very particular in who I choose to collaborate with. This probably has consequences yes, but if it is not done with my own two hands, then I am nowhere satisfied with my accomplishments.

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Greatest moment?

My greatest moment was when I had found my inner voice on that cold Winter day of 2002. My goal now is pursue that voice to understand what it really means. Establishing eepmon in 2005 was the start of it all and till this day, I continue to unravel the layers of this unknown.

That probably explains why I am constantly changing, evolving, growing and never settling down.

The projects that I work on both personally and professionally I believe are the pieces of the puzzle that forges further into this unknown path.

Though I cannot pin point exactly what eepmon is or what eepmon is about, it does not matter. All that matters is that I am doing what I love to do now and I am perfectly happy in my current state.

The world is full of unknowns, lets see what happens and what adventures await in the years to come!

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What next?

Coming June (2011), I will be spending the summer (maybe longer) in New York City. Possible collaborations are in the works though I do not know what it will entail just yet. Mainly I am there to get inspiration, to learn, hopefully get an art show there and of course to meet like-minded highly focused individuals.

I may be in Tokyo end of Summer to do some catching up. On the Canadian front, I have been commissioned by DIGIFEST in Toronto to create a graphic video installation for the Sony Ziris™ Video Wall – a 21-screen HD video wall at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Expect to see this in the coming Fall. I am very interested in the fashion industry, so that has been on my mind too.

Recently I find myself becoming more concerned about the world we live in.

I feel that as artists, we have a moral obligation to help people who are in less favoured circumstances. How lucky we are to be living in a nation that is not in civil war, or not thinking about if the next bomb shelling will fall on your house. If I am so fortunate to have such a skill to create things, wouldn't it be amazing if you can use it to help people?

These days I have been contemplating on how to leverage my skills to contribute towards helping the world. Even if its small contribution, at least I am doing something useful.

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