One of the new wave of Chinese artists surfacing in the West, KD Stanton arrives with a prodigious talent seemingly fully formed, says Ed Ricketts
The prodigious talent is one of the new wave of Chinese artists surfacing in the West.
When I started out in the industry, being good at brainstorming ideas, communicating and being able to learn were my ‘ big breaks’,” says rising artist KD Stanton. “As an industry novice, the things I lacked most were work experience, confidence and the mental capacity to deal with difficulties. Being good at communication and selflearning helped me avoid taking a lot of wrong turns. Being good at coming up with ideas helped me get better at solving problems in a short space of time, and also improved my confidence, which gave me the determination to overcome challenges.”
This modest appraisal belies KD’s astonishing body of work, which is now beginning to attract Western audiences and clients outside of his native China. (And if you thought KD Stanton doesn’t sound very Chinese, you’d be right – his real name is Feng Weirui.) KD’s images are wonderfully kinetic, matching up dynamic composition and incredible lighting with pure mastery of technique. His action shots in particular often look like frames from a film.
It’s a technique KD has deliberately cultivated. “I’ll create one or more simple compositions in advance, based on the different requirements and expressing what I want in terms of content,” he explains in Mandarin. “But this method doesn’t always work, because sometimes a certain requirement will call for an unexpected camera position, which tests my skills.”
This, of course, is more likely to happen with a client brief that specifies a
particular composition. “That’s why the basics are more and more important [to me],” he adds. “Knowing how to unite control, expression and the painting is the only way to succeed – because regardless of whether you choose the camera position by yourself or it’s set for you, in the end you still need to draw the painting.”
Those drawings generally begin on the computer rather than as paper sketches, though he says he doesn’t really have a set routine when working on a piece – instead adapting his process depending on the project. “Most of the time, for this type of drawing I start with an outline composition, and after that has been finalised, I do a basic colouring of the design, making adjustments as required, and then I start to work in more detail. It’s a progressive process until the piece is finished. If there’s enough time, I’ll do some pencil drafts before developing the composition, which helps me get into the artistic mood better.”
all in the games
Incredibly, KD has never taken a professional art course – he graduated in computer science and technology from Sichuan University. But like many younger artists, he was obsessive about video game art in his youth and played many games, which have influenced his visual style ever since. Indeed, he says, “I think this has been my biggest motivation in what I have achieved so far as a self-taught artist.”
Now, as a freelance artist, he works with numerous local clients – on projects that rarely surface in the West – as well as with international companies such as Blizzard, Games Workshop and Riot Games. “I live in Nanjing at the moment,” he says. “I’ve also lived in three other cities: Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou. Because of work, I don’t have many chances to travel. The few places I’ve visited have influenced my art, of course. For example, the Gobi desert, Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province and Jiuzhaigou.”
China, of course, has a massively rich and varied history when it comes to visual arts, and KD isn’t averse to drawing on the country’s artistic heritage now and then – though you definitely wouldn’t stereotype him as a ‘Chinese’ artist.
I think video gaming has been my biggest motivation in what I have achieved so far as a self-taught artist
“One monk versus bandits in the market!” An older work completed for Perfect World’s Swordsman Online. Fighting Among the Market
The traditional orc doesn’t come much nastier than in KD’s own imagining of them. No story behind this one – come up with your own ideas about what’s led to the confrontation…