KD Stan­ton

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

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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…

Street Fighter

Or­cward busi­ness

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