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World of Illustrator SHIBO CHEN

Illustrator SHIBO CHEN is paving his path by creating a boundlessly imaginative world of illustration which brings a new touch to the just launched menswear designs. Soon after we discovered his sublime illustrations we were eager to commission Shibo to illustrate some of our favourite menswear collections, our latest collaboration is published in MMSCENE issue 017.


For Design SCENE Magazine Issue 018 we sat down to talk with Shibo about his creatives process, inspiration and his love for the work of Gucci’s Alessandro Michele among other things.

Hi Shibo, can you tell us, who is Shibo Chen, and what does he do?
Hi! I come from China. I consider myself as a visual artist cause I’m doing a lot of work like illustration, animation, film, photography and graphic design. Right now I’m pursuing my graduate study in CalArts majoring in Graphic Design and I did my undergraduate study in China majoring in Animation. I love fashion illustration and collage.

How did you get interested in illustration?
I like drawing since I was little. Also majoring in animation gives me plenty of time to draw whatever I like when I was in college. So I guess I always loved illustration. However, I started to fall in love with fashion illustration during my second year in college. When I saw the amazing fashion illustration from the likes of Richard Kilroy and fashion collage from Ernesto Artillo, their work brought me into the fashion world. After that, I started to keep an eye on fashion shows, famous designers and I started to make my own work about fashion.

What are the most memorable responses you had to your work so far?
Ah, there’s plenty, such as “Amazing! Dope! You have a super unique style and you should keep doing this!” I think most of them are about my unique style.

From MMSCENE issue 17

So, what do you like about your work?
I think the first thing I like about my work is that I have my unique style and I also feel so lucky that I found it. I think for a fashion illustrator, it’s important to have a unique style, which will differentiate your work from other people’s work.

Also, I love how I incorporate my fashion illustration into different areas. For my graduation project, I made a 3-minute animation exploring different visual approaches to show the beauty of fashion. I really had fun making it and I definitely made full use of my skills in fashion illustration. It turned out to be great and won a few fashion film festival awards. Recently, I’ve been collaborating with my friend Hailun Ma. She is a photographer and also has her own unique style. We find a way to mix her photograph and my illustration. The collaboration goes pretty well and helps me to find a new way to expand my work.

Fashion is a very strong source of inspiration for you, who are your favourite fashion designers? We already know you are a fan of Alessandro Michele.
Of course! He is definitely one of my favourites! The change he brought to Gucci, even the entire fashion industry is amazing. So romantic and dreamy. I also like Maria Grazia Chiuri, she is just awesome!

The most inspiring fashion model?
I mean I don’t have a favourite, I love them all! They are all my inspirations! But I think the first fashion model I know is Sean O’pry. He is awesome.

From MMSCENE issue 17

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
It doesn’t change that much. I guess there is always something romantic and poetic in my work. I’m also interested in traditional Chinese culture and I used to draw a lot of illustrations about ancient Chinese myths. I think the poetic and exquisite part in Chinese culture really have a big influence on me. Then it’s the work of different wonderful artists, like illustrators, photographers, designers, in fashion industry. Seeing their work really helps me to work on finding my own style.

What tools do you use while creating your artwork?
Now I like using photoshop to draw. Funny thing, I feel lucky that I found a photoshop brush that suits me. I think that brush is part of the reason I managed to find my current style.

But what about traditional tools?
Sometimes I still draw on paper, however, most of my fashion illustrations are digital now. I mean they all have their advantages, I think the important thing is how to use that. The texture of the hand-drawn illustration is amazing, however, digital drawing just makes drawing easier with the brush and some special effects in the software. They are both important to me.

But when it comes to fashion college. I do like making them by hand. Cause I feel like the texture and space feel wonderful in the real world.

What is the most important aspect when you draw a new piece? What is the one thing you care about the most?
Usually, I will start to draw a new piece after I see some looks from the fashion shows or some great fashion photograph that I really like. I think it’s vital to have your own interpretation of every look you draw, otherwise, it’s just a copy of the clothing. That’s the most important part of my drawing process. I’ll always put my own understanding of the look, enlarge the part that I think highlights the design and attracts me the most. Sometimes it is the model wearing it, sometimes is the pattern of the clothing, sometimes is the accessory. I always like using flowers as background elements to compromise the look and express my feelings. Flowers are my favourite.

Did the social media presence help you find new jobs and do you think it’s crucial today for creatives in your field?

I mostly use Instagram to post my work. It definitely helps me to spread my work and I can always find awesome work on Instagram. Also, it does help me to find some collaboration opportunities with some fashion magazines and artists. I think that social media now plays a vital part in every industry. Many artists use that as a way to show people their work and build their career, especially for the fashion industry. I mean, who knows that one day some famous designers may see your work and ask you for a collaboration. I mean social media isn’t everything, but it is important.

What is your dream project?
Collaborating with Gucci….or any clothing brand 🙂

Professionally, what’s your goal?
Right now, I want to be a visual artist in the fashion industry. I want to collaborate with clothing brands and fashion magazines. So I guess it’s more like a general direction, just anything about fashion, like fashion illustration, collage, film, photography, etc. Maybe in a few years, I’ll try to open my own studio and try some clothing design in the future.

Keep up with Shibo @shibochen

Originally published in DESIGN SCENE Issue 018, available now in print & digital.

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