May 6, 2022 • 5M

120. Taking the Leap with Don Low

Insights from Ep 41 of the SneakyArt Podcast

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Nishant Jain
Best ideas from a journey of self-education. For Insider ears only.
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👋🏼 Hello listeners!

I am delighted to share with you the 🎙 new episode of the SneakyArt Podcast, a conversation with Singapore-based comic artist, Don Low. Also, the 🙋🏻‍♀️ link to Saturday’s sketchbook tour!

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🎙 Ep 41 Taking the Leap with Don Low

Singapore-based comic artist Don Low talks about taking the leap from an engineering career to becoming a full-time creative. He shares stories from his lifelong journey of self-education and explains why he loves to draw his urban environment.

In making the decision to commit to creative work, Don negotiated a number of obstacles and burdens, personal and societal, that I could relate with. We speak about our similar journeys that went along relatively safe career paths but later pivoted, towards discovering and pursuing our individual creative goals.

His story is one of continuous self-education both inside and outside the classroom. And if there's anything I would like to give you from this conversation, it is the joy that he has for just learning things. Find his work on Instagram and visit his website.

Listen to our conversation on your choice of streaming service, or grab a link below:

Spotify | Apple | PocketCasts | Google | Web | Gaana

📝 Best Insights from speaking with Don

Here are some things that occurred to me as I edited this episode.

👥 Living a dual life. Don relates how he balanced a full-time job with creative aspirations by drawing through the night. I share similar experiences from my short-lived academic career.

To know more about my experience, listen to this conversation on the Science Friction podcast with Natasha Mitchell (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

📕 [20:30] Making his first big comic. What motivated Don to write and draw a 200-page comic at the end of his engineering degree?

✍🏼 [30:00] A path of self-education. Don shares his path of self-education starting with Photoshop 4, InDesign, and Illustrator, to Clip Studio, Affinity Designer, Blender and Procreate.

“I should never be afraid to try something new, just because I have no relevant experience.” - Don Low [36:16]

🔐 Permission. I speak about the need to get out of your own way and give yourself the permission to do difficult things. Related, my conversation with Virginia Hein in Ep 31.

✈️ [42:00] Studying animation. We talk about Don’s decision to study animation in Savannah, Georgia (USA), and his experiences in America.

“I needed to abandon my comfort zone of 30 years.” - Don.

✍🏼 [53:30] Coming across urban sketching. Don explains how he started urban sketching, while interning at Disney in Burbank, California. Later he becomes a part of the growing USk community in Singapore - Tia Studio, Paul Wang, Teoh Yi Chie.

“… The more we lean on what we think of [as] our mistakes, the closer we come to finding what is our style, because style is actually just an accumulation of different mistakes that we learn to deal with.” - Nishant [1:02:28]

🖋 Responding to the pen. Don explains how he uses every pen in its own way. He lets the tool dictate his style. I talk about “form follows function” and the effect of different pen-nibs upon style.


💻 [1:13:20] Learning Blender. What attracted Don to Blender, a 3D modeling program? And how is he going about learning via YT? He speaks of repetition as the key to imbibing lessons and internalizing the stepwise approach.

☎️ [1:17:00] The Freelancer Business. Don explains how being a freelancer means not thinking of yourself as just an artist. You have to be a businessman - do cold calls, market yourself, and build relationships with clients.

🎙 Don’s favourite episodes. Don speaks about his urban sketching heroes who have spoken on the podcast - Donald Colley (Ep 5 and Ep 35), Virginia Hein (Ep 31), and Rob Sketcherman (Ep 18).

🥋 Learning to draw from comics. Don speaks about how his style is inspired by comics, and how that works alongside observational gesture drawing.

“Not exaggeration, but clarity of gesture.” - Don.

I speak about the great cartoonist Will Eisner, and his wonderful book about comics and sequential art. We speak about how much there is to learn from comics and the way people read them.

💡 [1:22:15] Drawing people. We speak about the how and why of drawing people quickly in public spaces. Reference to the Library of Good Lines.

💻 Live Sketchbook Tour + Q&A!

I am doing a live sketchbook tour + Q&A on Saturday 7 May, 10 am Pacific Time. (Yes, tomorrow!) This event is free to attend and I hope that you will be able to join.

Besides flipping through the sketchbook of ‘30 Days of Vancouver’, we will pick out our favourite Tiny People and draw them into a zine. The session will end with a zine giveaway!

RSVP for sketchbook tour

(I decided against doing this on Discord, since Zoom is easier for more people.)

🙌🏽 Hearing from listeners

I love to hear back from listeners of the show. Recently, Julie stopped by to buy me some coffee and leave a wonderful note.

I responded: “Julie, thank you for your kind words. They have absolutely made my day! It has been my observation on the path from beginner to advanced, that the questions do not change very much. We just keep finding newer answers. I am glad the podcast is able to give you some answers.”

I am delighted to be supported by avid listeners of the show.

Buy Me A Coffee!

If you are both a reader and listener, another great way to support my work is to become a SneakyArt Insider.

Thank you for your time and attention. I will see you next week!