The field of illustration has not always been there for Po-An Pan. However, he enjoyed drawing growing up in Taipei, where he admits he struggled with the traditional upbringing. After completing his four-month military service, he moved to the UK in 2017 to study design at the London College of Communication and later graphic communication design at Central Saint Martins as a path cleared.
“That’s when I started to find clues and realized that creating illustrations has always been my favorite way to express myself and accept pressure,” Po-An told Creative Boom. “Throughout my time at Central Saint Martins, I experimented with various media such as printmaking, film photography and 2D animation. The most important lesson was the concept of design process, which helped me learned to think and develop alongside the journey. Likewise, I like how Geoff McFetridge, a visual artist, has presented himself as a designer instead of an illustrator, as it opens up the possibility of various projects.”
Although Po-An admits it took time to develop his own style, something we all struggle with, he has now found a niche, creating rough-textured artwork that plays on the reality of life but take an ironic approach with “weird humor” and soft colors throughout. His pencil illustrations, though surreal, could be described as charming and peaceful thanks to the warm, muted colors he applies to his work. “The rough but vibrant texture of colored pencil allows me to illustrate the emotions and benevolence of humanity on two-dimensional mediums and to establish the connection with my childhood memories, in which drawing has always been my favorite way to express myself freely,” he explains.
A running theme in Po-An’s recent works has been the idea of awkwardness. “It’s something that constantly appears in daily life and cannot be avoided,” he says. “After being home alone for so long, the awkwardness can lead to an uncomfortable situation. Even now, at the start of 2022, I’m still struggling to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and reawaken my ability Through my sense of humor, my reflection, my everyday experiences, the news I read, and my illustration, I embrace what happened and illustrate the relationship between me and the awkward feeling. my illustrations in a new direction that hopefully can season the bizarre situation with a little humor.”
In New Normal, for example, we see Po-An’s attempt to return to life before the pandemic: “I try to capture the awkward emotion, which comes from returning to normal, but I’m also afraid of the new reality,” he says. In Balance in Life, we see how Po-An may have coped with two years of confinement and restrictions. “During the pandemic, being alone in London as a foreigner is a constant struggle for me,” he says. “The concept of mindfulness, how to meditate and self-reflection lead me to realize the essence of balance in life.”
The theme of the awkwardness continues in Same Suit, an illustration celebrating Halloween but with the concept of being in the same costume as someone else. Po-An animated piece with this particular motion adding a “light coat at work,” as he says. And in The Awkward Reunion, Po-An was inspired by his trip to the botanical garden of Oxford: “I illustrated my visit to the greenhouse and displays the time embraced by nature in adding bizarre facial expressions and title. this pair of illustrations, I I hope the combination will make people smile. “
The tone lightens for Po-An’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day: “As a Jazz lover, I am inspired by a scene from the documentary concert of the same name. My interpretation of jazz dives into illustration, which is full of excitement and energy. but presented with tenderness.”
Elsewhere, we learn Po-An of love for design furniture in a series that pays homage to some classics, such as The Rocking Chair Thonet and half-round table Aalto Alvar Aalto. You can find out more illustrations and Po-An creative practices on panpoan.com.