Breaking Bread with Artist Alvin Shi

Alvin is a second year studying math and physics at UChicago.

Alvin is a second year studying math and physics at UChicago.

What drew you to the digital medium? Is it the only medium you work in?

Being a general internet kid (sports? What are those?), I spent a lot of time on DeviantArt and whatever just looking at art. Most of the people I liked on there said they used digital programs, so I was like ‘hey, I already draw a bit in real life, might as well try it out and see!’ I liked it enough to keep going for like 12 years.

I like to sketch too, but most of my notebooks end up getting filled more with random homework notes and stuff.

What inspires you to create a certain image? Is there anything particular you hope to capture with your pieces?

Sometimes I’ll look at something and be like “oh hey that’d be a nice thing to draw.” But then I put it down on Illustrator or whatever, and the background’s all white and I only have a dinky little tree or TV taking up some space, so I have to fill up more of the canvas with some other things, and wouldn’t it be cool if maybe that TV was actually a head? What would the body look like? What kind of universe would this exist in? And then I end up drawing that instead.

Sometimes I just see a really nice color palette and try to shove it onto a more ‘mundane’ kind of object to mess around. Other times I just like to make patterns and go from there.

Is there any piece that you’ve attempted to create but have never been able to get it quite right?

I keep trying to do a face or an actual person with a body and arms and legs and stuff, but it never comes out looking right. I think I just keep getting distracted with what I want it to look like in the end and then I forget about the mechanics of ‘oh hey is the head the right size? Do the eyes not look dead? Where are you going to put the mouth? Are the legs too short?’ and those kinds of important things.

Who or what has been the strongest influence on your creative career, art or otherwise?

I follow a bunch of people. Endling (Deviantart person) was what got me to actually consider drawing as something I could try and get better at. ChasingArtwork (another Deviantart person) has this really cool style, and I try to emulate it. OmoCat uses really nice colors. I just kind of follow whoever on any art websites and try to just save everything they make that I like into my brain. It’s a big pile of mushy colors and nicely drawn poses. Those three names stand out the most right now, but if you come back in a week I’ll probably have another three or something.

Is there a space, a place, a location at UChicago that you particularly like? If so, what about it brings you back there?

Being an IHouse nomad, it’s nice to just spend time anywhere for a while and just work. The lounge we have is really cool, and there are a bunch of friends I have and we all kinda play videogames and discuss random things and work in there, so that’s nice. Other than that I guess I spent a lot of time in Cobb Cafe last year but that place isn’t for everyone.

If you could live in any fantasy world as depicted in a book, graphic novel, movie, etc., where would you live and why?

I’d probably live in some middle-fantasy/sci-fi place. There’s this one webcomic called Ava’s Demon? Probably there. Or maybe just like one of those cop-out anime RPG-based universes so I could have an excuse to be overpowered and run around and build my own nation or something (Tensei Slime, Konosuba, whatever).

If there’s anything that you’d like to share with our readers that doesn’t fit into our questions, feel free to do so here!

Never delete your stuff! Even if you hate it right after you finish it, just keep it! Better yet, upload it somewhere so you feel a little itch to immediately upload something better! Practice is cool.

Also take breaks! Drink water! All that.

“Birch Please” is Alvin’s first submission to Sliced Bread, taken from our  Autumn 2018  edition.

“Birch Please” is Alvin’s first submission to Sliced Bread, taken from our Autumn 2018 edition.