Chairman Ting turns doodling into fine art

Chairman Ting turns doodling into fine art

Like many kids, Carson Ting loved to doodle. Unlike many kids, he turned his love into a highly sought-after art practice.

Under the name of his Vancouver-based design studio Chairman Ting, he has taken his whimsical, playful, cartoonish style of drawing and illustration to many different surfaces (think: indoor walls; outdoor walls; sneakers; pins; and even a statue—of Snoop Dogg, no less).

Photo by Hubert Kang.

“I always knew I wanted to do something artistic,” Ting reflects over the phone. “I’ve always loved doodling and drawing comic books and stuff like that.”

Still, it wasn’t a straight-ahead path into the art world. Born in Toronto, Ting studied design at OCAD University; while there, he was introduced to (and subsequently fell in love with) advertising, which eventually led him to move to Vancouver for a job at the acclaimed agency Rethink. His managers there proved instrumental in helping him develop his artistic voice.

“They never allowed us to do any concept work on the computer; they always encouraged us to draw our ideas on paper,” Ting says. “That conditioning of drawing really quickly—of putting ideas on paper—really nurtured that style of very quick doodling.”

He recalls that clients and coworkers alike were always tickled by his concepts: their cartoonish glee, their bright energy, their quirky yet familiar tone. It’s no wonder, either: with thick, smooth lines; lots of bright colours; and careful play between depth and proportion and perspective, Ting’s work is thoughtful and focussed, but it’s also a little unwieldy. It feels magical and expressive—like it could leap to life before your eyes, the way the carousel horses do in Mary Poppins. Or maybe a better reference would be the way the Looney Tunes jump into our world in Space Jam.

Photo by Hubert Kang.

In any case, as he grew in his career as an art director in Vancouver (a city that he says has a thriving art scene, though “it needs a lot of digging” to find), Ting started to take on illustration clients on the side. Slowly, over a number of years, he eased off on the advertising side to pursue illustration full-time.

It was something of a full-circle move for the former kid doodler, and the results have been fruitful, to say the least. Ting has done work for an array of high-profile clients, including Adidas, Nike, Uniqlo, Infiniti, Marvel, Starbucks, Porsche, the NBA, and the aforementioned Snoop Dogg via his wine label 19 Crimes (surprisingly delicious, by the way).

He doesn’t keep any clients on retainer, preferring to tie up each project individually and then see what comes his way next. It keeps him engaged—and it keeps him creative.

“It’s really the unknown that excites me every day when I wake up. ‘Who’s gonna call me today? Or tomorrow?’ ” he muses. “I never work on the same thing twice. So just knowing that I’m going to be working on something different every couple months or every couple weeks is very exciting to me. The brands and collabs bring a lot of energy for me, and what I love about being an illustrator—and that is kind of what drives me—is the knowing that I get to create something new.”

Photo by Danny Yu.

Ever-present in his work is a desire to invoke a sense of play, and to ensure he’s having fun (it’s why the official full name of his design studio is Chairman Ting Industries: a silly name to help remind him not to take himself too seriously).

“When it comes down to, you know, working, I’m very serious. Although the work does not look serious,” Ting says with a chuckle. “I try to stay as professional as possible and be serious for the right moments: when we’re talking about contracts, when we’re talking about money, when we’re talking about the requirements for delivery. And then when it comes to drawing, it’s all fair game. I get to have as much fun as possible.”

He still takes immense care and attention in the work, of course, but one can’t help but think his talent lies in his ability to step outside himself—to recall those days in the advertising world when it was less about thinking and more about doing. Put pen to paper, see what happens. So much of art is instinctual, and so much of why we like it is, too.

Glen Powell teases Top Gun 3 while promoting latest movie Hit Man with director Richard Linklater at Sundance Film Festival Previous post Glen Powell teases Top Gun 3 while promoting latest movie Hit Man with director Richard Linklater at Sundance Film Festival
Avril Lavigne sets Canadian dates on ‘greatest hits’ tour – Entertainment News Next post Avril Lavigne sets Canadian dates on ‘greatest hits’ tour – Entertainment News