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Life & Work with Keith Alexander Lee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith Alexander Lee.

Hi Keith Alexander, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am a student from SCAD recently graduated from their MFA illustration program and will be heading to Savannah this June for graduation.

Originally I wanted to draw to document bits and pieces of my life with my wife and give it to her as a present. I posted these little slice of life cartoon drawing on Instagram and it started gaining traction. I started receiving words of encouragement from people over the internet who liked my art and it meant a lot to me. I began to take some online classes on my spare time from work.

Eventually, I came across an opportunity to visit SCAD’s opening day in their Hong Kong campus and learnt of the possibility of attending a master’s program. As I mentioned I have been taking some classes online but I felt that there was much more to be learnt and it would be beneficial to do so under the accelerated environment. With the support of my wife, I decided to pursue an MFA with SCAD as a full-time student. The learning environment was amazing. It was a given that the professors were very insightful and skilled, but what I enjoyed the most was being in the same learning environment with so many talented artists who are my peers. However, this also hastened my anxiety that I am not on par with other students in terms of my fundamental art skills. This anxiety did act as a motivator for me. In order to be at a closer level to my peers, I would increase my drawing practice hours. Their comments on my art always gave me fresh perspectives and I looked forward to every critique session.

I attribute much of my artistical growth not only to my professor but to all my peers that I have crossed paths with, Their input has pushed my work on a path of constant improvement. I will continue to carry on with what I have learned in my time with SCAD and keep improving in my future work. I am now working as a freelance illustrator with a focus on doing conceptual illustrations. I hope to continue to work within the editorial and advertising illustration market.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
While I grew up with manga classics like Doraemon, and Dragon Ball Z. It never occurred to me that visual arts was a viable career. When I was young, it was a common understanding that we should be doing something “practical” when we grew up. This was much of the mindset surrounding the community I grew up in. My primary school would have classes like physical education, arts and craft, computer class labeled as hobby classes, while Chinese, English, Math and Science were labeled as the primary classes. It was not until I graduated from my university did I started picking up drawing again.

As my draw blog on Instagram began to pick up, I took time to reexamine what is it that I wanted to do with my life and decided to take some classes online to better my drawing as it was mostly self-taught when I first started. While I was able to pick up some basic foundational knowledge, a lot of the improvement is based on time and effort. Which at times were frustrating, not because of the time it takes to improve, but the frustration stem from me not starting this journey earlier. However, it was also very satisfying to know that the time and effort I put in will reflect in my work.

I wouldn’t say they were challenges, but events that solidified my resolve in pursuing visual art communications as a career. I have enjoyed every minute of this journey I have been on. And I was fortunate enough to have the choice and financial support to do so.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am currently a freelance illustrator. I specialize in conceptual illustrations. I find enjoyment in creating illustrations that are thought-provoking and offer an interesting perspective for the viewers. I enjoy creating work revolving social issues and events as I believe that these topics deserve more attention.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to have my work accepted into the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles’s annual illustration competition, “Illustration West 60”.

I hope to continue to create work that gives my viewers a fresh and unique perspective in the topics I cover while simultaneously calling for more attention towards these important topics.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
I would say reading Mangas as I have mentioned previously. I grew up before computers were a common household items, so most of my fondest memories were being out in the park or reading Mangas on the couch next to the window. The joy and sense of wonderment in each of those picture panels has brought me leaves an everlasting memory of happiness in my mind. While I am not exactly a Mangaka, but I hope to bring that sense of wonderment to my viewers through my conceptual illustrations.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All Rights Reserved. All Images © 2022 by Keith Lee Illustration.

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