Artist Interview - Mythic Mats a.k.a Phillip Hua
Phillip Hua is a very talented artist who has exhibited his work in fine art shows across the globe. From Singapore to London, Hong Kong to the United States, he has garnered considerable respect and acclaim for his work. We sat down with him to find out how he got his start in the art world, what kind of difficulties artists face today, and how he got started selling his art through Inked Gaming.
MB - How did you get started with making art?
PH - I was always drawing as a kid. My brother and I would have competitions to see who could draw better, things like drawing tigers and dragons. It helped to have someone who was not competitive but was there to help push me to get better. I started reading comics soon after and would trace and try to copy the illustrations of professional artists. In high school I took a few art classes but was still unsure of what I wanted to do. I decided to go to community college and had a really good art teacher who encouraged me and told me I could do it as a career. After community college I went to art school and towards the end of my time there I got into fine art and have been working as an artist since then.
MB - How did you get started selling your work through Inked Gaming and what is the process like for designing playmat illustrations?
PH - I started playing Magic when I was younger and a friend showed me a playmat he bought from Inked Playmats. I thought it looked cool and decided to create my own design and got a really good response when I took it to an FNM. I sold a few of them casually to people I knew and eventually started selling my art through Inked Playmats. I have enjoyed making illustrations for Inked because it has been more like a hobby for me than work. Some people in high stress jobs go home and play guitar or do some hobby like that to relax. Making the work sold through Inked has been like that for me, It is my art hobby when I am not doing my art work. I also prefer the graphic quality of Inked that lets that work be more like a timeless piece of art than just a simple playmat.
The process for playmat art is more of a graphic design and illustration approach than my fine work. I draw a lot of inspiration from ancient European and Asian designs, symbols and graphics. And then of course trying to take this inspiration from ancient places and times and produce a quality, modern piece from it.
MB - Where do you draw inspiration from for your art?
PH - I draw a lot of inspiration from Asian cultures, it's what I know and grew up with. I really like the craftsmanship of Asian art and architecture. I do draw inspiration from everywhere though, there is not really one specific place that will be the only place I get inspiration from, it comes from a variety of these cultures, my childhood, and current events. There isn't just one type of art or source for inspiration, it's a lot like music in that way. People aren't going to like just rap or rock, they will listen to different genres depending on how they feel. Some days what will inspire me in art is more dark and disturbing, and the next day it could be work that is traditional or aesthetically pleasing. It really varies day to day. Some of the artists whose work inspires me are people like Chris Rahn, Terese Nielsen, Rebecca Guay, and Justin Sweet.
MB - What kind of challenges do you face as an artist?
PH - The toughest part is making quality art so you can be unique and stand out in the art world. It isn't enough today to be a good artist who has good technical skills because that doesn't necessarily make you a successful artist. Being successful takes a lot of different ways of thinking, and some of those are about more than just drawing and painting. You have to have a good online presence with social media, build a fan base, be good at marketing and the business aspects of art as well as being technically skilled. It's sort of like being a small business, it takes a large amount of time and effort to get it up and running and there are a lot of people who don't want to put that time in, or don't want to put that time into the aspects of it like social media and marketing. The nice thing about being an artist today though is that there are a lot of opportunities that are open for us because of the internet and social media, but artists have to be willing to put the work in to get them.
MB - How do you feel when people view and buy your work? Is there a difference between your work for Inked Gaming and your fine art work?
PH - You definitely get a ego boost when people view and buy your art. It validates my work as an artist when I go into a FNM and see a total stranger who is using a playmat with artwork that I designed. You make a connection with people when they buy your art, because their aesthetic appeal is aligning with yours. It doesn't matter if it is a $20 playmat or a $4,000 painting, when people appreciate and buy your art, you can connect with them in that personal way and it is an amazing experience.
Phillip Hua is living in San Francisco, California and is working as a professional artist and adjunct professor teaching digital media at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. If you want to learn more about Phillip Hua or see more of his artwork visit his profile on Inked Gaming under the name 'Mythic Mats' or visit any of his social media accounts linked below.
Use the comments below to discuss his artwork and take a look at his whole collection here.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Phillip Hua's parents immigrated when he was 8. His family immigrated to the US before he was born. Artist Chris Rahn's name was also misspelled in a previous version.