Interview With Huan Tran

Huan Tran Interview

Huan Tran is an amazing illustrator. His work is rich with texture, color, and human figures. Moreover, he does it all in Illustrator 10! Huan has been kind enough to do an interview with Vectips, so read on to learn more about his Illustrator experience and industry insights.

About Huan Tran

Huan Tran is an illustrator living in Toronto, Canada. Tran started Leaking Faucet Studio in 1999, doing mostly graphic design, web design and marketing/brand consulting. But Tran’s passion lies in illustrations. Tran has worked with many clients including: AT&T, XBOX, Coca Cola, and many more.

Huan Tran Around the Web


Hey Huan, thanks for taking the time to provide Vectips with an Interview! To start, could you tell us about your illustrating background?

I’d like to say that I started out as a big shot at some advertising agency, or perhaps an art director at a stylish anti-pop culture magazine. I would even settle for a depressed painter who got a government grant to recreate his tortured mind on canvas, winning over all the critics. But alas the truth, I just simply went to university for illustration, after having first finished another degree in computer science somewhere else. I started Leaking Faucet Studio back in 1999, doing mostly graphic design, web design and marketing/brand consulting. But my passion lies in conceiving illustrations.

Smoking Stressed

Your illustrations have great depth, texture, and imagination. How did you come to develop this style?

When I was an infant, I was dropped on my head, then there was that incident where a bowling ball fell on my skull. And how can I forget the time when the ninja roundhouse kicked me in the melon to prove his sneakiness. I equate all my imagination to brain damage, and an abyss of curiosity for every field of knowledge. I love ideas, history, culture, academia, everything really. This spurs on my further fascination with contrast; the interaction between hard and soft, light and dark, colours, graphic vs. painterly, texture and clean. (Feels like I should have one more sentence to tie this paragraph off, but…meh.)

Keeping Communication Snag Free

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about the illustrating industry?

My favourite thing is merely the fact that it exists, that a person can make a career by playing with ideas and crayons, not much to complain about there. My least favourite thing would be the constant flux the industry goes through, from managing rights to the ebb and flow of project budgets.

Baby Brain Science 101

As a professional Illustrator, what are your thoughts in general when it comes to stock and low cost illustration?

Stock has its place and to simply reject that, would be to risk becoming like a senior citizen who still doesn’t know that the internet exists. It’s here to stay and it’s changing the nature of the business, so best we learn to live with it and incorporate our business with it. Cheap stock images work for clients with no budget, but for projects that want to stand out in their creativity and to be unique, buyers will still hire original art. I prefer rights managed stock, where it’s more like reselling usage rights at competitive rates. Catalogue style stock art isn’t really my thing, but if you like drawing tons of little one off images with hopes of wide appeal in usage, then here’s a business model for you. “My cat’s breath smells like cat food”.

About Face

Could you describe your typical workflow for an illustration?

Think of idea…think…think….Sketchy, sketchy, sketchy, SCAN! Email…wait….wait…wait…APPROVED! Load Illustrator, click drag point, click-a-dee-click, click, click, click, COLOUR! Export, finish, beer o’clock.

New Teachers

Why did you choose Illustrator and vector art as a medium?

I like vector art for its properties, being able to render clean lines easily and soft shapes as well. I like that objects can be moved, edited and coloured with ease, which also lends well to the revisions process of a project. Tying back into my statement about my fascination with contrast, Illustrator allows me to combine graphic and painterly styles with ease and play with an array of contrast techniques. Working digitally in addition provides flexibility for me to output at different sizes and to be able to simply email the finals to clients, which streamlines the process from artist to buyer. Illustrator also looks damn sexy in a bikini.


If you were magically turned into any Illustrator tool, what tool would it be and why?

Finally somebody asked! I often think about what Illustrator tool I would want to be. The pen tool gets all the glory and is like the high school jock, so I wouldn’t be it. I would be the pathfinder tool, splitting and combining shapes, confusing at first, but logical and simplistic once you get to know it.

Spring Into The Coke Side of Life

What is your favorite Illustrator tip, trick, or technique?

Transparencies with blends is my favourite way to create vibrant colours in areas where the colour could be dead. I like layering a few layers over each other to mix the colours and bring shapes to life. I then frizzle and hair and yell like a maniac, “It’s alive!”

The Big Data Center Sync

Have you upgraded to CS4? If you have upgraded, what is your favorite feature? If not, why haven’t you upgraded?

I actually still use Illustrator 10. Mostly due to laziness. I’m just comfortable with this version and it has all I need, to do what I want. Nobody has really shown me a new tool in CS that has made me go “Wow, holy jebus! I must upgrade now!”


What aspects of your illustrations reflect parts of your personality?

With most of my work, I try to show a little hope, even if the subject matter is dark. Usually this is in my colour palette, other times it’s in the concept. I’ve got my health and a roof over my head; I’m already ahead of a lot of the world, no complaints.


What is your dream project?

My dream project would be for NASA, to skin one of my illustrations on the space shuttle. I think it would look awesome in space against the darkness of the solar system and for way better TV footage.


What are your favorite sources of inspiration?

The news, hands down, I’m a bit of a junkie. If you could ingest news in pill form, I would overdose.

Go For It

Thanks again for the interview! Is there advice any that you could give for aspiring and professional illustrators?

I recommend going out and playing a sport once a week, it’ll prevent your body from seizing up due to too many hours in the studio. That way you break a sweat after physical activity, as opposed to before, due to a panic attack instigated by the idea of having to do physical activity.

Spring Shopping

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13 thoughts on “Interview With Huan Tran

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  1. Good to see that there are still crazy deranged and highly skilled illustrators who take the time to throw a healthy dose of humor in their answers.

    Amazing style and detail though… would love to see a tutorial with something like this some time to get a peak in the kitchen of the world of Huan Tran 🙂

  2. Hilarious little comments :
    “I then frizzle and hair and yell like a maniac, “It’s alive!””

    and very good interview.

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