In Conversation with Gavin Aung Than

Conversation with Gavin Aung Than

(Gavin is the founder of ZenPencils, a website he created at the start of 2012 which showcases quotes with a unique twist, in cartoon form. Here’s the brilliant comic artist having a chat with us on how why he started ZenPencils, his inspirations and much more.)

Q1. Did you have a passion for art from a young age?

Yes, mainly through watching television cartoons and reading comics. I haven’t stopped since!

Q2. How and where did you hone your talent?

My first job was in an art department at a newspaper and I annoyed the comic editor enough that she let me publish my comics every week. I was initially very bad and probably shouldn’t have even been allowed to be printed, but I persisted and eventually got better week after week. I produced that comic for over five years. That was definitely my ‘training ground’ where I honed my skill.

Q3. Why did you choose to enter the commercial field of graphical art initially?

I was a realist and knew that making a living as a cartoonist was extremely difficult. So I got a graphic design degree to fall back on and worked as a designer for eight years. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do but I still got to work visually and use my creativity (sometimes). Plus I learnt a lot of computer software and practical skills that still come in very handy.

Q4. What made you to start ZenPencils?

Well, after eight years as working as a graphic designer I had had enough and decided to give cartooning a real chance. So I left my job, sold my house and have been working on Zen Pencils to try to inspire myself and others.

Q5. Your works have been featured in many facets of the Internet. Are you planning on diverging into other forms of media?

Not at the moment, but sure, in the future I would love to see an animated Zen Pencils cartoon, or a full-length comic book, maybe even a children’s book. Right now, I’m more than happy to be online as a webcomic.

Q6. Who/ what do you derive inspiration from for your comics?

I get inspiration from everywhere – other cartoonists, designers, movies and animation. But it’s all been mixed up in my head over the years and comes out on the page.

Q7. Your comics have been a roaring success, so are you planning on branching out into other forms of comics, other than quotes?

Maybe in the future but I’m happy working on quotes for the time being. I can see myself doing Zen Pencils for a few years at least, but I will eventually have to think of my own stories in the future.

Q8. Every piece of art must give you a sense of satisfaction. Is this derived from external opinion, or do you fuel yourself from within?

I appreciate the feedback I get but I definitely fuel myself from within. I know when one of my comics isn’t as good as I had hoped and this motivates to work harder on the next one.

Q9. Do you believe that universities or other institutions make an artist, or do talent and hard work speak for themselves?

Talent and hard work always speak for themselves, especially for artists. I don’t remember anything worth knowing from my three years at university.

Q10. Any tips for budding artists?

Like I said, talent and hard work always prevail, but hard work is much more important!

Varun Srivatsan

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