Jia Sung Paints a Picture

Brooklyn-based ADC Member working on becoming "Goya 2.0"

ADC’s Illustration Month continues to bring out the best in our community, as more and more ADC Members step into the spotlight. While graphic designers and advertising creatives are the biggest groups in ADC’s global membership, we are proud to have a sizable collection of professional, student and amateur illustrators in our ranks.

Our next featured ADC Member is a Brooklyn-based RISD grad who loves capturing thoughts in a physical form.


Brooklyn, NY



Just about every kid can draw, but not every kid is particularly gifted at it. Where did your childhood artistic inclinations come from?

I’m pretty sure I got my start scrawling on my bedroom walls in Crayola, to the despair of my long-suffering mother. I was a pretty normcore child doodler until adolescence hit me and I thought I would be a sort of Goya 2.0 (which I’m still working on.)

When did you discover that “Hey, this could actually be a career”?

I always secretly considered the idea of being an artist, let alone a financially independent one, kind of a pipe dream until I went to Rhode Island School of Design, where getting to talk to faculty, visiting lecturers, alumni, and learning about their paths and practices woke me up to the idea of a career in art as an achievable reality.

How would you describe your illustrative style? Do you fight against having a particular style, or do you embrace your style as your “brand”?

I tend to make very scribbly marks and build them up, whether in drawing or painting. It’s not really something I aim for, but something I can’t help doing – I feel like I don’t really know how to make an image any other way.

“It’s not really something I aim for, but something I can’t help doing – I feel like I don’t really know how to make an image any other way.”

Walk us through your usual creative process.

My work draws from observation a lot, but my process can be unpredictable – I usually make my sketches, get reference pictures or subjects from life together and build from there. Or conversely I might lay down a few marks, see what they suggest to me, and then pull them into clearer resolution.

Tools of the trade: do you have any specific pens, pencils or other instruments that you swear by?

I have an enduring affair with Uniball Signo DX ballpoint pens that has been going strong since high school. They’re not waterproof and not as versatile as other pens out there, but I always come back. I couldn’t do without my sumi ink and watercolors either – I like pulling forms out of the vague, loose gestures of water-based media,

Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, I created a series of memorial portraits; the piece is still very close to my heart, and I hope to make more work that draws on my personal worldview in the same way.


Where do you seek out creative inspiration?

Books, friends and other artists (often synonymous). I also find a lot of painters really engaging, such as Alex Kanevsky and Jennifer Packer.

Which professional illustrators do you look up to?

Lately I’ve been looking at other RISD grads like Dadu Shin and Wesley Allsbrook a lot!

At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?

Getting to capture my thoughts in physical form – or to make a record of the world around me.

Illustration Month continues throughout January and February, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!