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1003. James Ng

James Ng (pronounced Ing) was born in Hong Kong, where he spent most of his childhood drawing monsters and robots, making his own elaborate cardboard toys, and playing soccer. Ever since, he has been on the move between Hong Kong, Vancouver, Chicago and New York. His travels have greatly influenced him, allowing him to combine Eastern and Western cultures in his artwork.

Currently James is enjoying the freedom of being a freelance concept artist and illustrator. After a sunny summer in Vancouver, and traveling to London, and then to New York for an award show and exhibition, he is back in his home of Hong Kong to plan for his next trip. One day, he hopes to start a design company with some friends, and maybe even direct a movie featuring all his monsters and robots.

The idea of "Imperial Steamworks" developed in 2008 when James was studying Chinese history. James is very interested in the Chinese Qing Dynasty and the modernization of countries outside of Europe. The Qing Dynasty is the last dynasty in Imperial China; it was the period of time when China was invaded by other countries which had gone through industrial revolutions. The foreign powers forced them to sign unfair trade treaties and to give up land to foreign rule. James' home of Hong Kong was among these lands.

He says, "China had no one to blame but themselves for falling behind, and since then, it is the Western countries who have set the bar of being "the modern city". The standard of modernization is basically westernization, and as China becomes more modern, it also becomes more like the West." James began to wonder... what if China was the first to modernize during the turn of the last century? What if China was the standard that other countries had to work towards, what would things look like today? Perhaps China would still be in imperial rule? Maybe skyscrapers would look like Chinese temples? Cars would look like carriages? And maybe we would have fantastical machines that look both futuristic and historic.

James' Imperial Steamworks series "... is a personal project where I try to merge Imperial Chinese designs and history with western steam works, the English Industrial Revolution and fantasy."

His creation process involves a lot of research and reference collecting, not only about Chinese history, but also the Industrial Revolution and the physics of a steam engine. With more understanding comes more realism.

James further comments:
After I collect references, I would sketch the idea based on the reference pictures, trying to combine them in different ways. When I have a design that I am happy with, I will draw a clean sketch in an angle that is the most descriptive of the design. Sometimes if the design is too complicated, such as this airship, I will have to draw it in a few different views before I can visualize it in a 3 dimension view.

At this point, I could usually picture what the finished product would look like. To tell the truth as soon as I could see the image clearly in my head, I start to lose interest in the work, because all the creation process is over. The rest of the process is just labor work to paint something that I have already finished creating in my mind.

When James started posting artwork online, many people refered to it as Chinese Steampunk. At first, James didn't even know what steampunk meant. While his work use a lot of steam engine references mostly because the imagery is inspired by historical steam power, it's not surprising that his work has received a bit of attention from the steampunk community. James believes that the important thing is that he stays true to his original inspiration, and does not try to forcefully fit his images into the steampunk genre.

James would love to hear your comments and criticism regarding his artwork. He can be reached via his website

External Links
Interview - Airship Ambassador
Interview - DPI
Interview - TOR
Interview - Conselho SteamPunk (video)
Interview - Innsmouth Free Press
Interview - The Gilded Monocle
Article - Crystal Herbalists & Zombie-Fighting Exorcists: The Newest Work of James Ng
Article - Cosplying James Ng's Imperial Sheriff

See Also
1013. Imperial Airship
1014. Immortal Empress
1015. Imperial Sheriff
1016. Key Keeper
1017. Court Band
1018. Night Patrol
1019. Imperial Inventor
1020. Harvester
1021. Bridal Carriage
1022. Crystal Herbalist
1022. Exorcist

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