Featured Artist: Interview with Digital Artist Eric Proctor

by . February 4th, 2014

Cute monsters, dragons, Disney characters and Grumpy Cat. These set of things pretty much sum up the themes that dominate the work of Eric Proctor. The US-based digital artist re-imagines a world of fantasy and fairy tales through his colorful digital paintings.

Digital Art by TsaoShin

Little Chimera” by TsaoShin

Eric, also known as TsaoShin in DeviantArt, has transformed the usual ferocious dragons and monsters into unique and adorable little characters everyone will love. Having the background in traditional painting, he manages to maintain the “hand-made” look and feel in his digital drawings.

YTD got the chance to do an interview with Eric, talking about his career, creative process, inspirations, Disney, his adorable Lynx cat and more! Check out the interview and more of his works below:

[pullquote]Eric Proctor aka TsaoShin

I try to measure my life by how often I laugh, the places I go, and the memories I make with my friends and family. I want to make sure my artwork translates that joy to my audience.[/pullquote]

YTD: Hi Eric, welcome to You The Designer! How’s your day so far?

ERIC: Thanks for having me! My day is going well but busy as usual.

YTD: Tell us something about you and your creative work.

ERIC: By day I’m a concept illustrator for a research laboratory but a digital painter by night. I’m like an art Batman except I have no muscles or acrobatic abilities. Also, I’m not a billionaire or an engineering genius. Actually, scratch the whole Batman thing. I’m just someone who loves to draw all day long.

Eric Proctor aka TsaoShin

YTD: You have a background in traditional painting and now your works are mainly in digital formats. Can you share to us how the transition happened?

ERIC: The transition from traditional to digital happened fairly quickly after I left school. Simply put, oils and brushes were expensive and I lacked a proper studio at the time. My dive into digital platforms accelerated after seeing the vast amount of inspirational work by rising digital painters like Craig Mullins, Hyung Tae Kim, and Ryan Church. It took some time to accustom myself to a tablet, but I quickly grew to love the flexibility and speed of the digital environment.

Digital Art by TsaoShin

Early Bird” by TsaoShin

YTD: What are your main tools? Describe to us your workplace.

ERIC: My studio is part workspace and part museum of my interests. I fill my creative space with all the things that inspire me: figurines, sculptures, and artwork by other artists. This room opens up to my billiard room and arcade. I try to take breaks often so that I never feel burnt out on art. I never want art to feel like a chore.

Work space of Eric Proctor



My main rig for digital painting is a Mac Pro, Cinema Display, and a Wacom Cintiq 24 HD. The Cintiq is a new addition replacing my long history with the Intuos line (still suffering from a bit of a breaking-in period with it!). The studio is attached to a large sunroom where I do my traditional work.

YTD: What’s your typical creative process?

ERIC: I spend a lot of time brainstorming, drafting, and refining an idea before I commit anything to the first round of colors. It’s a lot of work but I don’t let this process bog me down. The effort I make in drafting the drawing ends with a more polished finished painting.

Eric Proctor

When I paint digitally, I try to approach my compositions the same way I would an oil painting. I like to establish my palette early and block in lights and shadows with large brushes. I try to allow many of these rough sketched in areas to survive through the detail process because I like having the brush strokes visible in areas where I need texture.

The Duel by TsaoShin

The Duel” by TsaoShin

YTD: Any major inspirations and influences?

ERIC: I feel that above all, Disney has served as the biggest source of inspiration for me. Growing up, I watched the Disney Animated Masterpieces on VHS so often that I think I may have worn some of the tapes out. The new movies continue to inspire me along with the films created by Studio Ghibli and Dreamworks. I try to make my way out to Walt Disney World every year!

He Mele No Lilo by TsaoShin

He Mele No Lilo” by TsaoShin

[pullquote]Fantasy is my creative stomping ground and has a large influence on my artwork. I am in love with myth and magic and I tend to be drawn into media that serve up lots of dragons and monsters.[/pullquote]

Night Flight by TsaoShin

Night Flight” by TsaoShin

My cat Grendel works his way into my paintings. He’s a Highland Lynx cat, which means he has a big lanky body, 26 toes, naturally curled ears, and a short stumpy tail. He looks like a miniature black bear that acts like a puppy. I model many of my fantasy illustrations around his look and behavior.


YTD: How do you usually start your day?

ERIC: I’m a terrible morning person so I can’t pinpoint the starts of any of my days. It’s more of a slow haze that comes to focus around lunch. I think there’s a mixture of checking emails and grumbling in there.

YTD: Your on-going series about Grumpy Cat and Disney crossovers is going viral online. Tell us more about it. How did you come up with this idea?

ERIC: I had never actually planned on making the series and in fact the very first one, “Part of Your No” (The Little Mermaid), started as a doodle while I was trying out a new tablet. I was messing around with different brushes to test the tablet and I started drawing out the iconic scene from the movie where Ariel is singing from the rock. I chose it because there were a lot of textures to paint like the water, droplets, and rocks but when I got to the figure I let out a sigh. I find drawing humans difficult so I threw Grumpy Cat in there instead.

Part Of Your No by TsaoShin

Part Of Your No” by TsaoShin

After seeing the result, I laughed, took a screenshot, and texted it to a couple of friends. I was about to delete the sketch when they responded saying that I had to finish it since it was so funny.

Let It No by TsaoShin

Let It No” by TsaoShin

When I uploaded the drawing to deviantART the reaction was extremely positive and reddit, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, 9gag, and a number of other places quickly picked it up. There was a flood of requests to continue the series so I moved on to do “A Whole New No” (Aladdin) and “Circle of No” (The Lion King).

A Whole New No by TsaoShin

A Whole New No” by TsaoShin

Circle Of No by TsaoShin

Circle Of No” by TsaoShin

From there, it kept gaining popularity with more suggestions pouring in on which movies to do next. It was great! I felt like people were really enjoying the series and I was having a great time playing around with all the Disney titles that I loved so much.

Tale As Old As No by TsaoShin

Tale As Old As No” by TsaoShin

YTD: Who is your creative hero?

ERIC: If I can only name one it’s Chris Sanders. His character designs have always had a huge impression on me. Aside from him, many of my heroes are other artists online. I look to people like Todd Lockwood, Robert Bateman, Julie Dillion, Ben Hickling, and Sandara on deviantART.

YTD: You are so popular over the web. Any tips when it comes to sharing your creative work online?

ERIC: It’s amazing how media sharing has enabled artists to reach wide audiences. Try to make sure you’re not living in just one space online or even limiting yourself to art related sites. Branch out to Facebook, tumblr, twitter, and even places like Instagram and YouTube. Don’t be afraid to market yourself.

A Very HTTYD Halloween by TsaoShin

A Very HTTYD Halloween” by TsaoShin

Take the time to touch base with the people who follow you, answer questions, make videos of your process, and appreciate the audience that you’ve gathered. It goes a long way.

YTD: Your works are mostly about cute characters from animated movies, Anime and cartoons. Is childhood a big part of your art?

ERIC: Definitely. I’ve always loved the far off places that I imagined as a child and I don’t want to lose that sense of wonder as an adult. I try to take the time to enjoy life so I built up the spaces in my home to accommodate my appetite for fun. I have an arcade with a number of pinball machines, a billiard room, and a library of comics near my workspace. People might call them distractions, but I call them treasures.

Eevee Banana Splits by TsaoShin

Eevee Banana Splits” by TsaoShin

I try to measure my life by how often I laugh, the places I go, and the memories I make with my friends and family. I want to make sure my artwork translates that joy to my audience.

YTD: Do you have mentors along the way?

ERIC: My mentors were other artists online. Before my current digital painting path, I frequently participated in collaborative paintings with other artists in programs like GroupBoard and PaintChat. These early digital painting tools were invaluable since they allowed you to watch the process of another artist unfold in real time.

Those early years I spent watching other talented painters shaped how I paint today. Even today I find that watching videos, live streams, and tutorials from other digital painters has been the biggest boon for my personal growth.

Fionna and Marshall Lee by TsaoShin

Fionna and Marshall Lee” by TsaoShin

YTD: What’s your biggest achievement so far?

ERIC: When I appear at conventions, people see my artwork and tell me how they’ve already seen it all over the Internet. It’s an amazing feeling to know that I can be recognized by my themes and style. I love watching people’s reactions to my paintings or someone will grab a friend so they can laugh together at my Grumpy Cat series. It humbles me to see my artwork bring that much joy to so many people.

YTD: Let us know your random favorites:

TV SHOW: Really digging Game of Thrones. Dragons!

FOOD: Anything with lots of spice or any food on a stick.

ANIMATED MOVIE: How to Train Your Dragon. More Dragons!

BOOK: Hope for the Flowers

SONG: “Starlight” – Muse

YTD: A piece of advice to aspiring artists out there.

ERIC: Never let frustration overcome your love for art. Look to your mentors and idols as inspiration but don’t compare their achievements with your own growth. Too often I’ve seen artists lose their determination because they see the distance between themselves to the successes of others.

When Will My No Begin by TsaoShin

When Will My No Begin” by TsaoShin
[pullquote]Trying to compare yourself to the top will ultimately leave you feeling dissatisfied. Instead, focus on your own world. Let your inspirations guide you but not command you. Eventually you’ll find your voice and style, and the people who love it.[/pullquote]

YTD: Thank you Eric for spending some time with us. Where can we find more of your works?

ERIC: It was my pleasure! You can find me at DeviantART, Facebook, and on my website . You can also catch me in person at a number of east coast conventions where I am a vendor. Check my convention tour schedule on deviantART.


SEE ALSO: Realistic Pokemon Drawings by RJ Palmer

Got inspired? Share us your thoughts through the comments below and might as well suggest some artist(s) you want us to feature next!

Have a great creative day ahead!