Profile – Joel Seah – รข

Joel Seah is a printmaker who is making full use of the potentials offered by the digital domain.

Growing up in a Chinese family in Singapore, where emphasis was placed
on occidental thought, Joel’s work has evolved as: “the ideal process
through which he can interrogate the dichotomies of Eastern and Western
that have shaped my outlook, both personally and artistically”.

Maiden Voyage

His knowledge of Chinese culture comes from research rather than first hand experience,

“I identify with the Chinese-American playwright David Henry Huang’s
observation that the paradox of being Chinese today means rediscovering
what it means to be Chinese today”, said Seah. However, it can also be
observed that the ethnicity in this statement may be substituted for
any other. The continuous displacement from and reconnection to the
sense of belonging is a journey that most people undergo, in one form
or another, in an increasingly globalized society. He realized it is
certainly not unique to being ethnically Chinese.


Joel is building a vocabulary of images and symbols that will allow him
to reconstruct this universal experience from what is particular and
specific to his own experience in “discovering what it means to be
Chinese today”. His studio practice has involved collecting found,
video taped and photographed images relating to the idea of Diaspora
from widely disparate sources, and then juxtaposing these images in
different contexts. By manipulating the images in this manner, Joel
reassesses through visual dialogue and interaction, their associated
meanings and their relation to the reconstructions of place and space.
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze states: “only that which is alike
differs and only differences are alike”. Joel’s work attempts to
redefine, rather than resolve, the disparities of identity difference.

Terra Firma

Formal training as a printmaker has influenced his exploration into
digital technologies including high resolution scanning, video capture,
digital image manipulation, as well as a variety of print output and
transfer methods. He explores ways in which these can be used to
reconstruct the process of documentation and memory as it pertains to
the ideas of immigration and dislocation. Translating and transforming
imagery through different media over a period of time conceptually
mimics the physical process of migration. Transporting imagery between
virtual and physical states, graphically and metaphorically maps the
changes that occur.

To this end, Joel has been particularly drawn to an Encad gelatin-coated paper
on which archival pigment dyes or vegetable dyes can be printed using
ink jet printers. The printed images on this paper are transient and
upon placing a receiving damp sheet of paper over the image on the
gelatin-coated paper, and running them through a printing press to
exert pressure, the image re-hydrates and transfers to the receiving
sheet. This monotype process allows the perceived sterile aesthetic of
digitally produced work to obtain a surface that is organic, tactile
and marked by human touch and accident. This allows Joel to print on
various fine art and specialty papers, like rice paper, that might not
directly go through the printer. It also introduces the chance
happenings that are so important in fine art printmaking, and also
makes each print individual.

“Still Waters” – Top is the original
digital file and below it the printed work.By using a transfer process
Joel creates a digital print will all the individuality and physicality
of any traditional fine art print. By working this way Joel can use
truly wonderful papers and away from the ‘clinical’ perfection of the
conventional digital print.

“In continuing to reconsider and confront my own perceptions towards
methodologies and attitudes in creating, I wish to pursue the ideas and
processes outlined in this statement as well as other questions that
emerge as I develop as an artist both critically and professionally”,
says Seah.

True North


Terra Nova

David Ho

David Ho is a digital artist who creates very painterly images using Poser.
I became aware of David Ho’s art work preparing our coverage of the
2001 International Digital Art Awards. Again, while judging the 2002
IDAA this time, his work jumped out at me and screamed for attention.
Dealing with the inner, esoteric and personal aspects of life, David’s
work lives up to his motto: “the duty of an artist lies in making the
metaphysical physical”.

David is an American, born in New Jersey. At a young age he moved to
Taipei, Taiwan and awas there before moving back to the US during his
early teens to Northern California, where he lives to this day. Doing a
sociology degree at Berkeley, after graduation he decided to become an
artist so did another undergraduate degree in Art History and Fine Arts
at San Jose State University. So the sociology degree, and probably the
psychology studies that were part of it, plus the fine art degree has
provided the melting pot from which David creates his art. He works as
a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.

David Ho has been creating these digital fantasies for the past 8 years
now. He creates them for one reason only – to quiet his demons. Making
art is a form of self-therapy for him. He works on the Power Mac
utilizing software like Photoshop, Poser and Bryce. Many of the
textures you see in his works are traditionally created and later
scanned into the computer from his flatbed scanner. His works have
appeared in numerous publications including the Society of Illustrators
annuals, Spectrum Annuals, Design Graphics Portfolio issue, Chicago
Tribune, MacWorld Expo digital gallery, Step-by-Step illustration
annual, Applied Arts illustration annuals and more.

David’s way of working is most interesting. David uses Curious Lab’s
Poser and Corel’s Bryce to create his scenes in 3D. The rendered images
are then taken into Photoshop. Here David drops all the colour out of
his images, by converting to monochrome and then back to colour. Here
he adds textures, which he often paints conventionally and scans on a
flatbed scanner. By working in monochrome at this stage it allows him
to concentrate on composition, texture and lighting without the
distraction of colour. Once David is happy with the result he then hand
paints in colour (so easy to do digitally by painting colour on a
separate layer and setting the blending mode appropriately), taking
care to only enhance the message of the image by the subtle use of

Learning More

For those interested in learning more about his work you can visit his web site at

David also has a book out of his work, Shadow Maker – the digital art of david ho.

This book is a MUST READ. In 192 pages there are over 100 full colour
illustrations that do a wonderful job of showing his work. Unusually
for a book by a digital artist, David provides a five page step-by-step
guide to how he creates his images. I say unusually because most
artists are pretentious and secretive about how they do their work.
David is a truly nice guy and it comes over in his book. You can learn
a lot from this book.

I would call this one of the must have books of the year. You can buy
it direct from David via his web site and I notice it
can also be bought from Help an artist who does great work
and buy a copy.