Dadu Shin Interview

Illustrator Dadu Shin

Dadu Shin was born and raised in Massachusetts. After attending the Rhode Island School of Design(RISD), he moved to New York City and is now working as a freelance illustrator. He has worked for such clients as The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Plansponsor, and Simon & Schuster. He loves the city, but one day hopes to move to the remote country side of New Zealand to herd sheep and chop his own firewood.





Q1.   How do you approach starting a new project?

Starting projects is always hard.  Once I start I can get into a good rhythm, but sitting down and starting is always tough. I’ve been working on and changing up my process for a long time now.

These days I always start out doodling, whether it’s for an editorial assignment, a gallery show, or a personal project. I usually end up with a random assortment of little drawings and half-articulated ideas.  I choose the ideas I feel have the most potential and do another round of small drawings and develop them further.  After I feel like I know exactly what I’m trying to say with the image, or if I feel like a concept is finally working, I start drawing the actual finished sketches.

I have stacks of drawing pads that are filled with nonsense that probably no one would understand.  I try to get everything that’s in my head on to paper first, then I’ll start to connect the dots.

Hackonomics Sketch By Dadu Shin

Hackonomics Final By Dadu Shin

Q2.   Weapon of choice (favorite materials)?

Pencil has always been a very good to me, but I do love ink, watercolor, gouache and acrylic. I really like mixing different materials. When I go out sketching I always have: .7mm lead mechanical, 2B, 4B, kneaded eraser, black and red pen, brush pen. I used to be really into certain brands of pencils and paints but lately I’ve started to care less and less about the brands I use, especially when it comes to sketchbooking.

Dadu Shin's Studio
FREEPLAY_1stDoodlePage by Dadu Shin

Q3.   Do you have a favourite place outside of your workspace that you like to go to sketch?

I love to sketch while watching TV. It’s great to zone out at the coffee table, put some bad television on, and do some silly/terrible drawings.  I just need to make sure I don’t zone out for too long. Also for these last few months I’ve gone out sketching with my friends and fellow illustrators Robyn Ng, Victo Ngai, and Wesley Allsbrook.  All three of them have an enormous amount of talent when it comes to the raw act of drawing, so it’s pretty inspiring to see them work. We’ve gone to the Natural History Museum and the MET, both amazing places to go sketching.


Q4.   Your favourite procrastination pastime?

Just going to list some things here…Going through art/design books and blogs, staring out the window for extended periods of time, playing with my cat because I can never say no to her “pet me” face, video games, playing the same songs over and over on the guitar, conversing with my roommates, taking walks around NYC…oh and I almost forgot, eating!

fashion sketches by Dadu Shin

Q5.   What do you like to listen to while you’re working?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleet Foxes, Little Dragon, Bon Iver, and my friend’s band Aunt Martha. However today, I’ve had the Drive soundtrack on repeat. I’ve also been getting back into podcasts. I really like This American Life and am really glad they have all their past episodes up on their site.

I also find illustration related podcasts to be really great to listen to while working. Escape from Illustration Island and SIDEBAR nation both have great interviews with some amazing people. Hearing people talk about their work and careers inspires me to keep on working and resist the temptation to go to the kitchen and open the fridge as if something new has suddenly appeared since my last visit.

Dadu Shin's Studio
Dadu Shin's Studio

Q6.   What are some of your sources of inspiration?

There are so many places, I really think that everything that happens in your life is a source of inspiration. That really general answer said, I’ve really been inspired by magazine design lately. It’s such an amazing thing when you see great design in a magazine. Content that is laid out properly is that much more interesting and informative.

Dadu Shin's Studio

Dadu Shin's Studio

Upgrades by Dadu Shin

Huge thanks to Dadu for providing so many awesome photos and for taking the time to do this interview.

Dont forget to stop by Dadu’s site!

All images ©2011 Dadu Shin


  1. Awesome work, as always. And your hair looks so good in the first photo! …Almost too good…

  2. I want to send you an award for most helpful inteenrt writer.

  3. #36 JD, if he keeps shooting like he is, he’ll get 50.I can’t see the game (watching GameCast), but it seems like KB24 is taking WAAYYYY to many shots, or is Devin Brown on him??

  4. I told my kids we’d play after I found what I needed. Damnit.

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