When you look at the illustrations of the Canadian artist Terry Fan, you can’t help but dream—of childhood memories and fantasy worlds, somewhere between a Jules Verne novel, a Christmas tale and Gulliver’s Travels. First drawn by hand and the digitally reworked, his delicate, yet whimsical creations ignite our imaginations and invite us to dream. We sat down with him over a glass of red wine to learn more about his fantastical worlds.

Hi Terry, what’s your favourite drink at Happy Hour?

Usually, I just like to enjoy a good glass of red wine, but sometimes I’ll have a cocktail. My cocktail of choice would be either a margarita or a gin & tonic.

From writing to painting to sculpting, you’re a man of many talents. What’s your favourite medium?

My favourite medium is graphite pencil on paper, because of the softness and subtlety of the details. I like how a line can be somewhat undefined in a pencil drawing, and the way you can experiment with forms and shapes more.

How do you create your illustrations?

I normally start with an illustration in pencil or with a ballpoint. Then I scan the image in high resolution and import it into Photoshop, where I do the colouring.

The celestial and submarine worlds of your illustrations have a fairy-tale feeling. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everything happening around me—all my experiences inspire me, especially my childhood. It’s difficult to pinpoint a particular thing because really, pretty much anything can capture my imagination.


What emotions are you trying to arouse in your audience?

It depends on the design, but I often try to evoke a sense of mystery and peace. My creative work has a therapeutic aspect to it, which is probably why I’m attracted to worlds and environments that allow me to escape reality.

There’s something inherently nostalgic about analogue photographs.

You have a penchant for old, analogue photographs. What role do they play in your creative work?

I think that has to do with my age. My early life was spent without digital media and all the memories I have from those formative years were recorded in analogue photos. There’s something inherently very nostalgic about analogue photographs. Just that fact that they are physical objects, subject to the passage of time, while at the same time representing a moment of that passage. There’s a certain intimacy to holding a photograph in one’s hands that’s sort of lost with digital media.

What are you doing when you’re not drawing?

It seems as if that’s all I ever do, but usually, if I have any downtime, it’s spent either cooking, reading or walking along the boardwalk down by the lake. I also confess to watching my fair share of Netflix and am sadly addicted to the online game Hearthstone. I realise I’m a bit old to be playing Hearthstone, but it’s a welcome form of stress relief and I've always been a sucker for strategic games.

What did you dream of last night?

To be honest it was more of a nightmare and I woke up drenched in sweat. I don’t remember what was about, but that’s probably a good thing.

Elephants or whales?




Text: Diane Mironesco
Translation: Nicholas Potter