Work / Illustration

Saiman Chow adopts a psychedelic vibe for his editorial illustrations

“Doing editorial work is a lot like going to bootcamp. Once you hit the ground, you have to run as fast as you can in 24–30 hours and hopefully get to the finish line in one piece,” says illustrator Saiman Chow on his editorial commissions. “There’s no time to overthink it and despite the time constraints, it’s a great way to train yourself to trust your intuition.”

Saiman has created work for Pitchfork, MIT Technology Review and The New Yorker among others, and back in April we featured the Adult Swim animated idents he created for the new series of Rick and Morty. Both Saiman’s editorial and motion work adopts an “anti-style approach” in that the creative avoids becoming too “reliant on a single aesthetic or methodology” and instead experiments with new methods to keep up his inspiration.

For Saiman, working on editorial is all about problem solving. Using bright, pastel colours, Saiman often layers together shapes and gradients to add a 3D-feel in a 2D setting for his characters to navigate. From depicting abstract topics including creative flow and virtual bullies, there’s a trippy, psychedelic flavour to Saiman’s work.

When given a brief, the illustrator starts by reading the article at least ten times to get the information in his head. “Next I move to pencil and paper sketches, then to black and white digital sketches. Once the sketch is approved, there is usually less than 12 hours for the image,” says Saiman. “For some, this timeframe might work, but for me it’s a real rush – I usually stay up all night to finish the job and meet the deadline. It’s brutal but somehow also satisfying to finish something so quickly.”


Saiman Chow: Coachella magazine


Saiman Chow: Pitchfork


Saiman Chow: Pitchfork


Saiman Chow: Pitchfork


Saiman Chow: MIT Technology Review