[Exclusive Interview] Artist Cinthia James on Book Treasure Found - An Art Journey and Inspiration from ATEEZ

Ciera Reeves

Illustration and pattern designer and passionate K-pop fan Cinthia James who illustrates under the name A Tale of Art has made her debut as an author and art book designer with Treasure Found: An Art Journey on March 1, 2023.

Cinthia currently resides in Berlin, Germany, and has lived in the USA and Switzerland. She graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a Bachelor's in Graphic Design. She has developed her skills in illustration and pattern design by establishing an art process with activities to practice and create new work.

Her aesthetic is distinguished by a playful sophistication with the use of vibrant colors and a touch of naivety, infusing her subject matter with an eclectic beauty that can be seen displayed in the book.

Treasure Found serves as a valuable resource, assisting artists of all levels in honing their craft and consistently creating art. It offers a wide array of advice and activities, from finding fresh sources of inspiration and managing time efficiently to overcoming imposter syndrome. 

Whether you're a beginner seeking direction or an experienced artist in need of a creative boost, this book provides a roadmap for planning and refining your artistic process. With over 90 inspiring images, it encourages regular revisits, making it a wellspring of inspiration to enhance your skills and build a remarkable portfolio.

The book has received distinguished awards and recognition such as National Indie Excellence finalist in How-to, Crafts & Hobbies, Finalist in Best Interior Design at the International Book Awards, and received a Reader's Favorite Seal of a 5-Star Review.

A copy of the book can be purchased on Amazon as a Paperback or Kindle.

KpopWise spoke with Cinthia about her work on the book and of course her love for the dynamic 8-member boy group ATEEZ

What drew you to ATEEZ as a source of inspiration for your art work?

As an illustrator and surface designer, I am constantly seeking sources of inspiration to fuel my creativity. ATEEZ's Treasure Series, in particular, had a profound impact on both the design and narrative of "Treasure Found: An Art Journey." The concept of seeking one's own personal treasure, as explored by ATEEZ, resonated deeply with me. In each chapter of my book, readers embark on a visual art discovery, getting a step closer to uncovering their own artistic treasures. The design elements and narrative structure of the book are carefully crafted to reflect a creative exploration. Drawing inspiration from ATEEZ's music, performances, and visual aesthetics, I sought to capture the essence of their artistry while also expressing my own unique style as an artist. The result is a blend of ATEEZ's influence and my personal artistic vision, creating a book that inspires readers to find their own unique artistic process.

Do you incorporate elements of ATEEZ's music and visual style into your book?

Absolutely! "Treasure Found: An Art Journey" is a visual expedition journal inspired by the captivating music and visual style of ATEEZ. I carefully infused inspiration from their Treasure Series into the design of the book. Each chapter is adorned with intricate pattern designs that follow the sub-concepts of jewels and maps, inspired by the abstract patterns found in aerial landscape views. These patterns, along with diamond pins marking the locations, create a sense of exploration. Moreover, I incorporated keywords from ATEEZ's lyrics and reimagined ideas based on their visual imagery for select illustrations within the book. The result is a unique fusion of ATEEZ's inspiration and my own artistic interpretation, inviting readers to embark on a creative journey of visual art and self-discovery.

What specific design techniques or approaches did you use to capture the essence of ATEEZ in your book?

To capture the essence of ATEEZ in my book, I followed a specific art process that I have outlined in "Treasure Found: An Art Journey." This process begins with creating a creative brief, where I carefully consider and bring together the elements that inspired me most from ATEEZ's Treasure Series. By using a keyword list, which I emphasize in my book, I narrow down the concept and theme of my illustrations. In the case of ATEEZ-inspired illustrations, I often start with note-taking and a creative brief to focus on a specific concept. From there, I utilize keywords to generate ideas that I can bring to life through my illustrations. However, sometimes the creative process can be spontaneous, and if I'm instantly sparked with ideas, I may switch the order and dive directly into illustrating. Along with these techniques, "Treasure Found: An Art Journey" explores other elements of my artistic process, highlighting the versatility and adaptability that can vary from project to project. 

How did you strike a balance between staying true to ATEEZ's aesthetic while still expressing your own unique style as an artist?

Striking a balance between staying true to ATEEZ's aesthetic and expressing my own unique style as an artist was an exciting challenge throughout the creation of my book. While ATEEZ served as a significant inspiration, it was important for me to interpret their aesthetic in my own artistic voice. In terms of the book design, it showcases more of my personal style and interpretation of the inspiration I drew from ATEEZ. However, when it comes to the ATEEZ-inspired illustrations, there are instances where their aesthetic shines through vividly, such as in my illustration for "Guerilla." On the other hand, there are illustrations where I took their concepts and reimagined them, infusing my own artistic perspective into the visual interpretation. This reinterpretation process is similar to how ATEEZ presents their music and visual aesthetic, always bringing a fresh and unique approach to their craft. In a way, they are like the most non-pirate Pirates out there, constantly pushing boundaries and reinventing themselves. By striking this balance, I aimed to pay tribute to ATEEZ's artistry while maintaining the authenticity of my own artistic style.

As a fan, who's your bias? 

As a fan of ATEEZ, it's difficult for me to choose just one bias. Both HongJoong and San have captured my attention with their unique talents and captivating presence. HongJoong's boundless creativity and compassionate nature inspire me, while San's relentless work ethic and constant pursuit of growth serve as a motivation. Ultimately, in ATEEZ, "8 makes 1 Team," and I appreciate the collective talent and synergy of the group as a whole.

What challenges did you face while working on this book project, and how did you overcome them?

Working on this book project was a labor of love that presented its fair share of challenges along the way. Balancing a full-time job while writing, designing, and illustrating the book meant dedicating countless evenings and weekends to bring my vision to life. There were moments of self-doubt when I questioned whether I could finish the book or if it would ever see the light of day. The initial rejections from publishers were disheartening, but they fueled my determination to pursue self-publishing as an alternative route.

Imposter syndrome also made its presence known, as I questioned my qualifications and wondered if I was the right person to write a book. These doubts and uncertainties were a significant hurdle to overcome. However, I found solace in the creative process itself and the belief that my ideas and experiences were worth sharing with others.

To overcome these challenges, I took it day by day, focusing on each step of the process and not giving up, even in the face of obstacles. The inspiration and motivation I drew from ATEEZ's music, particularly their empowering mantra of "Just keep it up," played a significant role in reminding me to stay resilient and persevere.

Finishing the book, self-publishing it, and receiving recognition as a finalist in prestigious awards affirmed that the challenges were indeed worth it. 

Can you share some examples of your favorite art pieces from the book and explain why they resonate with you?

Certainly! I have several favorite art pieces from "Treasure Found: An Art Journey" that hold a special place in my heart. One of them is an illustration inspired by ATEEZ's "Turbulence." In this piece, the figure is surrounded by swirling paper planes, symbolizing the chaos and challenges of life. However, what resonates with me is the sense of resilience and determination depicted by the figure, who has protected herself with a suit, helmet, and goggles. This illustration speaks to the concept of storytelling in my book, emphasizing the idea that even in the face of turbulence, we can equip ourselves with the necessary tools to navigate through challenges and emerge stronger.

Another set of illustrations that I particularly cherish are those found in the chapter dedicated to self-doubt. These illustrations, predominantly featuring shades of black and red, convey a darker tone but also capture the essence of beauty within vulnerability. They provide a visual representation of the internal struggles and doubts that artists often face.

Lastly, I would like to highlight my paper doll illustration inspired by ATEEZ's "The Real." This particular piece holds a special nostalgic charm for me, as it taps into my childhood love for playing with paper dolls. This digital illustration allows me to have fun and explore different outfit changes, adding an interactive element to the design. 

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are looking to create unique and captivating artwork inspired by their favorite music artists?

My advice to aspiring artists is simple yet powerful: Just keep it up! In my book, "Treasure Found: An Art Journey," I emphasize the importance of establishing an artistic process that allows for growth and self-expression.This can help you learn to dissect lyrics, visual imagery, and elements of your favorite artists' work, and using them as inspiration while staying true to your own artistic voice. 

However, above all, my most important advice is to draw what you love. Follow your passion and create art that speaks to your heart. 

How has this project impacted your growth and development as an artist?

This project has had a profound impact on my growth and development as an artist. It has allowed me to explore new artistic territories, expand my creative boundaries, and refine my skills as an illustrator and surface designer. Through the process of creating "Treasure Found: An Art Journey," I gained a deeper understanding of the importance of storytelling through visuals and the ability to evoke emotions through illustrations. The project has also connected me with fellow artists and inspired new ideas for future projects. Overall, it has been a transformative experience that has fueled my passion for art and propelled my creative growth.

Are there any particular trends or techniques that you see emerging in the world of art, and how do you think they will shape the industry in the coming years?

One notable trend in art and illustration is the rise of immersive and interactive experiences. Artists are exploring techniques such as interactive installations, augmented reality, and motion graphics to create captivating visual narratives. This trend allows for a more engaging and participatory viewing experience, blurring the boundaries between traditional art forms and multimedia.

Additionally, there is a parallel trend in surface design where there is a growing appreciation for handcrafted and handmade elements. Artists are embracing the imperfections and unique qualities of hand-drawn and handcrafted illustrations and patterns. This trend reflects a desire for authenticity and individuality, as well as a shift towards sustainability and eco-consciousness. 

What's next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects or goals that you'd like to share?

My journey continues with an array of exciting projects on the horizon. Firstly, I'm thrilled to announce that I'm already in the early stages of working on my second book, which will delve deeper into the realm of inspiration and artistic exploration. I'm eager to share more insights, techniques, and personal anecdotes with fellow artists and readers. Additionally, I have a coloring book in the works, offering a meditative and creative outlet for art enthusiasts of all ages. Looking ahead, my aspiration is to collaborate with brands and fellow artists, fostering creative partnerships that push the boundaries of design and storytelling. I'm committed to continuing my growth as an artist and inspiring others on their own artistic journeys.


Follow Cinthia James 




A very special thank you to Cinthia for the interview! 

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