Made By You: Franki Chan

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This article appears in our “Made By You” special edition issue—created in partnership with Converse.

Franki Chan is a prevalent artist that has excelled in a wide range of genres and pursuits. He skillfully creates within the world of music, illustration and writing. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana and spent some of his youth in Japan before settling for a while in Bellingham, WA. His exposure to different cultures and lifestyles allowed him the ability to view art in a variety of ways.

Chan’s most celebrated creation is quite possibly IHEARTCOMIX. IHC is a multi-media company that specializes in events, production and marketing. IHEARTCOMIX also produces original content—including films, television programming and also music. IHC is the perfect embodiment of Chan’s diverse artistic career.

We talked to Franki Chan about his childhood dreams, his time living outside the United States and his advice for young people wanting to follow in his footsteps.

When did you first fall in love with the idea of creation?

It has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. Part of it comes from never being satisfied with what surrounded me and the other part is an overactive imagination. I get so lost in my ideas that reality doesn’t matter. It is just about fulfilling whatever my vision is. It has brought me a lot of joy and also a lot of awkward situations in my life. But I wouldn’t know how else to live.

Did you envision as a kid that you would be living the life you are now and experiencing so much success?

Kind of. Not directly in terms of ‘success’ and I’d argue strongly that I’m still pretty far from being successful. I have always known what I wanted to do since I was a kid. Maybe not the specifics of what I wanted to do but definitely in terms of involving entertainment and following my passion. That has evolved over time from cartoonist, to comedian, to musician, to businessperson—but I’ve landed in a place that kind of incorporates them all.

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You spent some time in Japan during your formative years. What was that experience like for you and how did that help shape you as a man?

I lived there when I was 16 and 17. It was highly influential in terms of who I am and how it shaped me. I had all my major firsts there—first girlfriend, first car, first band, etc. I’d moved to Japan from a small town in Indiana, so it was a big shift and a very eye opening experience. It changed everything for me. I’m still friends with a lot of the people that were part of my life then. That’s not something I can say for every other era of my life.

Did you really have to work hard to develop all your skills or did a lot of your ability come naturally?

The intuition came naturally but I don’t know anyone that has a skill that doesn’t need to practice. It has taken, and continues to take, a lot of hard work to get better.

How do you balance your schedule when you are involved in so many different passions and crafts?

That can be tough and I’m not always successful. I’ve been figuring out how to merge them and how to be disciplined with my time.

With music, art and other artistic pursuits all being passions of yours—does one of your endeavors hold a more special place in your heart than the others?

Illustration and storytelling will always be by far the most important things to me. I have a very rich appreciation for the craft. Especially as I get older, the idea of telling stories is beginning to overtake everything else.

What kind of advice would you give to a young person who may want to follow in your footsteps and build an artistic empire like you have?

Just make sure it’s what you really want. The first and longest love of my life has always been my dreams. They have gotten me through some very rough patches and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to stay around. It’s not an easy thing and definitely not for everyone. Some people get lucky but it’s the work that ultimately counts.

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