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Turning adversity into art: an interview with Lance “Khan” Jones

February 21, 2024
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Lance “Khan” Jones is a solo creative entrepreneur who has been working in the live streaming space since 2017. Through Khan Art & Design, they’ve worked with thousands of clients from Amazon Games to Twitch streamers with less than 100 followers. They share their process nightly via their Twitch channel and assist newer creators in jump-starting their creative journey. Check out their work on their website, YouTube, Twitch channel, X (Twitter), TikTok, or Instagram, or support them on their Patreon.

Khan is going to be presenting a workshop at the upcoming Virtuous Con 2024, an interactive, online sci-fi and comic culture convention that celebrates the excellence of BIPOC creators in speculative fiction across the media of comics, books, film, visual arts, and more. Wacom is proud to be a sponsor of Virtuous Con!

In advance of the event, we spoke to Khan about their creative journey, their work, and what attendees can expect at the event. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. There’s also information about Virtuous Con and how to attend at the bottom of this blog post!


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Your journey into a creative career is unique. How did you get to what you’re doing now?

I began my artistic journey in my childhood to teen years, but abandoned it in my early 20s to pursue my interest in martial arts and bodybuilding. Unfortunately, my physically active habits were cut down in my mid-30s when I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis. That pretty much left me bedridden for a few months with little use of my muscles, constant double vision, and an inability to eat or drink without choking.

This was one of the most pivotal experiences of my life; it turned a very physical, relatively healthy person of about 200lbs down to about 140-150lbs once the disease took its toll. Luckily, the treatment and surgery helped manage some of the symptoms. And while I was in recovery with little physical outlet, I returned to illustration.

With some of the GoFundMe money that helped pay my mortgage for a few months, I bought a refurbished MacBook Pro and began dabbling in using Photoshop, doing little bits of fan art for my newfound love of the video game Destiny. Through posting my fan art on Twitter, I found a community of artists that helped me explore and nourish my atrophied skill set. It brought me great joy — as well as my first opportunity to actually do creative work for compensation.

Sometimes the lowest point of your life can launch you into where you’ve always wanted to be!

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You do a lot of different types of creative work — from logos to emotes to comics to branding. What inspires you to go in so many directions creatively? Are there pros and cons to diversifying so much?

The best way to describe my work is that I try to craft experiences. Every piece of visual media gives off a vibe. I do my best to craft interesting and engaging vibes. My main “gig” would probably be graphic & motion design, though — logos, promotional materials, etc.

I tend to go in so many directions because it brings me the most joy. Learning and executing creative ideas across different media construct a kind of network of nodes that speak to each other, spawning ideas in my other areas of expertise.

The benefit of knowing about so many different things is that you become a creative “Swiss Army knife,” able to bring most creative ideas at least into a prototype phase. The setback is you can create brand confusion when it comes to potential clients who can’t quite tell what you do as a creative business. Once people get to know me, though, they appreciate the breadth of my skillset.

What inspires you creatively?

For me, inspiration can be gathered from anywhere: the quiet moments alone with my coffee to the latest big-budget film. Inspiration for me is a kind of a cascading river of one idea that forks into several new rivers. I have notes on notes of random ideas — like this one on my pad now that says “Blizzard, yeti, survival horror.” Every moment of my day has its own palette of ideas to paint with.

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What’s your tech setup like?

I’m not the biggest “techie,” per se, but I work mostly within the Mac OS landscape. In terms of software, for illustration, sketching, and animation I use Clip Studio Paint EX. For pixel art and making graphics for my games, I use a great little program called Aesprite.

For the bulk of my graphic design and motion design projects, I use the Adobe Suite. I basically live in Adobe Illustrator for my design work and preparing merch for screenprinting, and After Effects for my motion design jobs. For game development, I code in the open source engine Godot and since I lean towards a retro aesthetic, I model low poly rigs in Blockbench.

In terms of hardware, I’ve been working on a Wacom Cintiq which has served me well for about five years. For streaming, I use a Sony a60 DSLR and a Blue Yeti mic that I’ve been using for close to a decade. This thing is a truck! I like to keep it simple for the most part. If it works well, then I’m happy.

EMOTEPORT

What will you be up to at Virtuous Con? What other presentations or workshops are you excited about?

For Virtuous Con I’ll be putting a little workshop on creating and developing emotes for live streaming services. It’s the first piece of professional work that got my foot in the door as a designer. You can find me via VirtuousCon.com between 11am and 2pm EST on Sunday, February 25th.

I can’t wait to hear my fellow Twitch streamers Karim Cheese and DeeJay Knight speak on Sunday, but I’m also very excited to see Odunze Whyte Oguguo aka Whyt Manga on Saturday, February 24th. Hope to see you there.


Lance Jones Virtuous Con Banner

About Virtuous Con 2024: Black History Month 2024 – The Future is Ours

Virtuous Con is an online sci-fi and comic culture convention that celebrates the excellence of BIPOC creators in speculative fiction across the media of comics, books, film, visual arts, and more. Since its launch in 2020, Virtuous Con has been bringing together an amazing range of Black creators and pioneers in speculative storytelling, including Rodney Barnes, Anika Noni Rose, Danson Njoka, Peter Ramsey, Aida Croal, Wilson Cruz, Alitha Martinez, Marc Bernardin, L.L. McKinney, Beverly Jenkins, Tananarive Due, Stephen Barnes, and many others.

This year’s event focuses on the theme The Future Is Ours, which will focus on the unique role Black creators play as innovators that transcend and elevate our worldview. Virtuous Con 2024 is taking place online from February 23-25, 2024.

Friday, February 23, 2024 | 7:00pm – 9:00pm ET | Free | Livestream Launch Party on Twitch

Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 11:00am – 7:00pm ET

  • Panels from Vashti Harrison, Odunze Whyte Oguguo, N.K. Jemisin, David Steward II, Malcolm Barrett, and more
  • Multiple floors of vendors

Sunday, February 25, 2024 | 11:00am – 7:00pm ET

  • Karim Cheese and DeeJay Knight, Tananarive Due, Lesley Conner, Lance “Khan” Jones, Mikki Kendall, and more
  • Multiple floors of vendors

How to attend

Tickets are on sale for just $30 for both days of the convention. Click here for more information and to get tickets!

Save up to $100 on Wacom Intuos

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