“Be someone of value. We all get a chance at life to not be regular.”
Dom Lay was born 1994 and raised in Fountain Valley, California and later moved to Irvine, California in the summer of 2000.
Growing up in a suburban environment as an only child, Dom has incorporated his influences and inspirations from movies, television, and entertainment media throughout his life, into his works today. His passion for illustration, concept art, and storytelling landed him freelance experience while studying, both in community and private college. Using the foundations of strong narrative focus in his pieces, allows him to connect with his viewers on a more emotional level. In this way, it gives his audience a chance to explore his artworks and concepts more carefully and deeply. He entered his first year at Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California in the spring of 2017. He used this opportunity in college to further jumpstart his career as an artist. From there, at the age of 22, he developed more of his artistic skills and began the process of writing and worldbuilding. He pieced together his very first solo intellectual property, titled Journey to the East. It is a 168-page artbook, which revives ancient Middle Eastern cultures, the Orientalist time period and includes a hint of science fiction. The book has now sold around the world in many countries including the US, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and many parts of Europe. While working on his book, new opportunities opened up for him to work on projects with other well-known artists and art directors such as the Xentropa creator, John Mahoney. He also worked briefly at Nexon OC, collaborating with Anthony Jones, Ryan Metcalf, and Jeff Simpson. Working in the entertainment industry for big studios as a concept artist had been Dom’s initial choice for a while, but seeing the possibility of creating something of his own and being able to inspire hundreds of people, including industry artists, had led him to pursue the path of becoming an independent artist and budding entrepreneur. He is currently working on his second artbook titled, Blu November, and on the side, he instructs and mentors students of all ages in the foundations of concept art and illustration, in order to develop their voice and portfolio for their artistic careers. Even with his abilities he has been fortunate and grateful to be pursuing art as his career and to help pave the path for the newer, younger generation of artists.
Dom Lay is a creator of fierce and beautiful new universes. In his hands, he holds the magic to transport us, almost immediately, to cool worlds mixed with elegance and wonder. There is a tinge of romance to his pieces, even the ones that seem to slightly depict a sort of dystopian society. His color palette, soft strokes and precise shadowing allows for a special depth to his storytelling and can enrapture our imaginations. While inspecting his pieces, one can almost hear the buzzing of the town and its people, or catch a secret conversation being had behind some pillars. All these qualities make Lay’s art remarkable and exciting.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career?
A. Some of my highlights in my artistic career thus far have been selected and featured in ImagineFX
Magazine’s August issue as a workshop artist explaining the process behind one of my digital
paintings. One of my paintings was also on display at the OC Fair Art Exhibition Hall in Laguna College
of Art and Design’s booth in the Summer of 2019. In February of 2020, I was asked to do an
interview by VoyageLA Magazine to discuss a little bit about my life and insights. I don’t consider
myself to be a very big artist, and I am not well known in the ‘industry’ but to be chosen for some of
these opportunities still bewilders me at times and I am honestly very grateful for them.
Q. What role does the Artist have in society?
A. I believe the artist’s role in society is to help motivate and inspire people when the chips are down
or to help someone reach their goals as an artist. In a world where we are usually surrounded by
negative events seen on the news, or the mundaneness of life, it is the artist’s job to create worlds
for people to escape to that are not always possible to be seen in reality. Regardless of what critics
say, art is necessary in the world to make it a better place through different forms of visual media
like movies, animation and video games. Artists have the ability to change a person’s perspective on
things as well.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. Back when I was between the ages of 6-10 years old, I would always hang out at my cousin’s place
while my mom was at work. We would hook up the PlayStation and play Street Fighter all day long.
Sometimes we would pitch up tents in the living room to play in and pretend we’re out someplace in
the woods. I do miss those moments.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. Ever since I was young, I never thought about being an artist. I did not have any specific goal for
my career path, but it was mostly what my family members wanted me to become, which was a
doctor or lawyer. Anything to bring in lots of money. But as I grew a bit older my tastes had changed,
and I wanted to do something that could align with my skills and abilities, to help people in some
way. Not to just earn a large income with no real greater purpose behind it. And I wanted to fulfil
that by becoming an artist to inspire and serve others through my work. It was something I was
completely invested in and extremely passionate about.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I don’t exactly have a fond memory when it comes down to my first art piece, but I did start
drawing very young. I drew a lot in the third grade. Spiderman was one of my favorite superheroes
so I would always draw pictures of him from the comics my dad brought to me. He would also bring
me comics by the famous Belgian cartoonist Hergé who created the Tintin series, and I would
reference and draw from the panels.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. My interest in art, concept art specifically at the time, was first realized in the year 2014 when I
was 20 years old. During that period, I was struggling to find a career path that suited me. I was in a
lot of conflict because I was bouncing back and forth between being either a computer science
engineer or a graphic designer, none of which I had interests for. It was until I came across FZD
School on YouTube which stands for Feng Zhu Design School, that I was finally introduced into
concept art. From there I continued my path to developing that trade.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. My art is meant to take people on a journey with me, and to new places. I don’t see one image on
its own as something special but rather, the entire body of work when it comes together in a series. I
feel like I’m constantly on an adventure with my artwork, always asking myself, which location
should I paint next or which character should I create to tie into the main story. I am always
experimenting with these types of subject matter for my projects. I am constantly having a blast
creating my worlds and taking my audience into them.
Q. What medium(s) do you work with
A. I work mostly in the digital art medium on my computer these days, but I am not a stranger to
traditional mediums as well. I used to draw most of my art pieces in charcoal but now I have
switched to pilot pens.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I wouldn’t necessarily say this trait has gotten me in trouble but having my words and actions
twisted and misinterpreted has made people dislike me a few times. However, they have been
resolved. Sometimes I will share something publicly that is meant to motivate or inspire someone
who needs the encouragement, and other strangers who I do not personally know will think it is a
direct attack against them. It is never my intention to make anyone feel less than or unworthy. I’m
always doing my best to uplift someone and propel someone forward in life since I myself have been
in a spot where I had no ambition or purpose to strive for before. I want to be able to make a
difference in someone else’s life with the knowledge I’ve acquired through my experiences.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. A lot of time and energy I would say. Many people who go into this career have had to sacrifice
their relationships and family, but I’m fortunate enough to still stay connected with some of my
peers and family members. I have also had to sacrifice a lot of sleep in my early days working on my
craft. The art life requires that put in the hours for there to be some type of impact. For your work to
become well known and to then get paid for it. Otherwise. you might as well just do it for yourself,
and not earn a living from it.
Q. Who are your biggest influences, are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in
A. There are quite a lot of influences to count. Craig Mullins and John Park, both very skilled and
talented concept artists, have been at the forefront of my artistic inspirations. Just their way of
utilizing impressionistic mark making in their work inspired me to do the same in mine. I have always
loved the works of the old and current masters and taking inspiration from them too.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I would definitely be lying if I said it wasn’t lonely, but there are many things I do to push back
from the loneliness that artists can suffer from. Oftentimes I will have periods where I don’t paint or
draw anything and just go outside to reconnect with friends or spend time with my family and
exercise in my downtime. However, I actually thrive more being alone, since I am naturally more of
an introverted person. I know how to enjoy my time alone and be perfectly fine without company.
When I need to regroup, I will find people to talk to.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. If I’m not doing art, I am usually outside jump roping, rollerblading, or going for a walk in nature. I
love video games, and I will play them when my time allows me to. I hang out with my friends on
some days to take a break from the stresses of art. Lately, meditation and prayer has also been
helping me to regain my sense of self again.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. My philosophy is that you should never take art too seriously, especially when it comes down to
getting a job. Always have fun in the process and enjoy creating things that resonate with you. Slow
down while creating, and savor each piece you create. I feel that if you create art purely just for
work reasons you will never enjoy art long term, you will eventually lose that motivation to create
over time. I say, let your passion reel in the job for you, don't chase it. And if you need quick money,
don't be ashamed to work a normal non-art job that pays the bills. Some of my peers have given up
and quit the art game entirely. This is why it is so important to cultivate a personal side project.
Burnout is a very real thing, and it sets in extremely quickly. In addition, never do art just for selfish
reasons, especially if your plan is to make an impact in the world. Think and care about the people
who look up to you as well and be an influence on them. Make your art more appealing and create
art for you and your audience to enjoy, especially if you want to grow your community. This goes for
tailoring your art towards a studio too.
Q. What does "success" mean to you?
A. I believe success means you have reached a point where you have hit a big milestone that
changes the trajectory of your life completely. Some of the old habits and ways you have adopted
are still there, but you experience a new horizon that you’ve never felt before. But success is
subjective for anyone and can be as simple as finishing up reading a book or writing an essay. I see
big success as something a person achieves in a profound way that even surprises themselves.
Everyone notices it. Sometimes you will slowly lose friends. Some people will hate you and some
people will admire you once you feel that success, however that is a completely normal part of the
process and it is best to just keep pushing on.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. The biggest thing I’ve learned in life is to always help someone out and be kind to whoever you
have a conversation with. Never be a jerk when talking to someone because they will remember
what you said about them. In a world where a lot of people suffer from depression, anxiety, and other negative mindsets, it’s important to be a light to them and offer assistance when they need or ask for it. And if someone is in a position where they are stuck in life, it’s a good idea to be a helping hand and push them to where they need to go. I believe kindness is power and when given to someone, you will bear greater rewards in the future.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The best piece of advice I have gotten, especially growing up, had to have come from my parents.
Growing up in a poverty-stricken background they have always told me that if I ever wanted to get anything in life, I had to work hard for it. Nothing great in life ever comes easy. Their stories of surviving hardship made me never take life for granted. Living in the United States, I feel super blessed to be able to build the path that I want and to go after what I set my mind to. Pray to God often and pray to Him to carry me through any challenges and difficulties that are in the way, this was something they always reminded me. I have never let go of that to this day.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Stay out of trouble, stay motivated, and strive for greatness and excellence in your life. Always be grateful for the things you have now and help other people out. Work on improving yourself no matter what and do your best to develop discipline early on. Oftentimes we can slip into complacency and that can lead to a bleak worldview in life later down the road. Keep your head up in times of adversity, block out drama-filled people and naysayers in your life, and never be quick to give up, because the storm will eventually pass. Be someone of value. We all get a chance at life to not be regular.