I love telling stories through art.
Growing up in China and New Zealand, I’m fortunate to have been exposed to great artists and works from many diverse cultures. Whether it’s a piece of illustration, sculpture, literature, comic, animation, film or videogame, a great narrative experience never fails to inspire my imagination.
Art has also taught me a lot about empathy and observation. Great art engages us all on an emotional level, sparks new ideas and reflects the world around us (whether in a realistic or fantastical manner). The process of both experiencing and creating art provides me with a greater understanding of myself and own my creative voice.
Some of my personal favourite subject matters are dreams, memories, and the connections between people. As a nightly dreamer, I enjoy exploring my subconscious mind and adapting elements of these experiences to my personal work.
Recently, I’ve shifted towards a more freeform explorative method of painting. It’s quite satisfying to combine the spontaneous/ unpredictable feeling of working traditionally, with the flexibility of digital painting.
I typically begin by overlaying old artworks or interesting textures on top of one-another and remixing the pieces until an abstract textural groundwork is formed. I then try to identify interesting patterns and shapes, contextualising them into more representational visual and narrative elements. Working this way feels more natural to me as it bears a closer resemblance to the process of how our imagination operates. Rather than projecting a living world onto a blank canvas, I sift through my mind connecting interesting thoughts and memories. This conceptual phase where ideas take shape will always be my favourite part of the creative process – nothing is pre-determined and the journey is always full of surprises. The most difficult aspect of this method is actually knowing when to stop – before too much of the interesting abstraction, texture and ‘raw-ness’ become lost to rendering of details.
By embedding my personal experiences, feelings and ideas into new worlds, characters and stories, I hope to create truly emotionally engaging artistic narrative experiences.
Of course, achieving this certainly isn’t easy. As an artist, not only do we have to keep the muse of inspiration happy and the beasts of procrastination in check, we’re also challenged by the balance between creative independence and self-sustainability. Over the years, alongside freelance illustration, I have pursued life as an indie artist through personal work as well as collaborations with like-minded artists. In 2013, with the support of our local arts community I founded Chromacon – an indie arts festival which aims to share our work and creative process with the wider community. I’ve always believed that once created, our fantastical worlds and stories shouldn’t simply exist in a void. Like a baby born to the world, as creators we share a responsibility to make sure our art reaches its full potential.
As a New Zealander, I feel incredibly privileged to be growing and creating alongside my fellow Kiwi artists and indie creatives from around the world – may we all continue to explore new imaginative horizons!