Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Navigating Through Uncertainty

Over the past several weeks I've been working on a new project. It stemmed out of a long time interest of mine, which is sewing, but I had never given myself the permission to pursue learning "it" until a few months ago, when I enrolled in some introductory sewing classes at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). It's been an incredible learning experience, and a challenging one as well, trying to manage life, work, and coping with a wavering level of confidence in acquiring a new skill. The last one is probably the most trying of all -- managing confidence; learning to accept the hard work that is involved within the creative process, and understanding that it's filled with moments of hesitation. 
I've begun to talk out loud when I work, especially when I encounter those moments in my process when I doubt the direction that I'm moving in; for some reason, my words when spoken aloud seems to untangle my senses, and lead me out of confusion. I'm learning as I go, and I'm paying attention to the steps that I'm taking, but more than anything, I'm allowing myself to fail, and finding the strength to recover as quickly as I can from the mistakes that I make. It can be exhausting - I've been working 12 to 14 hour days for weeks on end.  Do I have a social life? No, not really. But it's something that I'm willing to compromise in the meantime in order to manifest my vision. It's a bit narcissistic sounding, I know, but it's not meant to be. I'm most happiest when I'm making things, and despite the uncertainty that comes with the process of not knowing, it's this risk, the chance that the next step I take could be the surprising creative resolve that I'm seeking. My former creative writing professor used an analogy of writing as compared to driving in darkness with high-beams to light the way; you can only see a few feet in front of you, but you know that as you continue on this road, it will lead you home. I keep those words close to me whenever I'm working on some creative project that gives rise to my fear and insecurity - it's a reminder to me that the creative process as convoluted and cloudy as it can be sometimes, can result in something wonderful if I stay on course, and navigate through the uncertainty.

* "Navigating Through Uncertainty," for SooJin Buzelli at Plansponsor Magazine Europe, Summer 2012.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Odoyo x Marcos Chin iPhone Cases!

I'm happy to share my iPhone case collaboration with Odoyo. These photos were taken from "Computex," a computer exhibition in Asia. More news about a formal launch date to happen in the coming weeks. Thank you Odoyo

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tshirts for SPANK

Hi everyone! I wanted to share a collaboration that I did with my friends at Spank. Spank hosts some of the hottest art parties that I've been to thus far because it's multi-disciplinary; marrying music with art. Some events have included runway battles, spoken word performances, poetry, sculptural installations, and of course fun music. The boys at Spank have managed to capture the spirit of what I imagine the New York club scene to have been in the 80s. That's why I'm always super excited whenever I'm asked by Spank to participate in any artful collaboration. Above are some photos of the Tshirt I created for Spank - it's a limited edition of 100, 2 colours, on a light grey Tshirt, price is $20. Here's the link to the SPANK STORE where you can purchase it, if you'd like. Happy Summer!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Here Comes GOLD!
I love gold, and wanted to share with you how I print gold onto a white surface while still retaining its metallic quality.
Process: Silkscreen

It's been a learning process trying to figure out how to incorporate silkscreening into my studio practice. It's still super rocky, but things are beginning to shift in a positive direction. I'm still far away from doing large runs, but I'm coming close to figuring out how to keep the quality of the image close to what I envision in my head. Here's a sound-bite of some of what I did today. Just playing around and having fun. I feel like a kid again! Oh, and sorry about the audio, I probably should've turned down the radio.
From The Shelf

Here are some of the inspirational references I go to when I'm working. I don't refer to them all of the time, but these particular books give some insight into where the content of my work originates from, both superficial and conceptual, exterior and interior. Of course, commercially I can't always apply these influences onto the pictures that I draw each time; however, I'd like to believe that sometimes parts of these influences do inform the way that I think while I am creating my work. 
Right now, I'm starting to build an interest in Keith Haring's work. I've been in love with his art for several years now, and admittedly have fantasized numerous times about what it would've been like living and working as an artist in New York thirty years ago, but I understand this fantasy is really rooted in my own ignorance - things always seem rosier through the looking-glass.  Over the past year, I've devoted more time reading about Haring's process, particularly about the work he did before the subversive subway chalk drawings that became the climax of his career, which were his videos, collages, text based, and semiotic work. 
Haring's art is so visual, his patterns seemingly random, and his pictures so happy; this was the initial attraction for me, the superficial quality of his drawings and paintings. But after having read a little bit about his history, I learned that he was much more aware of the relationships between the shapes of black and white that patterned his work. He analyzed the effects of the patterns that he made, how they were perceived as a whole and also how small sections of it related to each other. This evaluative process is so fascinating to me because it inspires me with a new way of seeing, and a new way of making art. 

*From top to bottom: Keith Haring (mug, left); Gilbert and George (mug, right); Hans Silvester, "Natural Fashion, Tribal Decoration from Africa"; Jamel Shabazz, "A Time Before Crack," (80's fashion, when I used to swoon over New Edition and Bel Biv Devoe); Keith Haring's Journals published by Penguin, Yayoi Kusama (she's having an exhibition at the Whitney Museum on June 13th); Shiaparelli & Prada, Impossible Conversations; Ballets Russes, The Art of Costume; Art of Armor, Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Process: Inspiration
I went to the Keith Haring exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum this weekend, and then to a party afterwards called Xanadude hosted by some friends of mine: Sean Be, and DJ Will Automagic from SPANK
I had to. 
Not out of obligation, but because I had to take a break this weekend. 
Keith Haring's artwork, and the boys of SPANK's art-music parties inspire me in a huge way. I've been isolating myself from the world for quite some time now. I don't go out much, and spend most of my time in the studio making things: commercial and personal work. 
Yes, the reason is because I absolutely love what I do, but there is also another obsessive quality about my behaviour that urges for me to keep on working.
Keep on movin' 
Don't stop,
yes --
sometimes I do have to 
I stop when I'm creatively exhausted and need time to focus and come-back-to-centre, so to speak. Inspiration for me is like food; I can feel when it's used up. And so, when this occurs I start to roam around: in my neighborhood, into manhattan; into galleries and exhibitions, I start to read books, and watch documentaries; I listen to other people's stories and talk to friends and acquaintances - should the proper moments arise - about art, illustration and design related stuff. I know this reads as very linear, but it's not meant to, the experiences unfold as they do -- I just try to put myself within a situation where I can possibly experience something new. Or, I try to keep my eyes and ears open in an effort to take in as much information as I can. I write things down a lot during this time, asking myself questions as it pertains to my work, my goals, and my (creative and professional) beliefs.  
I've been asked many times in interviews who and what inspires me. 
The answer:
Other people's stories. 
Yes, of course, I'm interested in art and design and illustration, and a whole slew of other things, but it's really other people's creative processes, and the choices that they make within their own artistic practice that move me the most. 

* The animated gif above is me standing in front of a mural by Keith Haring; the one below is of me standing below some inflatable sculptures by artist Jeffrey Ralston. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Process: Patterns

Here are some videos that I recorded early in the morning yesterday. I've been creatively stumped trying to resolve some issues that I have pertaining to some Tshirts that I'm designing. I know, I know.... Tshirts? I wrote about this before, why even attempt to even do something that's so ubiquitous, completely overdone, especially when the financial return is so slim and the process of constructing the shirts has become much more complicated than it probably needs to be? 
Because I enjoy it, and because the stuff that I'm making, I would like to wear. 
It sounds somewhat ego driven, but I do this a lot - examine things that I want to do creatively and move forward with it. It doesn't always result in an outcome that I'm entirely happy with, and it doesn't always inspire approval or acceptance from industry figure-heads, but my doing this is more of a visceral behaviour that I undergo in my studio practice in order to fulfill that part of me that clearly hasn't been fully expressed within one particular discipline. In any event, I won't write too much because you can listen to my ramblings in the videos above. One thing to note, however is that the bit about Milton Glaser's process is not accurate, really what I should've said plainly is that his documentary inspired me to give myself permission to move away from my computer and start using my hands to physically generate new compositions. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cool It Now... You Got To Slow It Down.
What do you do when you're forced to a halt in your creative process? When you can no longer see or even decide what the next step will be?
I left the studio early last night after having gone round after round trying to create a dress that just wouldn't fit my assistant properly. Again, I'm a sewing and pattern-making newbie with only a few months under my belt, and so I don't usually see in advance, if I'm steering towards common mistakes that someone who has been formally educated in this craft would avoid. But I'm okay with this because it's fun to learn as I go, and despite those moments when I can feel the demons tonguing the inside of my ear teasing me to quit, I try not to, but instead, stop for a moment and then revisit what I've done later with new eyes. 
Last night however, I had to be urged into it by my assistant who told me that when she encounters creative block, that she puts her brush down, and takes a break. 
I know this is something that many artists do, I do this myself, but when I'm swept away by the motions that come with trying to resolve a creative issue, I move into a place of obsession, and stay there for longer than I probably should. 
I'm realizing that not everything needs to be done in a day. 
However, I think being a commercial artist has trained me to believe that it does.
I have a very good gauge of how long it takes for me to execute an illustration, which is important to know because respecting time, and understanding how something so organic can all of sudden morph into something so concrete can be the difference between professional longevity and career suicide. The work that I do as an Illustrator is only one link in a chain of many who come together to create a final product; the editors, the creative directors, the art and design directors, the producers, the advertisers, and the account managers are only some of a long list of those who are involved in the creation and distribution of an illustration.  
It can be challenging then, for me to relinquish this need to move forward so quickly, too quickly, in the midst of creative block. Sometimes when I'm too close to something, it's tough to see  clearly.
When I arrived to the studio early this morning, I took a moment to quietly organize what needed to be done, and reminded myself of  how much I can do today.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Art and Commerce

More studio shots, I know. 
I spend much of my time in here. I'm working through some things, preparing for a photo shoot mostly, for the release of some modified Tshirts that I'm making. But of course, I tend to stray from my focus -- well, perhaps stray is not the proper descriptor for what I'm doing because it carries with it, a negative connotation. In addition to the Tshirts, I'm also making a dress for my assistant who will model it for the shoot. It won't be sold, but I thought it would be a fun challenge to lift my skills, and inspire more possibility within the fashion component of my studio practice. 
In my work, I move between art and commerce regularly. Sometimes this movement, this relationship between the two are evident in the work that I do. For example the artistry is present in the craft of making it, and the commercial side is signified through the intention of why I created the image in the first place, ie. to sell. But sometimes I move entirely out of this space and into one that is more insular and hidden from the outside world. I don't do this on purpose, it's just the nature of how I work. And so, my work becomes entirely about making art; it doesn't address an audience, nor is the intention of it commerce-related, rather it's driven by my own ideas, feelings, and wants. 
It's tricky to use the word art sometimes because it's loaded with so much meaning depending on the individual. Some associate art with the world of high end auction houses, and the galleries in Chelsea. The types of discourses present transcend the artist's studio and dialogue with the past, and present... and even future - socially and politically - commenting and critiquing the world that we live in; communicating these oftentimes loaded and complex issues and re-presenting them in a way that participates in this conversation. Or, other times the meaning of the work is about the integrity of the material itself, and how it is used to express the artist's vision. The word can stir about some intimidation, be used to elevate or diminish: high art, or low art; it can be perceived as being so cerebral and so esoteric that it includes only a fractional number of individuals within its circle. 
For a long time, I've been challenged by the latter notion of the elitism about art, but have somehow managed to soften my feelings towards it, and have chosen to include my personal  definition of art as being more inclusive of the diverse ways of expressing one's creativity. I found that by doing so, it has allowed me to continue moving forward, instead of constantly slowing down (and sometimes stopping) to seek acknowledgement from others to know that whatever I'm making has some sort of validity. 
It's tough because even though I love what I do, there is still of part of me that wants the recognition. And it's sometimes easy to let this yearning for acknowledgement drive my craft... my art. But I think this is the nature of the beast, and despite my ambivalence towards someone else's reception (or obliviousness) to whatever it is that I present, I choose to do so because at the end of the day, a public platform for my work is what I desire; work that reaches people. 
There are so many moments in my studio practice that I keep too close to myself, remaining too much in my own world, and not revealing, or sharing with others, what I've made. I tell myself that I'm okay to continue creating without an audience. But while this is happening, it's as though I'm filling a bucket with the work that I am producing, until it begins to overflow. At this stage is when I begin to share my work with others in a way that lifts it outside of the safety of my studio.  This is the commerce side of my art. The business side of it. Although I've tried to keep my self-initiated projects as just that: personal work, it's come to a point where this personal work takes on a life of its own, wanting to exist on more of a public platform.