Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Interview with Katherine Chiu

q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.

a)I grew up and live in Los Angeles, am Taiwanese-American and the youngest of three. I graduated from Art Center College of Design in California last spring and since then have interned at Disney Consumer Products, done freelance work, and showed in galleries. I’m trying to battle the starving artist stereotype and build more momentum in this career.

q)How would you describe your work?

a)My work started off geared for children and family, but of late has been darker with more adult themes. I am interested in observing human behavior and the similarities between kids and adults. A lot of my work reflects the awkward transition between childhood and adulthood, and how youth spills into adulthood and vice versa.

q) Did somebody encourage you to become an artist?

a)My family has always been supportive but I think they would sleep better at night knowing that I was a doctor or lawyer. I took art classes from a young age and one of my teachers Jenny Bulthuis put it in my head that I could do this as a career. Professors at school also encouraged me to do whatever I wanted.

q) What is your favorite medium?

a)Definitely acrylics. I love layering colors and playing with texture. I like that acrylics is forgiving. I can try funky color combinations and if they clash, I paint over it and have some of the color show through.

q) Can you describe your process, from the seed of an idea to a complete work?

a)The creative process is sometimes frustrating but can be rewarding. Usually, I start with an idea or an image that I can’t get out of my head. I have this box of vague ideas that is waiting to be developed. Sometimes I can get pretty methodical and do a lot of research on the subject. Recently I’ve been planning less and letting things come up as I paint.

q) Generally speaking, where do your ideas come from?

a)I am interested in anything Victorian, 50s ads, the Dick and Jane series, overheard conversation, nature, cats and ugly dogs, and my friends and family. I also teach kids and sometimes my students will do something that will blow my mind. Its interesting to see how they can be so bold since they aren’t concerned with perspective and rules like that.

q) How long does it take to complete a piece?

a)It depends on the size. Sometimes a few days to a month.

q) Who are your favorite artists…and who are some artists you are currently looking/listening to?

a)I love Henri Toulouse Lautrec for his characters and composition, Henry Darger for his imagination, Margaret Kilgallen for her color, Aubrey Beardsley for his boldness. Some current illustrators I’m inspired by are Brian Cronin, Josh Cochran, James Jean, and Maira Kalman. I’m currently listening to Mates of State, OK GO, Beulah, The Shins, Coldwar Kids, Arcade Fire, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

q) Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

a)I am showing with Tinlark Gallery in Los Angeles in a 2-person show in March of next year. The other artist is Ramis Kim. I’m really excited about it, I’ve just started to prepare for it. It’s a relatively new gallery but has shown great artists already.

q) Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

a)My friends and I always joke that we need to hire a minion to set up for us. I think the hardest part is getting over my urge to turn on the TV and start setting up the paints. Music does get me going, especially the appeal of listening to new music, so I try to buy new albums. Once I’m in the zone, I could paint for hours and not get up to eat or shower. I think it also helps to end at a point where I don’t like my painting so I have that desire to jump back in and fix it the next day.

q) What is your favorite a) taste, b) sound, c) sight, d) smell, and e) tactile sensation?

a)Hmmm interesting question. a)salty…I have random cravings for salami and string cheese all the time! b) kids laughing c) happy couples, crazy fashion d)new books or clothes out of the dryer e) slicing jelly

q) Do you have goals that you are trying to reach as an artist, what is your 'drive'? What would you like to accomplish in your 'profession'?

a)Make a living doing my art whether it is illustrating books or magazines or doing commissioned paintings. Push my art as far as it will go and hopefully inspire others along the way. I would love to save enough to travel and see the world.

q) When have you started using the internet and what role does this form of communication play for you, personally, for your art, and for your business?

a)I love the internet! I don’t care how unhip it is to say that. It’s true that the internet ends up diluting artist’s work since there is so much of it and everyone feels like they can be a photographer/designer/artist but I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. It makes art accessible to people across the world, and it lets me discover new artists. It also makes it really easy to collect references for paintings.

q) What do you obsess over?
a)I have an obsessive thought process and an analytical personality. I will obsess over a conversation for days. And I make lists of everything: list of things to do, restaurant lists, lists of things I like. I know its pretty anal retentive but I can’t help it.
q) Do you have prefered working hours? Do you pay attention to the time of the day or maybe specific lighting?

a)It’s extremely bright in my studio around 1-4pm so I try to take advantage of that natural light and work in the day. However, I think most ideas come to me at night and I scribble it on a post-it note and stuff it in a box.

q) Do you do commissioned works?

a)I do. I have a project of illustrating a series of children’s readers in the works. I like to switch it up every once in a while. Being an artist is such a solitary career, so it’s nice to collaborate with others. Also doing commissioned works gives me more of the urge to do personal work.

q) Any tips for emerging artists?

a)It’s hard to give advice when I’m still learning the process myself. I would say start promoting your work when you feel comfortable doing so. Develop tough skin and belive in what you do. Create constantly.

q)…Your contacts


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