Interview

Interview with Fu Wenjun by CreativPaper

Human Nature for Food No.2, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm

Human Nature for Food No.2, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm

Chinese contemporary artist Fu Wenjun is no stranger to CreativPaper. Graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, he creates through the medium of conceptual photography, installation, sculpture and oil painting. He has also put forward the concept of "Digital Pictorial Photography."

In our conversation with him, he talks about his participation in the upcoming edition of The Photography Show and what we can expect from him at the event.

Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition at the 39th edition of The Photography Show?

At the 39th edition of The Photography Show 2019 presented by AIPAD (International Association of Photography Art Dealers), BOCCARA ART, an International art dealer with a global network of galleries and exhibition spaces, presents a solo booth project showcasing my Digital Pictorial Photography works. Most of the pieces are the last two years’ creation that continue my rethink on contemporary photography art. It is the time when photography should change itself by getting away from conventions and ideas conceived commonly, and embracing new possibilities on photographic approaches, process or practice. I think I have found a way of working with the medium to express the philosophical reflection on the issues concerned clearly.

What can we expect to see from you at the show?

AIPAD as the longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the photographic medium, thought-provoking ideas, new trends and unique processes involved in the medium of photography are welcome. I appreciate having the chance to communicate with my photographic style and works. This time I bring pieces from four series: “Misplacement”, “Ask Tea”, “F1”, “Human Nature for Food”.

“Misplacement” I bring the aesthetic nature of ink art into photography, presenting abstract images with philosophical thinking towards our changing world in this critical moment.

“Ask Tea”, inspired by the colours and geometric composition used by Impressionists and Abstract Art; I tell the viewers an old-style teahouse still existing in my hometown. Drinking tea, talking about the world is always a way of life in the corner of the ever-changing city. The world is changing so fast, but maybe not for everything, for everyone, for everywhere.

“F1”, another exciting and fun piece of music written by reality and illusion, success and disappointment, expectation and surprise, which people will never get tired of.

“Human Nature for Food”, under the familiar surface, it is full of often overlooked details, intriguing and shocking, so is the food, people as well.

Could you tell us a bit more about what Digital Pictorial Photography means to you as an artist?

Every artist is searching for his/her way of artistic expression, even for a lifetime. Digital Pictorial Photography is the one I found until now. I take pictures with my camera; at the same time my eyes are also "shooting". From time to time on quiet nights, the shot scenes emerge in the mind. Different times, different places and different people are intermingled with each other. This disorder makes me feel harmonious and peaceful, which seems to be an essential and deep “beauty”. From my own and others, I have seen too many complexities and contradictions in human nature. There is no straight road in our world. People always come and go with hope and bend around. The so-called correctness is only a relative statement at a certain time and in a certain situation. "Misplacement" is a normal state. The reaction made is only the human brain’s momentary decision. "Wrong" could be "right", “right” could also be "wrong". In front of conflicts and crises, pessimists are desperate, and optimists have hope. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do photography; tradition is defined and could be redefined in the new age.

How do you find a balance between aesthetics and narrative in your work?

The "beauty" is an artwork’s indispensable part; it is the key to unlock the message delivered by the artist.

Do you think it is hard to stay motivated as an artist? How do you tackle this common obstacle?

It’s not easy to be an artist. To create a work of art from zero, the artist must be innately courageous and persistent. No matter how old am I, I insist on excavating the beauty of life, connecting with people by art, touching the mind. Having an obstacle is common. When I cannot work as good as I expect myself, no matter how hard I try, I know I have to leave, walking for a while, talking with others or even having a journey to see a strange place.

Could you tell us about your upcoming projects?

In the first three months of 2019, The University of Hong Kong and Chongqing Art Museum presented two solo shows of my works. After getting back from New York in April, I need time to think and create, perhaps on the relation between nature, human and society. I believe nature can speak, just not in the language designed by humans. I like to listen to the sounds of nature, as the ancient Chinese literati who explored the meaning of life among the vast landscapes. Water is invisible, but it can be transformed into many forms; the water is weak, but its accumulation could be powerful; the water reflects reality and illusion too.

What elements of exhibiting your work excite you the most?

I like to listen to different opinions on my exhibited works, especially negative ones. They push me to reflect on the choices I have made while creating and on what to do next times.


FuWenjun.com


Mr Wenjun’s work has also been studied in depth by Professor Mao Qiuyue of Tongi University in Shanghai who offers a unique insight on his work and creative process.

“In recent years, Chinese artist Fu Wenjun is getting more attention. Through a large number of works of art, such as After Fresh Rain in the Mountain, East Wind Blew Again Last Night, Ask Tea, F1, April, Red Cherry, etc., Fu Wenjun gradually made the concept “digital pictorial painting” into a precise form of artistic expression. Digital pictorial photography is a combination of painting elements through digital post-adjustment and multiple-exposure photographic images to reveal unique visual effects. It emphasises the rediscovering and reuse of image resources. Fu’s works not only appears in critical international exhibitions but is appreciated by many contemporary art historians.

Fu Wenjun himself once said: “I incorporate a lot of experience of traditional Chinese art in my work. Many people say that my work is ‘not like photography’, but ‘unlike photography’ is a new way of presentation. We can change anything.” Fu Wenjun uses photography to express his artistic ideas and integrates the essence of modern and contemporary art such as Dadaism, Abstract Expressionism, conceptual art and pop art. While getting rid of the shackles of documentary photography, Fu’s digital pictorial photography captures painting elements, embodying a touch of freehand brushwork in traditional Chinese art. They offer people with unexpected innovations and new visual experience. Rosalind Krauss, a contemporary American female critic, once pointed out that artworks after the modernist paintings have greatly broadened the connotation of “medium”. A medium can be something solid, or it can be a behaviour itself. In other words, artists’ medium is no longer tied to specific things; it exists in the field of communication with the audience. With the purpose of challenging people’s inherent ideas about artistic medium, Fu Wenjun invites his audience to think about the boundaries of art.

Photography has always been regarded as a documentary, while digital pictorial photography blurs the line between reality and illusion. The viewer is invited to enter different scenes created by the artist. Fu Wenjun’s works should be treated as a sequence because they provide a complete context for the audience. As contemporary American scholar Claude Cernuschi has pointed out when analysing Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline: “An individual canvas will be read in in terms of the canvases that surround it as well as against the frame of reference, or interpretive background, the spectator has gradually internalised. Consequently, a painting such as Probst I cannot have a single, fixed meaning or emotive resonance existing ‘on’ the canvas...That meaning or resonance, rather, is ‘in’ the spectator’s mind.” Similarly, the meaning of Fu’s digital pictorial photography is also contingent on context and the beholder’s participation.

Fu Wenjun once summed up his creative means as such: “My concept will be expressed using collage, juxtaposition, etc.” Collage and juxtaposition are essential methods in western modern and contemporary art. They were initiated by the masters of early 20th century modern art such as Pablo Picasso and Gorge Braque, culminating in the hands of postmodern artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. But the difference is that the post-modern juxtaposition of Western art largely cancels oppositions, while Fu Wenjun sharpens the debate between different items, thus creating a tension on the two-dimensional surface.

Fu Wenjun has shaped his digital pictorial photography with various decompositions and reconstructions. Contemporary critic Katharine W. Kuh believes that the core of modern art is “break-up”. She proposes that in our time, the characteristics of art are manifested in the following aspects: broken appearances, messy colours, scattered composition, disintegrated shape and broken images. Since the birth of modern art, every part of art has been broken down, including colours, light, paint, shapes, lines, spaces, painting surfaces and layouts. Modern art has always emphasised “break-up”, but it does not mean a lack of rules. It attempts to establish a new rule. In other words, a break-up is another form of reconstruction. By doing so, artists analyse, enlarge, and separate some aspects that people have easily overlooked in the past, and provide them with rich and complex experience.

F1 No.12, Digital Pictorial Photography, 40x40cm, 2018.

F1 No.12, Digital Pictorial Photography, 40x40cm, 2018.

Just as contemporary art historian Yve-Alain Bois has pointed out, most abstract artists are never tired of stressing the richness of their abstract/conceptual subject-matter. As an artist living in the southwestern province of China, Fu Wenjun has been trying to show the collision between traditional national culture and contemporary culture, which is an essential theme in his works. In AskTea series, Fu chooses to locate everyday daily objects of Chinese teahouse in the centre, but the whole image display fragmentations and divisions. This is a way of bringing history back to the present on the one hand, and emphasising the impact of modern lifestyle on tradition on the other side. In his East Wind Blew Again Last Night, Come and Go, and After Fresh Rain in the Mountain, Fu Wenjun also contemplates on the binary opposition such as the past and the present. The process of creation is time-consuming. For example, to create the Twelve Zodiac series, Fu Wenjun took several days taking documentary photos in Yuanmingyuan. After returning to Chongqing, he spent another five months to complete the work. A detailed observation of the world and a large amount of tedious post-processing are both essential in Fu Wenjun’s creation.

The exploration of abstraction is a significant feature of digital pictorial photography. Although we often find it challenging to describe abstraction, the experience of it plays an important part in our visual activities. It seems sure enough that Fu Wenjun is a typical abstract artist. But I think this conclusion is incomplete. In a famous conversation with Christian Zervos in 1935, Pablo Picasso expressed such ideas: “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards, you can remove all appearance of reality; there is no longer any danger because the idea of the object left an indelible mark.” Nowadays more and more people have realised that the interpretation of the dichotomy between “abstract” and “figurative” is only a historical phenomenon instead of an objective truth.

From a close perspective, we tend to interpret Fu Wenjun’s works as diversified combinations of forms, but from a certain distance, we may prefer to explain them as a unified whole. This is, of course, a generalisation, but in many ways, people do encounter difficulties in distinguishing diversity and unity. This difficulty shows that the meaning of abstract artworks exists in the ongoing reconstruction and immediate experience of the viewer. Through digital pictorial photography, Fu Wenjun attempts to evoke people’s keen perception. In these works, both abstraction and representation are not final purposes but means. What lies behind the active surface is always the artist’s reflection on the status quo of people, history and culture. As such, his artworks show a dialectical unity of multiple and one: even if the forms and techniques of Fu’s digital pictorial photography are different, they all present an image of the artist as a thinker.

Thus we may safely conclude that whether abstraction is abstract is not a formal question, but a cognitive issue. People’s disagreements over abstraction are not so much due to the ambiguity of the artistic forms as to people’s different “interpretation community”, a term borrowed from Stanley Fish. To recognise the viewer’s subjectivity in the construction of meaning is not only a prerequisite for the rational interpretation of abstract artworks but also a requirement for initiating all interpretations. People’s understanding and appreciation of abstract elements in artworks are deeply rooted in their basic cognitive abilities, and abstraction is not too high to be popular.

Of course, our appreciation of digital pictorial photography is not like reading. Our cognition changes as the pages of the book are flipped through, while when we look at Fu Wenjun’s works, we experience a “comprehensive loss of visual recognition”. In other words, our eyes are not at rest, but in the process of continually changing focus. Thus, various contradictory forces occur, including tensions between the centre and the edge, gravity versus upward force, and so on. The artist tests our ability to capture information through different contrasts. His digital pictorial photography challenges people’s colour perception and shape perception with multiple colours and lines.

Many of Fu Wenjun’s digital pictorial photography use a soft colour transition at the boundary of objects and the contour line of the characters so that people feel the challenge to distinguish between the figure and the ground. By contrast, in works such as Red Cherry, Ask Tea and April, the artist applies a cubist approach to divide the surface of the photograph into separate small units, using bright colours and sharp contrast, so the images in the centre become more prominent.

What can we learn from such arrangements? Contemporary neuroscientists have discovered that colour perception is an important ability that promotes shape perception because colours cannot exist without shape. By distinguishing colours, one recognises an object or apart from its surroundings. If someone loses this ability, a visual perception disorder will happen. It can be seen that colour perception and shape perception are mixed with each other. The neuroscientists’ research provides an academic reference for us to understand Fu Wenjun’s photography. For example, when we look at Red Cherry, we can recognise the colour of the cherry, but the artist has deliberately added some rectangular squares to destroy the original shape of the fruit. Moreover, by casually rendering red, the cherry has become a highly blurred symbol that guides people to indulge in the world of imagination. This combination of precision and ambiguity makes his work particularly eye-catching.

It is true that the artistic value of digital pictorial photography still needs further research and discussion. In the context of cultural pluralism and photopopularisation, photography has already developed beyond the process of light exposure of photosensitive media, and photography with new languages is in urgent need. Contemporary art critics such as John Berger and Susan Sontag believe that photography is not only an aesthetic form but also a social field with democratic spirits. Artists’ constant exploration of photography urges people to abandon the old theoretical paradigm and respond to its challenges with fresh and diverse perspectives. Fu Wenjun’s digital pictorial photography not only displays the artist’s talents and professional qualities but also represents his sense of cultural and historical responsibility. With various visual possibilities, the viewer and the artist are in a dynamic and benign interaction, enriching each other’s understanding of photography and the world.”

About the author: Mao Qiuyue,post-doctoral researcher of Zhejiang University; assistant professor of Tongji University

F1 No.9, Digital Pictorial Photography, 40x40cm, 2018

F1 No.9, Digital Pictorial Photography, 40x40cm, 2018

You Will Have Bread, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm, 2017-2018

You Will Have Bread, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm, 2017-2018

April, Digital Pictorial Photography, 100x100cm, 2017-2018

April, Digital Pictorial Photography, 100x100cm, 2017-2018

Stefanie Schmid Rincon by CreativPaper

1839, this was the year that photography officially gained momentum and while we can agree that the images from that time may be rudimentary, there’s no denying the impact it had on our society. Documentation became easier, what took artists hours was done in a few seconds. 
Photography not only helps us capture fleeting moments but also helps catalogue and document. A lot can be learnt about an era by just observing a photograph. 
Berlin-based photographer Stephanie Schmid Rincon certainly has a knack for capturing these moments. We instantly fell in love with her reportage work and colours. We interviewed Stephanie where she talked about the impact of gentrification in her hometown, her first steps in photography and the contemporaries who she admires. 

When and where did your journey into photography start?

I would probably sound cliche, but my journey into photography started as a very young girl, around when I was 6 or 7. When we went to Disneyworld, my parents had to buy me my Kodak disposable cameras, since I was always taking theirs to take pictures of random stuff. And then for a Christmas when I was 11  they gave me my first pocket camera so that I could always take my holiday pictures. I wish I knew where those films are.

And at the age of 14, my brother introduced me into developing black and white films in school. And so I took a few workshops in high school.

Your images have a timeless feel about them; it's hard to pinpoint which decade they were shot in. What would your favourite decade be if you had to pick one to photograph?

Good question! I probably would have loved to me part of the mid- late 70's. My favourite music comes from that decade, and so does my lifestyle influences.

Are there any other contemporary photographers that you look up to?

Peter Lindbergh is my favourite one. I love his black and white fashion portraits and how he mixes them with street photography, making it look like its not staged.

Anton Corbjin and Danny Clinch, have been two of my favourite ones for a while also and big visual influencers when it comes to my music photography and video.

Have you always lived in Berlin?

No, I have been living in Berlin for the past nine years already. Its the longest I have stayed in a place in my life. I was born in Hannover ( Germany), and already at the age of 1 we moved to the south of Germany, and by the time I was 4, we moved to Colombia. And this happened quite a few times until I was 20 and then decides to move to Berlin for an internship, and so here I stayed. Even though in the past years I tend to skip a winter and head back to Colombia for a few months or spent a summer in New York, or travel for photo projects; so basically Berlin is my base, and the world is my home.

Do you always shoot with film?

For my personal projects, I prefer to shoot on film. Also my travels and daily life. For Fashion and Portrait I like to mix it up with Film and Digital, but commercial shoots I prefer to work with only Digital.

Of all the places in the world that you have photographed, which three have been your favourite?

New York, Mexico and the Amazon

What does photography mean to you?

Photography is trusting your instinct and go with the moment.

It means freedom to me. I love the fact that photography can capture a moment forever. Either by showing a vision abstractly or exact on point.

Photography is an open art form of expression and a unique way to experiment things visually, where there shouldn't be any rules. Its more about having a good sense of a moment and a good knowledge of light, either natural or artificial.

Could you tell us a bit about documenting your neighbourhood in Germany? Do you feel cities are losing that ethnic identity and charm to gentrification at an accelerated rate?

I started photographing my street photography series 'home sweet home' when I moved to the Berlin neighbourhood of Neukölln around 2010. It all started just by walking around with my 35mm film camera and noticing how slowly my surroundings where changing. Local business like shoemakers, hairdressers or hardware stores became cafes, bars or galleries, caught my attention. My neighbours that had lived in my building had to move out after many years because the rent went up, that's when I said I need to capture the neighbourhood before everything fades away. So I started focusing on the front shops, the daily life, people and moments as of how I remembered the place when I first came here, and that still are present. So, I dedicated myself to make this a longtime project of almost five years.

Don't get me wrong, I do also realise, that I have been part of this change. I moved to the neighbourhood because the rent was cheaper for the space they offered and it was still kind of an  'underground' Berlin. In the past seven years, it has changed drastically. My rent is higher as well, there are fashion/sneaker shops, hostels and too many new bars to count, that even I feel its become too much. But then I do understand the hype, its a neighbourhood full of character because of all its international Arabic and German mix, plus the 'artistic ' vibe and still cheap for people coming from other countries. Also that it has its very beautiful spots. Its a place with character and unique, and as long as I live in Berlin, I wouldn't change Neukölln for any other place.

When I was in New York exhibiting this series last summer, I stayed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for example, I felt like in Neukölln in a way. I love the place because its like a small village in front of the big City. Many local shops, business with affordable food, Polish families and the best bars I visited in New York. Also beautiful streets and parks. So the whole gentrification is good and bad. I feel we are at a time that young people want to be part of something authentic and unique and maybe not mainstream. And by that, they make it mainstream. That is what Gentrification is to me.

When is Stephanie the happiest?

Stefanie is always happy. I am known for always having a smile on my face. But I guess the happiest, is when I am with the people I love and surroundings I feel peaceful in.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

 

Donatella Izzo by CreativPaper

Born in 1979, Donatella Izzo started her career in the arts through painting. This eventually progressed to photography. She is currently based in Milan, Italy where she continues to create images that embody a paradox of emotions. Her work has been featured both nationally and internationally. We recently interviewed Donatella where she talks about the current art scene in Milan and her body of work amongst other topics. 

You are a multi-medium artist, has that always been the case?

Yes, I have always been interested in the contamination of techniques.

Most of all I love photography which in my opinion is pure or enriched with layers of matter and paint rather than corrode with acid, melt or cut.

Donatella-Izzo-creativpaper

What does art mean to you?

Art is my obsession. Even if I wanted to, I could not live without it. It's always in my thoughts from morning to night. It’s a form of slavery……

Could you tell us a bit more about your series (no)Portrait?

"No - Portrait" is my new series dedicated to portraiture.

As opposed to a reality more and more dominated by appearance and from the exhausting search for aesthetic perfection, I create a complex and introspective iconographic universe which puts my focus on the quest for an anti-canon, in which the fallacious concept of imperfection is stripped from its negative connotations to acquire higher values.

It urges the viewer to investigate and cross the fine line that divides the visible from the invisible and to focus on new models, redefining, upsetting, the traditional concept of the portrait as a copy, for an introspective analysis of the individual.

The series will be on show for the first time from 20 may to 9 July 2017 in Tuscany at the Gallery “La Bottega” in Pietrasanta. It will be a great and important exhibition for me!

Donatella-Izzo-creativpaper

What about a new concept of photography in this series?

From a technical point of view, these portraits are the result of an intricate work that goes beyond the idea of traditional photography. In Fact, each photo is printed first on paper, and then it is altered with the surface’s abrasions, painting, collage, through the insertion of materials of different nature, and at the end of this process, re-photographed.

So, the final image is printed on fine art paper and generally applied on aluminium as support.

If you could describe the current art scene in Milan in three words what would they be?

Too, much and all

Donatella-Izzo-creativpaper

What’s everyday life in Milan like for someone that lives there?

Milan is a great city, which has become much nice in recent years thanks to the Expo 2015 and offers everything to suit all tastes.

The best food, the best fashion and design, for example. It has always been the most innovative city in Italy. However, Milan is suffering from integration and immigration issues that institutions are not able to administrate: excluding the centre, it’s not a safe city as it once was.

Could you see yourself living in another city?

Oh yes. My dream is to work as an artist in New York or London. But I need a good gallery that can support me. If you know someone, I am available. I work hard, and I cook very well! ☺

 

WEBSITE

Charlotte Burke by CreativPaper

Charlotte Burke is a ceramicist that explores the ways everyday objects are perceived. Focusing on the relationship of 2D and 3D, she uses form, colour, pattern, surface and texture to re-construct and deconstruct the object to reveal something new.

Her latest work 'Vase Abstraction' (2016), explores our expectation as one that's not always correct and when questioned it provokes new ways of thinking and consideration of the world around us. Each play a role in how we experience the everyday object through a familiarity not registering the implicit constructs of form, colour, texture and ornamentation that act as conduits to engage us with of the object.

However if these layers of content, context and meaning are interrogated through a deconstruction in their reordering and in the process of reconstruction a new potential of the object can be revealed. The creative process is engaged and gives structure to a seemingly intuitive random response in arriving at new hybrids explored with the interplay of 2 and 3 dimension.

We caught up with Charlotte to discuss all things ceramics, history and wales. Read the full interview below. 

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK


Your view on ceramics is certainly different from what we expect to be the norm, when did you start experimenting with new shapes?

When I finished my BA and started my MA in Ceramics, I decided to let go and just play. The making process has always been the most important part of my practice, which forms the basis of my experimentation. By taking a step back and going back to the generic cylinder associated with ceramics, I was able to de-construct its 3D form into its 2D identity. Working mathematically through paper, making nets meant I could play with the perception considering both the inside and outside, and the different shapes involved in creating 3D objects. 

charlotte-burke-creativpaper

Ceramics have been around for thousands of years, often giving us valuable information about civilisations long gone. Would you say they are time capsules?

Part of my context within my practice is the idea that the object itself has its own identity beyond its owners, called Object Oriented Ontology. It is a recent principle that in fact does embrace, especially in ceramics that the object lives within its own space in time. The very nature of ceramics holding such a history due to its materiality makes it the perfect type of time capsule you could have. One of the key points within my work is the juxtaposition of the past, present and future sitting within that one space and how that object currently reflects style and trends of this day.

What has the response to your work been so far?

My work has recently been highlighted by Ceramic Review, and I believe it is that insight between the transferring of 2D ideas into 3D outcomes that have invited people to know more about my practice. Due to the nature of my work with playing with perception, its response has been one of great interest into the potential of the countless configurations you can make with one object. 

charlotte-burke-creativpaper
charlotte-burke-creativpaper

Are there any civilisations that inspire you from a ceramicist point of view?

No, my inspiration stems from the idea of still life and the ways that objects sit within a space. From a ceramicist’s perspective, I understand the breath of ceramics that are inspired from past civilisations, in particular skills within making pottery. It because of that notion I try to make something different and play with what people expect ceramics to be.

What is the favourite part of your job?

Everything. From collaging in my sketch to the last firing each minute, I try to challenge myself and look back at the last object to move forward with the next, pushing the potential of the object each time. I specifically enjoy playing with form and colour, suggesting different viewpoints within one object and watching people engage with each angle. 

charlotte-burke-creativpaper

There is a distinct interaction between 2D and 3D in your work, talk us through that?

Each object, for example, my vases, start as a 2D drawn study from 3D. I then take a tracing from that drawing and begin to make a series of scenarios, de-constructing and then re-constructing through collaging in block colours. Through paper I dissect, overlap, re-arrange each thought, creating my initial ideas. Once I feel I have reached a point to start exploring in clay, I cast the object then apply the same process from paper into ceramics, using the slip to recreate the 2D shapes and merge it back into the final outcome. The decoration is applied using decal paper finalising the thought process from beginning to end of our perception of 2D and 3D. 

You are based in Wales, does it have its own rich heritage of ceramics?

The heritage of the ceramics course in Cardiff School of Art & Design itself is very rich and has made and continues to have a massive impact in contemporary ceramics. Wales especially Cardiff, is a very diverse and creative place to be stationed and makes you proud to be a ceramicist. Its own history of ceramics is featured within National Museum of Cardiff which serves as great inspiration and insight into ceramic history and industry including Cambrian pottery (Swansea). Very recently the museum curated the biggest contemporary ceramics exhibition ever held in Wales, including welsh ceramicists, Fragile? Brought home the very best, leaving behind a new and fresh way of thinking towards ceramics as being more than just a craft. 

charlotte-burke-creativpaper

What attracted you into the world of ceramics? 

I have always been attracted to art and design, and ceramics was something that came along once I started my GCSES, inspired by my art teacher’s own journey in ceramics, I decided that ceramics was the only thing I hadn’t done before and the desire to learn more took me by surprise. Now looking back, it seems like a natural progression from 2D into 3D, with ceramics providing the best kind of flexibility towards ideas and making. I enjoy the underdog approach ceramics has in being associated heavily with pottery and craft, and I take that thought within my work and strive to show people how it can be art too. 

What according to you is the recipe for success?

I was extremely lucky to have known Potter, Morgan Hall, who advice underlines each day of my making, “you need first and foremost to be making work that you want to make else you will never be happy”. Success for me would just be a bonus, of course, you have to be realistic and try and make some money, but that isn’t everything. Throw yourself into everything and anything and enjoy where ever the journey might take you.

Lawrence Lee by CreativPaper

Interview first published in CreativPaper Issue One.

Beautiful and haunting, those are the first emotions that came to our mind when we laid our eyes on artwork by Lawrence Lee. There’s no denying that Lawrence definitely has an eye and skill that makes him stand out from the crowd. This Tucson native is known for his symbolic Native American images, many of which are a reflection of his own personal battles with depression.

In this interview he talks about his passion for Particle Physics, being a professional artist for over 40 years along with the trials and tribulations that come with it and his hometown Tucson.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER


Tell us a bit about your upbringing?

My parents were both educators. My father was a self-proclaimed "street urchin" in a vanishingly small town in Mississippi yet rose to be awarded a PhD and become Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District. My mother taught reading and was somewhat creative, but neither of them was particularly "arty," in that they didn't go to the symphony or opera or museums or galleries. But my mother was very protective of my creative endeavours and fought hard for me to be able to pursue the creative forces she could see running within me. I received a terrifically good high school education and thought that I most wanted to be a writer, but in college in the 60s, I quickly found my home in the College of Fine Arts. I received a BFA and a Masters in Art Education, and I suspect that my parents were shocked and more than a bit worried when I proclaimed that I wanted to be a professional artist rather than a lifelong teacher. And they were both mightily proud and more than a bit relieved when I began to achieve that aim. I taught and studied my craft for seven years before finally taking the plunge and started making my living entirely from my art in 1979.

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

You seem to have a keen interest in Particle Physics, could you draw parallels between it and modern society?

I think I have a fascination with subatomic physics because it is so obscure to me and so much like magic. As we seem to understand it now, there is exquisite order in the subatomic realm, but no one can really tell at this point whether that order is elementally a part of the universe at that scale or whether the apparent order is an emergent property that seems generally coherent even though it is based on randomness and probability. Our attempts to make sense of nonsensical things like Schrodinger's cat and collapsed wave functions are supremely annoying. When I was a young man, I had no problem believing that the power of science and the human mind were infinite and that Asimov's Foundation Trilogy was an obvious end game; if you understand cause and effect and have enough data, even the complexities of human thinking can be understood and even predicted… forecast… with a high degree of certainty. But now I'm not so sure. Even though I know much more now than I did in my seventieth year than I did when in my twenty-seventh, I'm much less certain of anything. But I do now suspect that modern society quite comfortably parallels particle physics in its elementally chaotic nature. Stuff just happens. Most stuff just happens, but so much is going on all the time that we get this foolish idea that there is understandable order underneath everything and that if we are just clever enough, we can win out over invisible social force fields that seem to underlie all the self-serving, shortsighted, stupid and ultimately insane things we do. Perhaps we're all just waiting for Humanity's wave function to collapse. Ha!

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

Being a professional artist for over 40 years is quite an achievement, what advice would you give young creatives who might be considering a career in art?

Here again, I once thought I had all the answers and knew just what I was doing and what others should do if they wanted to emulate my success. But the world is a very different place now than it was in the 1970s when I was planning my career. Though most of the specifics of how I invented and promoted and supported my "brand" would simply not be effective today, there are a few general principles that still pertain.

First is recognition of the very difficult to swallow the fact that the majority of anyone's success at anything is due mostly to luck. Sure, hard work and cleverness and preparation and perseverance and all the other things believed to be vital to success are the primary ingredients of a successful career in ANYTHING. And they are all important, but the sad fact is that you don't have to be a good artist to have a very successful career in art if you are lucky. And it only takes one bit of bad luck to end a promising career even if you have the soul of Picasso and the vision of Michelangelo. I take some comfort in believing that to some degree we all create our own luck, but life has a way of happening to us in spite of our best intentions and other plans.

Next is a set of "truisms" that should be self-evident:
    •    Know your craft inside and out and always strive to know it better.
    •    Know your market even better than you know your craft.
    •    Be honest and genuine in your work and your business.
    •    When people tell you they love your work, it's OK to believe them, but don't let the compliments convince you that you're any good.
    •    Take care to develop a unique style.
    •    Learn to know when a work is finished, which is usually when you realise that further work on the piece can make it different—but not necessarily better.
    •    Read widely. One-dimensional people are boring, and one-dimensional artists are the most annoying people of all.
    •    Be generous.
    •    Take "reasonable" risks.
    •    Study other successful artists you admire—their work, their markets and how they promote their work.
    •    Pay attention to money and understand how to leverage it.
    •    Most professional artists do art all day every day. Only if you are producing good work at a pace rapid enough to meet the demand of your current market and to have enough art to break into and fully supply other markets will you stand a chance of developing a relatively consistent income stream?
    •    Finally, understand that for most commercially successful artists to become so, especially if they are not particularly lucky, they have to produce quality work consistently. Remember that you are (artist or not) running a business. So learn about business.

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

You are known for your unique representations of shamanistic figures, how did that theme come to fruition?

I was in college in the 60s when the figure was largely out of favour in public art schools. My work at the time was mostly highly abstract and non-objective. But what I wanted to do was to paint people. So when I graduated, that's just what I proceeded to do. My non-objective and abstract work had taught me much about composition and balance and the importance of negative space and the other fundamentals of design, but I had no real training with the figure other than a couple of "life drawing" courses, for one of which I was the TA because I was better at it than the paid TA. And as for painting faces, I had no training at all. So I looked at thousands of portraits and started to practice, relying mostly on what I knew of the figure from a great "Anatomy for the Artist" course I had taken in sculpture.

And I started painting portraits of a few people I knew, but then started painting imaginary people. But I couldn't find a good market for them. Local galleries liked them well enough to hang, but none sold. And the comments I usually got from prospective buyers was "Why should I have a painting of someone I don't know hanging in my home?" Really!? What about the Mona Lisa or Blue Boy or some such? But every argument failed. Then one afternoon I had just returned from a gallery with one such painting and was dispirited and trying to figure out how to proceed when it dawned on me that I lived in the Southwest and that people who came here to live or visit were interested in ethnic things, often as they related to Native Americans. So I looked at this quite competent but unsellable portrait of an imaginary young woman and decided to put a feather in her hair. Suddenly, she was transformed from "Someone I don't know!" into Ethnic Art. I took it back to the gallery days later, and it sold shortly after that. Now, my career was to begin in earnest. I had finally begun to understand my market. And if all it was going to take for me to be able to paint—and make a living from paintings of—imaginary people was adding feathers and beads, well, that would be a small price to pay. Besides, I had roomed with a Hopi from Second Mesa when I was a grad student, and we had made several long trips to the mesas in the magical morning light, and there his wife would tell me stories about her beliefs and culture. And I started to study American Indian photographs and drawings done by famous Western ethnographers. And I drew. And I painted. And I examined beadwork and weaving and bone and quill work and elk tooth and shell ornaments. And I learned about trade in parrot feathers and the clothing and adornments of Native Americans in the Southwest, the Southeast, the Northeast, the Northwest and—above all—the Great Plains from Iowa to southern Canada.

It wasn't long before I just started to make things up, and as I painted and painted, the figures began to evolve into denizens less of the Native Americana and more of the mind and magic. At first, I painted "chiefs" and "Braves," but as time went on, the shamans came and took control. In them, I could almost always find something personally compelling and elementally mysterious. They challenged me to find and paint that power again and again. Their bodies became more fortified against something unseen. The bones in their heads began to shift a little here and there, becoming something that was “almost human”–but not quite. And so it has been for the past three decades or so. There is always another face to explore, and things have continued to transmogrify as now, sometimes, even their facial musculature has begun to shift.

And I have found that many people have an abiding interest in shamanism. This tide must run deep because most societies have at one time looked to shamans for healing and comfort and for answers to the riddles of the world and to the philosophical questions that plague us all. And they find something personal and powerful in the faces I paint, as though answers may be found there. And the funny thing is that the answers ARE there. It's just that the observer brings the answers to the shaman. The figures I paint are just paintings, after all. Right?

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

What was the best compliment you were ever given?

I have been complimented many times about my art. Then again, I suspect that there is a much larger number of people who have seen it and thought (or even said aloud if I couldn't hear) "This guy SUCKS! My nephew paints better than that!" Or some such. The point is that it is easy to get compliments if you choose your audience for maximal positive feedback. Facebook specialises in arranging things so that you'll never get a thing but compliments if that's what you want. They'll even do it if it is NOT what you want.

I occasionally hear stories that leave me breathless. The one about the woman who was a little worried about relocating to another country because of how my shamans might react. Or the one about how my painting broke a years-long writer's block. Or the several about the men and women who made clear in their final days their desire to die while looking at a special painting I had painted. Or the one about the woman who brushes her fingers across one each time she passes because it reminds her daily of some important things. These are all, in their very special ways, compliments about my art that help sustain me during those long often lonely hours of battle in my studio. Collectively, these may represent the best compliment I've ever received.

But the question does not specify or even imply that art has any part to play. So the answer that springs to mind now is the same one that has held that position since 1979. I had been teaching at Tucson's Special Projects High School for Advanced Study: AP Art History, AP Studio Art, and a college level introduction to the philosophy of my own design. I had cut my hours to part-time so that I could paint more, and at the end of the fall semester, I decided to take a leave of absence to see whether painting full time could provide me with sustainable living. I could never afford to go back to teaching.

But that was not the "compliment." The compliment rose from the fact that the senior class—even after I had not seen them for some five months—asked me to be their faculty speaker at graduation. Now THAT was a compliment and an honour. I remain in touch with some of those students even today.

There have been others that rise to near the same level, and some are very personal. I know that I have changed lives for the better for more than a few people. And that fact allows me to stamp my own life's parking ticket as "VALIDATED."

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

Could you talk us through your book Living with an Imposter?

Ah. This is going to be difficult.

The impostor with whom I lived was my wife—the love of my life, perhaps. She was/is nine years my senior. And we were perfect for each other. It was her job to dream the dreams, and it was my job to make those dreams come true. Happily, she dreamed up some pretty great things, and I always managed to make them come true. Always. That process led us to retire on a Caribbean island when I was only 53. Nice house with two small painting studios, right on the beach. Motorboat. Sailboat. (Both were small but perfect for me.) More money than we needed. Not perfect, this life, but damn close.

And then she was diagnosed with dementia. Alzheimer's or something likes it. She was losing her ability to speak. She could no longer travel alone. She was becoming angry. She wanted to move back to Tucson. So we did. And she continued to fade away, folding all up within herself to the point that the woman I loved was no longer in her body. She had become an impostor. "Who are you?" I wanted to shout. "And what have you done with my wife?" No use. Elder Law attorneys and an education in the finances of dementia followed. To secure her care, we had to divorce. So I arranged it. She could own a half-million-dollar house, so I bought her one. And with the stroke of a pen, I became poor again. And lonely. Still, I did live with her and her younger daughter (now her guardian), and it was during this time that she asked me to kill her. Three times, she asked me. And I had decided that if she asked me again, I would make it so. Because I loved her still. But she forgot to ask that terrible fourth time. And then I ran. Mostly, I was running from myself. I had been diagnosed as severely depressed when I was seventeen and had fought depression to something of a stalemate until my wife's diagnosis. (See? I still refuse to admit to divorcing the woman I loved. I divorced that other thing: that impostor.) But then I still had to live, and the depression now nearly consumed me. And that's pretty much where the book ends.

My life, in spite of everything, did not end with the book, of course. And it is time for me to write an epilogue. I have already redesigned the cover.

What gives Tucson its unique charm? Could you see yourself living anywhere else?

Many people would agree with my assessment that Tucson's unique charm lies in the fact that in spite of its growing larger and larger since it was a small presidio in the faraway West, it has never really grown up. In many ways, it can still feel like a small town. I love it, of course, because I love the sun and hate cloudy and rainy days. And I hate being cold. In those respects, Tucson is near perfect for me. And though Tucson has been my home to return to since my parents moved here in 1957, I can indeed see myself living elsewhere. Once again on an island in the sun, perhaps. Or in the western highlands of Guatemala where I own a little piece of land and have some old friends. Or anywhere. Because I'm old enough to have learned that it doesn't matter where you live; what matters most is who you're with.

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

Speaking of Tucson how did your collaboration with Ballet Tucson come along?

I've been a supporter of Ballet Tucson for some years, making donations of artwork to help them raise money, but the real love affair began during the Ballet Tucson 2015 season gala premiere of Jekyll and Hyde—a steampunk reinterpretation of the classic. I felt transported during that ballet to places I had never been before and instantly knew I could reach no other way. There was a physical presence to the production that drew me instantly within, abandoning—if not disbelief—certainly any sense of my own existence outside of what I saw on stage as my brain tried to make sense of things while all its sensory input channels were engaged.

The experience was so intense and unique for me that some weeks later as my mind was abroad on one of its fairly regular quests for new ports and new languages, and new inventions and ideas, I began to think about a painting I had recently done titled "The Long Way Home." Then, just a few degrees south, there seemed to be a cove holding a story about getting old and loving and loss. And a libretto of sorts began to form in my mind, which I wrote down in a fevered rush of hours. It was not very good, really, but seemed to me an authentic call to become more involved with Ballet Tucson, with the thought that one day I might make the story better and perhaps even see it come to life on stage.

I presented my idea to Mary Beth Cabana, Founding Artistic Director of Ballet Tucson, during an energetic meeting at my studio. A few weeks later, I met with Mary Beth and her Assistant Artistic Director and led choreographer, Chieko Imada and was offered the opportunity—not to further explore the libretto I had written—but to collaborate on a new ballet they had been thinking about for their 2016 gala event. They had thought to base it around the traditions of Dia de Los Muertos and title it "Soul Garden." I agreed without hesitation and suggested changing the title to "Spirit Garden." And we were off and running.

I did the first drawings for “Spirit Garden” while vacationing in Puerto Peñasco on February 20th, and work has continued and likely will continue through the world premiere of the ballet on November 18, 2016.

But there was one more event that sealed my love of this company of young dancers and the many volunteers and professionals who work so tirelessly to make it all possible. At the 2015 gala, I won (as part of the great silent auction they mount for each gala) a cameo appearance in the annual performance of The Nutcracker, long a treasured Tucson tradition. That experience so moved me that I wrote the following not long after:

"My appearance on stage in the Ballet Tucson 2015 production of "The Nutcracker" went well, at least as far as I could tell. I had a bad cold and felt awful all day and was unsure whether I'd have the energy to act as though I was in fine fettle for the period required. Then, standing with the dancers in the off right wings, I listened to their chatter and the final announcements being made to the audience, heard the stage manager, softly and confidently say into her mic: "Take house lights to fifty… take house lights to zero… cue music… prepare to fly the main… fly the main… lights…….."
And it began.

I have taught rooms full of rowdy twelve-year-olds. I've been parasailing. I have spoken, alone on stage, to a large audience of strangers. I have driven my car at 140 MPH. I have said, "I do." Twice. I have stood to greet strangers for hour upon hour at one man shows for decades. I have run toward an overturned car dripping gasoline. I have confronted abusive drunks and powerful people. But never has my heart beat as though it were about to explode outward through my ribs as it did that night when positions were taken, the performance had begun, and it was clear that nothing but an extinction event would likely stop what was about to happen from happening. I was going to go out there in spite of everything. So I did.

And, happily for me, our old friend cortisol "cured" my cold for a couple of hours. The flash memory of that moment is now firmly locked in my brain, and I am unlikely to forget it."

Much to my surprise and delight, the Ballet Tucson Executive Committee has offered me a cameo appearance again this year.

I'm IN!

lawrence-lee-creativpaper

What makes Lawrence Lee happy?

I love words and often say that they are the only weapon I have mastered. But though I've heard the word for decades and tried each time to figure out what it means, I remain unsuccessful. Oh, I get it that some people apparently experience happiness, if not on a constant, unrelenting basis, at least regularly. But that knowledge has moved me no closer to the truth of the meaning of happiness. I also understand that happiness is much sought after by masses of people all over the world. But for thirty years or more I assessed and reassessed a handful of periods in my own life that I thought might equate with happiness. There were few, and each lasted only a matter of seconds, but I cherished them. Now I can recall but two such times, and I have decided that they were not what most people would consider being happy, but that they may be the closest I'll ever get. For those few moments and for a few others that have happened in later years, I felt, I think, content. I knew where I was and where I planned to go and was comfortable that I knew how to get there. But mostly I was just "at the moment" and content with that. Perhaps this is all I'll ever know as happiness and, for me, that is very much fine.

Give a moment of deep thought to what you consider to be the meaning of happiness. There are no right answers. Happiness is not an a priori given, and no answer can be right or wrong. The question, if considered openly and without self-delusion, could lead you through a warren of rutted tracks back through the mass of your life as it has been lived and self-perceived. It may be a long journey. Beware. But if you seek profit, you will likely find it there. And that one, singular reward, may show you that you are far richer than ever you dreamed.

Mikio Hasui by CreativPaper

Mikio Hasui is a man that needs no introduction. This Japanese photographer is known as much for his fine art photography as his work in the world of fashion. We took some time out with Hasui-San to talk about Kissaten culture in Japan, the importance of social media among other things. 

How has social media and the popularisation of apps like Instagram changed photography?

ソーシャルメディア、そしてインスタグラムのようなアプリの大衆化は写真にどのような変化をもたらしましたか?

I think it's great. The base of online communication used to be language, however, the appearance of new social media platforms such as Instagram and tumblr added photography to the online communication. It increased the opportunity to share the situations and joys which are hardly expressed by language by just capturing the impression and experience on our daily life. Photography became much closer to our life.

On the other hand it made the artistry of photography, media to express, vague and unclear. Artistic photographs differ from the communication photographs but now the border line of them is vague and subjective.

Therefore there are more posts as an artistic photograph and they are tend to be called as art works more often. Of course it's ok that there are such kinds of art. In fact I also get the opportunities by posting my photographs as an photographer. Yet my base is still to work on print, the original format of photography. Because I believe photographs should not only be seen online. It should be embodied by materials like paper. And I wish more people would realize the importance of it.

Photo: Kim Anderson

Photo: Kim Anderson

For those unfamiliar with Japanese culture could you tell us a bit more about Kissaten culture?

日本の文化に馴染みのない人のために、日本の喫茶店文化についてもう少し教えて下さい。

Kissaten slightly differs from traditional cafes. Originally Kissaten was not only a place to have coffee and tea or smoke. People were there to socialise and communicate just like cafes in France. Most of them are small and often have less than twenty seats. Usually, the place is dark and quiet. In restoration period after the war, numbers of Kissatens appeared, and it became a cultural and social place for those artists such as writers, painters and actors.

Nowadays, after the appearance of American styled Starbucks cafes, they became popular because of its reasonableness and speed, unlike Kissaten which is more closed, stoic and cultural. Fortunately, there is still a Kissaten culture in Japan. It's not only a place for relaxing and spare time. All the service is provided by members of staff not a self-service like most contemporary cafes. 

It was a unique phenomenon, but there was even Japan originated Kissaten with loud jazz music which is called Jazz Kissa. In the Jazz Kissa, sometimes the session suddenly started when musicians came together, but now it is seldom seen.

Are you based in New York permanently now? How has that affected your creativity from your time spent in Japan?

現在はニューヨークに完全にベースを移しましたか? それよって、あなたが日本で過ごしていた時に湧き上がってくる創造性や独創性 にはどのような影響がありましたか?

I obtained an artist visa last summer. It expires in three years so within three years I would be travelling between Japan and America. I am based in New York, but my work in Japan keep me busy so actually I spend half of my time in Japan. I'm still considering what I'm going to do in the future. I feel after I started working in New York my work tends to focus more on Japanese culture and nature. Especially ’17 photos 17 syllables’ (Artwork to express Haiku, Japanese traditional poetry of seventeen syllables. This artwork tells one story by a composition of seventeen photographs instead of seventeen syllables) which is becoming a part of my life's work, I’m considering to expand this series. Some of the themes of the upcoming exhibitions held from the end of this year to next year are more Japanese.

You once described yourself as a director, artist and a designer, Could you please talk us through some of your design work?

ご自身のことをディレクター、アーティスト、デザイナーと仰られていました が、あなたのいくつかのデザインワークについて教えて頂けますか?

I used to work as a designer and art director. But it's been more than 30 years since I stopped working, so there are not many remarkable works anymore. I mainly worked on commercials and also music record jackets, and some cooperate identity of companies. I took all the photos used for my design by myself and because of this other designers started offering me photography jobs for their design works. I eventually decided to be an art photographer. 

Just like yourself I also struggled academically in school, Where would you be now if things were different? Is there a lot of social pressure for kids to perform well in school in Japanese culture?

あなたのように私も学校の成績に関しては苦労しましたが、もしもそうでなかったとしたらどうしていると思いますか? そして、日本の文化では子供にとって学校で優秀でいなくてはならないという社 会的な重圧はありますか?

I seriously hated to study and so did not perform well in school. But when I left home at fifteen I had difficulty affording school fees and that was the time I studied to get a scholarship and fortunately I could go university with that funding. However, I was also into playing jazz music and quit university. I studied sociology in an ordinary university, not in art school.

If I had graduated school with great results, I would have worked for the company that paid my scholarship. If that were the case, I would have retired by now. I prefer my job now because there is no retirement.

Nowadays, the education system in Japan follows the characteristics of Japanese society that socially prevails large enterprises. Children have their unique personality and potential, and I believe it’s common in every country that their parents want to expand them. However, Japanese society is not ready to accept those people with individual personalities such as artists. It's nearly impossible to make a living as an artist in Japan.

The elements and nature itself are a prominent feature in your photography, Tell us a bit more about that?

あなたの写真ではエレメントと自然が突出した特徴となっていますが、それに関 してもう少し詳しくお話頂けますか?

I'm interested in the light and materials the most. Photography is to capture the light. It a chemical phenomenon materialised by lights. The most efficient way to show the light is through contrast and shadow. The other is that there is a frame in photography. Since the plain canvas is given, the key is to how to compose lights and materials in the canvas.

As an element, I'm not precisely particular about nature. There are so many spots where nature is abundant in a city like New York, yet I also like nature in Japan which is peaceful and has a peaceful side to it. To depict sensitivity of contrast of light and shadow and be particular about the beauty of materials, I spontaneously ended up choosing nature as an object. It's not like I take photos of animals, plants and spectacular natural phenomenon because I'm not a nature photographer.

I prefer to find beauty and peacefulness in ordinary nature in our everyday
life. My house is at the foot of a mountain in Nagano prefecture where is abundant in natural light and materials. However, somehow I don't change the way I see the world when taking photos in New York.

You turned 60 last year, so technically you’ve been reborn as per Japanese culture. How is the new Hasui-san different from the previous one?

去年60歳になって、日本の文化でいうところの生まれ変わった(還暦)わけで

すが 新しい「蓮井さん」は今までとどのように変わりましたか??

I'm quite surprised that I started changing a lot. It's hard to explain by words or sentences though if I were to say it in a word, I feel more freedom. It’s not only about my works I enjoy the time and space more freely, and it leads a change in my photographic works too.

Photo: Kim Anderson

Photo: Kim Anderson

Are there any contemporary artists whose work you admire?

この人の作品は素晴らしい、と思う現代アーティストは誰かいますか??

I always try to see as possible as many artists' works. I am more interested in modern art rather than photography only. One of my best favourite artists is David Hockney and “The Yosemite Suite” gave me a shock. He draws Ansel Adams’ masterpiece ‘Yosemite' using just an iPad.

There are many artists I respect, but I'm not influenced specifically by them. Music and literature rather influence me. The hints of what to visualise in photographs hide in images and those images always suddenly come in my mind so that I always make a note in my mobile phone not to forget it.

What projects are you currently working on at the moment?

今はどのようなプロジェクトを進めていますか??

Preparation for exhibitions. One is an art site in Europe; the other one is in a Canon gallery. I am also working on publishing a photo book from an Australian publisher in addition to shooting for my personal works. 

We would like thank Mr Mikio Hasui for his time, its been an absolute pleasure getting to know him better. And don't forget you can follow his work via the links below the break. 

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

Images of Mr Hasui in Brooklyn, New York by photographer Kim Anderson

Ella Jazz by CreativPaper

When Ella Jazz is not soaking up the sun around the world with her partner in crime photographer Viktor Vauthier this gorgeous lady is working hard in the studio or in front of the lens. We caught up with this Madrid-born beauty to talk about her art, constant travel and her creative vision.

 

For those of us who are not familiar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name's Ella Jazz. I'm an artist and an actress.

 

What is the inspiration behind your work?

I like to try to get inspiration from everything really, even difficult moments. I take it as a challenge. Since I'm a little girl, I've always allowed my imagination to ride free (never stop being curious) which I keep on doing nowadays. I can spend hours imagining things... So I guess this helps me a lot to feel inspired even if I don’t feel that way all the time.

 

You seem to do a lot of travelling with your partner Viktor Vauthier, another great creative. How does this affect your art?

Travelling is one of my favourite things, and Viktor loves it too. I believe that travelling is kind of like a school of life. You learn and experiment incredible feelings probably different to those you would have when you are inside of your comfort zone. And this has a big impact on your evolution as an artist (and as a person)

 

Are there any artists, past or present that you look up to artistically?

Of course, I admire a lot of artists but there are so many I can't name them all. But I can tell you Boris Vian is probably my number one :)

 

A pair of lips seem to be a focal point for your work which we adore, Tell us a bit about that?

I see abstract faces everyday everywhere. The reason behind is to let people play with their imagination when they see my collages.

 

Are there any exciting projects that you are working on at the moment?

Yes. There are things I am working on, and I'm very excited about it. A cool collaboration coming soon, I've just finished shooting for a feature film (I believe going to be very "moving") that will come out next year and continue working on my art, I have so many ideas, and very sexy things are coming...

 

Your Instagram feed looks like one incredible holiday. If you had to settle down which city would you pick?

Los Angeles

 

What does a typical day for Ella look like?

Ha, ha! It really depends on the day. Because of my work my days are different in general. But a good day would be to wake up to a very sunny day, eat well, meet with people who inspire me, work in my studio, dance, get close to the ocean and get high by the beach ;)

 

We would like to thank the lovely Ella Jazz for taking the time out to talk to us. You can follow her work via the links below. 

 

 

WEBSITE INSTAGRAM

Images of Ella in the studio taken by Viktor Vauthier

Darren Black by CreativPaper

Nothing like a bit of light reading on a Monday morning. Today we are talking to the super talented visionary, photographer and close friend that is Darren Black. This London based photographer knows a thing or two about pushing boundaries in his work but today amongst his creative process we talk about the obstacles faced by individuals from the transgender community, his new project 'konstructionhaus' and the future.

How is Darren feeling today?

I’m knackered today - I’ve had a long run of work & today has been my first day off in ages so I decided to take myself off to the Barbican and go to the Vulgar exhibition.

What are the issues you think individuals from the transgender community face these days?

I think that transgendered people face prejudice every day the way they have always done & sadly increased visibility hasn’t yet led to less attacks being levied upon them. However, the good thing is: we are having the conversation about what it means to be transgender & globally there is now a network of people who are in a position to help. We are in the age of progress so having public figures who are either transgendered or supportive of people in the trans community enables the process of education to get better which will hopefully mean that the transgender experience for each subsequent generation will get easier. We are a long way from equality yet, but have started the journey...

Your work always blurs the lines between gender and identity, how did that come about?

I think that I have always been interested in counter cultures and queer art & these places have always been the first to push boundaries when it comes to gender/identity/sexuality etc. Traditionally, it is women who are forced to modify their bodies in the name of fashion, from stilettos & corsets, to makeup & breast augmentation. In a patriarchal society, to be a woman is to be “less than” so to dress as a woman can be seen as comedy - this is where I like to subvert the context of my menswear photography by using traditionally female components to accessorise the men I shoot to make the viewer question what they think is acceptable as “menswear”. Doing the same to female models does’t carry the same subtext because women have often dressed in a masculine way without anybody questioning this. In terms of subcultural references: if you look at the punk uniform, for instance, it has sex deeply embedded into it with the use of underwear as outerwear, shredded tights that look like the wearer has been attacked, torn clothes held together with safety pins - when punks got dressed, this DIY aesthetic was the first time in the history of fashion that this was happening. Similarly, the voguing scene in New York in the late 80’s/early 90’s - here was a community of people (black and Latino gay men) who were seen as “second-class” in their every day lives but who could live out their fantasies on the dance floor: a place where they could feel “more than” These kind of moments are what inform my photos which are generally underpinned by four pillars: SEX, SUBVERSION, VULGAR & COOL so when you look through my archive, you’ll see these themes recurring throughout my work.

Is there anyone that inspires you currently?

Every day I’m inspired by someone or something new...from people I see on the tube, to a documentary I’ve watched on the TV. In general, I visit lots of galleries, go to exhibitions, the ballet, I check-in on DAZED DIGITAL, I-D ONLINE, SHOW STUDIO and VICELAND, I watch films & I read - A LOT.

We seem to have made a lot of progress as a race with regards to recognising individuals with their own unique identity be it gender or sexual but at the same time there’s no denying the regression of these ideas in some parts of the world. How does that make you feel?

I feel incredibly sad when I see oppression or bullying of any kind. As far as I’m concerned, I really do believe that anybody should be allowed to celebrate themselves and present themselves exactly as they want. It’s not anybody else’s place to stop them so when I see this, I get really pissed-off on their behalf. When you take away someone’s choices, you are dictating to them & that doesn’t sit well with me...

Are there any exciting projects that you are working on that we should look forward to?

Yep...And that’s all I can tell you! Haha!

How did you get into photography? Have you had any formal training in it?

I was basically “mid-career” in my late 30’s in a completely different job & I knew that I wasn’t fulfilled. I had always had a love of photography, collecting books and going to all the exhibitions I could fit in and was looking for a bit of a change so I decided one day to buy a camera and teach myself how to shoot & I’ve literally not looked back since!

Tell us a bit more about your new project ‘konstructionhaus’?

This was a personal project of mine born out of my love for brutalist architecture. I wanted to document the brutalist movement before gentrification of various neighbourhoods in London led to these beautiful buildings being knocked-down. My ambition has already got the better of me so I’m now in the process of coordinating a photographic walkabout in other cities to see if this project “has legs”...

If you were to pick a decade that resonates the most with you which one would it be?

Definitely the 90’s! I think this was genuinely the last time anything was actually “new”...we are living in the age of the remix now where culture is just plundering the archives of what has gone before and remixing it for a new generation but in the 90’s we were at the very end of the age of invention. Considering the reach of the internet and how many options we have culturally, there has been a lot of homogenisation in terms of how people dress in recent years.

What’s next for Mr Black?

Who knows? Whatever it is will be just as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you! 

 

Model: Diego Villarreal, Styled by: A+C Studio

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

Kimberley Dawn by CreativPaper

The Alkonost is an independent London based jewellery brand.  Founded by Kimberley Dawn, she produces unique, handmade sculptural jewellery. CreativPaper caught up with Kimberley, we talked about Russian mythology, hope and creativity.  

Kimberley, There’s a strong organic theme through your designs, Talk us through that?

I like to challenge the idea of what beauty is. To me beauty is using something already ignited by beauty through nature itself. I then take that form and generate something new. As I use moulds from real bones in the design of my work, it is like giving it a new life and purpose – a reincarnation into something that can be timeless. In todays world I think it is a good way of showing how you can use something that is around you in nature to create things stylish yet sustainable.

Who is the ideal customer for The Alkonost?

I feel as though the designs connect with people in different ways. The use of bird beaks is almost a metaphor for peoples journeys in life not running smoothly all the time, with sharp twists and turns – yet still they find their way to glide through the air like an elegant bird. I want my jewellery to speak to people to give them empowerment and the assurance to be exactly who they want to be .

kimberley-dawn-creativpaper

The name ‘The Alkonost’ stems from Russian mythology, Tell us more about that?

The Alkonost, according to Russian mythology, is a creature with the body of a bird but the head of a beautiful woman. She makes sounds that are amazingly hypnotic. Those who hear these sounds forget everything they know and want for nothing more. She lives in paradise but comes into our world to deliver a message of hope. Unlike her counterpart Sirin, she brings good, not evil.

The world of mythology fascinates me as it makes the world of the impossible, possible. The content of this particular story in its relation to birds and the good message the Alkonost brings are both prominent features in my work. The combining of a human form and a bird brings to me the notion of strength and freedom. I think it is important for your work and your brand to stem from something that inspires.

What challenges do you face during the creative process of your design work?

As a creative person it is important to finish things. Imperfections and mistakes can lead to our own version of ‘perfection’. The struggle can often be that your imagination is limitless, yet when that collides with the hurdles and frustrations of completing a piece, it can be hard to get past that. All you can do is your best and let mistakes and fails strengthen you and lead you to a better creative process and achievement.

kimberley-dawn-creativpaper-1.jpg

Are there any designers living or passed that inspire your work?

I am constantly inspired by beautiful designers and individuals around me. Katrin Spranger is a designer who particularly inspires me. She explores the use of natural materials with strong narratives or concepts and the outcome is truly stunning with a dark edge. She is a person who makes one challenge ideas which I hope to achieve in my work.

Another artist outside of the jewellery world who inspires me is the musician and artist Grimes. Her persona in going against the grid and her grunge styling is someone I imagine representing my brand. Most importantly I respect the strong sense of freedom she expresses through her work.

What materials do you use in your work?

The main content of my work is silver. In a world of fabricated jewellery it is important to keep a sense of the value of craftsmanship. My designs are handcrafted with moulds made from real animal bones, combined with wax carving. This allows the original natural form to be transformed with the addition of my own imagination - becoming a unique piece that is raw and refined at the same time.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | STORE

Photographer: Nicole Gomes

Makeup Artist: Hannah Williams

Lottie Molloy by CreativPaper

The perception of beauty is strongly embedded in Lottie Molloy's design process and inspires and challenges her as a designer. Through the use of mathematical acoustics and the manipulation of the viewer's perceptions, the homogenous idea of 'beauty' is stripped from the acceptable. Each design is open to judgements and unique reactions of a personal interaction. Each design therefore holds and a quality of individualism.


Talk us through your ‘Glitches in Perception’ collection? How did it come about? 

Glitches in Perception is my Graduate collection for spring // Summer 2017, which conceptually concentrates on the construction of movement between colour and shape. The main ideas for this collection developed from research and investigation into whether the theories of Divine Proportion within an artistic paradigm still hold any relevance in contemporary design. The reasoning for this research was to attempt to understand what it is that allows the spectator to make a judgment as to what makes a work of art, an architectural concept and its final outcome, or a contemporary design aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. Is there any guide-lines that an artist, architect or designer can follow that will ensure that their work will be perceived as beautiful, or is beauty purely a subconscious reaction that comes from the individual. I wanted to then push the idea of what is beautiful, by pulling it apart, manipulating, distorting and even glitching the idea. By doing so my intentions were to create a collection that is open to judgment and the unique reactions of a personal interaction. 

We love your use of geometry and symmetry in your work. How does your creative process start? Talk us through it. 

The pinnacle point of inspiration for my use of geometry and symmetry comes for the beautiful world of modern architecture. So for me, whatever projects I start, to get the creative juices flowing I need to do my research. I can spend hours if not days researching, whether that be scrolling through Pinterest, lapping up interviews from journals and magazines to traveling to a city with my camera and snapping up all the inspiration that is around me.  I pride my self on my attention to detail and this cannot be done without the correct research. Whether this is me being slightly OCD or a major perfectionist I do not know. But I cannot move over forward until I full understand what it is that I am conceptually and aesthetically trying to achieve. I then begin to start drawing and pulling out shapes, formations, compositions, scales and colour from my research, making a well thought out database to be then later crafted together into designs. Along side all of this a good strong cup of coffee and BBC Radio 6 are always at the start of any creative process.

9.3.16d

Are you drawn to specific shapes and architecture? 

Any shape that involves a Clean sharp line and perfect angles would have to be what I am drawn to the most, so naturally I am drawn to Modern Architecture, with movements such and Bauhaus, Brutalism and post modernism. However one architectural movement has really lit a fire in my belly, due to its harsh angles, extreme shapes and its look into perception. This movement is called Deconstructivism and came about in 1980s. Deconstructivism addresses the imperfections of the modern work and in the words of Phillip Johnson, the quote ‘pleasure of unease.’ This architectural movement heavily influenced “Glitches in Perception “and allowed me to experiment with geometry and angles of architecture that I had not yet explored. This is going to be something that I will be continuing to develop within my design handwriting. 

Does seeing your work in a three-dimensional format, like an upholstered chair or wallpaper change the way you see it?

Yes, seeing my work in a three-dimensional format completely changes the way that I see it. The print can completely change depending on what surface or structure it is laid upon. For me the way that I see my work even changes from viewing it on the computer screen to it being printed on the fabric. Suddenly this rigid structure, that can only be moved though the commands of Photoshop and Illustrator, has movement and fluidity of its own. Changing the way that lines and shapes, even colours of the print react with each other, forming new compositions, structures and colour grouping.  

lottie-molloy-creativpaper

What are your current inspirations? 

My current inspirations are artists such as Camille Walala, Supermundane, and Kate Banazi with their fantastic use of shapes and original bold colours. But when it comes to the design and fashion world I take my inspiration from the design houses of Nike, Adidas, Mission and Stella McCathney for their sleek style and sophisticated use of line and structure within their designs. 

What excites you the most about art?

What is there not to be excited about art? It may sound cliché but there is not one part of art that does not excite me. From the rich culture and history that the art world is built upon, to the excitement of going to an exhibition opening and to be moved and inspired with what is being hung on the walls. The fantastically interesting people that there are to meet and learn from. The excitement of exploring and pushing the bounds of art, the butterflies that appear when an experiment in the print room goes right. Without art the world would be a very quiet place. It is the noise of art that excites me the most. 

Lottie Molloy's Social

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

Emily Conroy by CreativPaper

Emily Conroy recently graduated from University of Leeds during her time studying textile design she gradually found her voice whilst everyone was concentrating of fashion or interiors Emily saw an opportunity and pursed the creative processes of luxury toy making.

Emily, Your decorative soft toys for adults are interesting to say the least, Tell us a bit more about them?

My decorative soft toys seem to have been destined to arrive at some point in my textile design world. I have made soft toys from being a young child and they have continued to evolve throughout my life. At University the ‘norm’ was fashion or interiors and I eventually forced myself to dare to be different and I chose to focus on high-end soft toys for collectors. As my chosen pathway was structured textiles, specialising in embroidery it was always going to be of paramount importance. I chose feathers as my theme for the embroidery on the soft toys, the repetition, reflection, form and texture combined to create various stitch types.

The range consists of cute little bunnies and bears, will this expand to different species in the future?

There’s a possibility for anything, who knows what’s around the corner. I have definitely thought about it and I imagine it will happen at some point in the future. 

emily-conroy-creativpaper

How important do you think it is to do what makes you happy in life? You quoted in an interview that this is something your mum once told you. Has this advice served you well so far?

I believe it’s the best way to live your life, do whatever makes you happy! If you’re stuck in a repetitive job you have to complete day in, day out that you hate, you wouldn’t enjoy all aspects of your life. Who wants to live an unhappy life? The advice has served me well so far, throughout my education I chose subjects on whether I enjoyed them or not. This has led me to earning a degree and the beginning of my business! I love making the soft toys, so my main focus now is to get them noticed even more!

Are there any other artists that you look up to?

From a young age I have loved soft toys, as I have got older I have focused my collection on traditional collector teddies mainly from Teddy Hermann and Steiff. The craftsmanship in every toy amazes me, the limited edition certificates and all the attention to detail has impacted my work dramatically. Various Instagram makers also inspire me daily, their individuality and pride in what they make allows me to feel similar emotions as I focus on advertising and developing my own work.

emily-conroy-creativpaper

You seem to use a wide range of textures in your work, talk us through that?

The theme for my embroidery is feathers, therefore the textures have stemmed from this. The contrast between harsh wool fabrics and the light textured embroidery is taken from my visual research. I have created photos where I compare harsh materials such as ice with the feathers creating shapes and contrasting textures. This is transferred into a range of stitch types that create texture and shape in various ways. 

What does the future hold for Emily?

In the near future I have been selected by Arts Thread to exhibit at Handmade at Kew from the 6 – 9 October. I am really looking forward to it, as it will be the first exhibition I have done where I won’t know anybody! This means it’s more of a challenge and it gives me more of a chance to meet new people and see their incredible talents. I am also exhibiting some of my work in an exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford 10 December 2016 – 7 May 2017. This exhibition is craft based, focusing on Animals, exhibiting work from local artists mainly from Yorkshire.  Other than these I am going to continue working on my social media platforms, some commissioned work, magazine entries and trying to get some of my work in local boutiques. Generally just trying to get my work noticed! 

Lisa Krulasik by CreativPaper

Lisa Krulasik, is a talented jewellery designer based in New York City, she has been honing her craft at Pratt Institute for the past several years. Lisa was awarded the 2015 Saul Bell Design Award and received first place in the emerging  jewellery artist category. 

Her BFA Jewellery Thesis Collection embodies her passion for Jewellery and reptiles. We took time out to speak with Lisa about her collection and the creative processes involved. 

In what ways has your background influenced where you are now?

I am a first generation American from Polish parents. Growing up in a Polish household plays a minor roll in my work. My BFA Collection is titled Istota, which in Polish means “being, essence, creature, entity, substance, and soul.”  

My education has definitely had a major impact on my work. I have always been very interested in architecture, math, and science so much so I originally was going to study Chemical Engineering. Once I found my love for creating, I trusted my gut and pursued art to see where it took me in life.

Please describe your design aesthetic in three words?

Crisp, dynamic, and sculptural.

Who would you most like to see wearing your jewellery?

It brings me great joy having anybody interested in my work and I honestly would love to have anyone wear my pieces.

Please describe the creative processes from start to finish of a new jewellery collection?

Typically, what sparks my urge to make something new is when I’m inspired by materials and forms. I then start sketching ideas while referencing the inspiration. For example, if a piece of wood sparks my creativity I will hold and rotate the piece in my hand so that I can discover and draw out new forms. After sketching, I either make prototypes out of base metal and paper, then move on to making the piece in the selected materials, or I just jump right into making the final pieces. Also, there are times that I don’t sketch at all and just start to make intuitively. All of this depends on what my instincts are telling me to do in the moment.

What’s your jewellery philosophy? How do you like to wear your favourite pieces?

While I design and create, I make sure to stay in tune with my intuition and allow for change as I progress. I find that this lets my work radiate the passion that I have for each individual piece. The process for my thesis collection, Istota, involved designing and rendering thirty brooches with watercolour and gouache. This was to gain a better understanding of how the materials worked with each other and with the concept. To further progress, I had a few outside artists critique the designs, and then I selected the ten strongest designs that complemented my personal artistic instincts.

I enjoy wearing pieces to complement an outfit, show off my personality, and boost my confidence. I also enjoy when people ask me questions about the piece I am wearing.

What type of woman did you have in mind when designing your collections?

Instinctively I design work that is gender neutral, I believe everyone has the capability to wear whatever they please. However, when I am commissioned to make a piece for someone specifically, it may be more associated with a gender if this is what they would prefer.

Where did you find inspiration for the materials you use?

I have always been interested in work that included non-traditional materials. During my third year of college, I took a class titled beyond metals, where I was educated on how to work with many new materials like wood, plastic, paper, etc. Since then, I have been inspired to stay on the look out to find unique and beautiful materials that allow me to create freely.

What is the future for your jewellery brand?

I am working on many new and exciting projects, which I cannot wait to share! A few have been shared on my website but I am also working on various commissions and creating a new selection of jewellery.

The next few months have a lot in store. Stay updated by following my social media accounts and checking my website.

Alex Asfour by CreativPaper

Alex Asfour is a Miami based designer and illustrator with a passionate for all things art, design and travel. CreativPaper caught up with Alex to discuss his typical working day, family and travel. 

What is the first thing you do before starting your working day? 

Well, the first thing i do as soon as I wake up is to check my email to make sure there are no urgent messages or job inquiries that require immediate responses. Then, after consuming a couple shots of espresso, i will either resume with emails or if i have time, go for a quick run. I actually do most of my design work at night and my day is spent with administrative tasks.

How many hours per week do you currently commit to your craft? And how do you find a balance between your administration tasks and design work? 

It's hard to determine my hours as they vary so much. Freelancing is very much a feast and famine field. Sometimes I’ll be swamped and work around 70 hours and some weeks I’m completely free of client jobs and can work on personal things. In terms of balancing design and administration, I’ve come up with a system where i spend my days with email, shipping, and other administrative work and I’ll design at only night. This allows me to concentrate more and not be distracted by incoming calls or messages. I feel most creative at night so for me it works well.

Is it true your mother inspired you to work in the creative industry?

Yes, my mother, while not a professional artist, has made art her entire life. Whether it be sketching, watercolours or needlepoint she showed me that anyone can be an artist and not be afraid to experiment and try new things.

Your love of travel is evident in your illustrations, what have been your favourite countries you visited to date and why?

Yes, travel is a passion of mine and it informs my work greatly. I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit with my parents when i was growing up. They took us all around Europe, North America, and the Middle East and it’s been really fun returning to places i visited as a child and to get a new perspective on the city. I know this sounds cliche, but, i finally got a chance to visit Paris last summer and it was very inspiring for me. From the architecture of the city to all the amazing works of art there, it really super charged my creative battery. I’ve also recently visited Stockholm and Prague and they were also incredible cities.

Stockholm is definitely on my list of cities i would personally like to visit, can you share any unique finds you may have come across whilst in the city or quirky eateries you would like to share?

Stockholm should definitely be on everyones list of cities to visit, its one of my favourite cities ever. Besides the fact that everyone there speaks perfect english and the people are incredibly nice, the city itself is a work of art. The balance between old and new architecture is incredible and the public spaces are very well designed. Not to mention the great museums, shops, and parks. The most interesting thing I discovered in Stockholm was their Metro Stations, which should be considered museums. Each station in the main area has its own unique design, colour, and subject matter. They are really amazing and I found myself riding the metro up and down just to see each one. The food there is also nice but it is a little pricey to eat and drink in Stockholm so I found myself often grabbing quick smaller meals such as kebabs, french hot dogs, and of course the meatballs. 

Alex, can you describe the creative process from an idea into the final result?

Well, after an idea pops into my head i immediately start sketching really rough, crude sketches. They are simply to figure out composition and to make sure when i jump on the computer and start building the design, it will work. Then, I rough out all the shapes and build the elements of the design slowly adding more and more details as i go along. I finish by tweaking colours and adding some additional textures and I’m done.

The colours in your illustrations are dreamy.. Is choosing the right colour palette important to the overall artistic vision of that piece?

Thank you. Yes, colour is very important to me. Sometimes the design itself will look great but the colours won’t be working. At this point i will tweak and play around them until I’m happy. Sometimes i’ll grab colours from photographs or use websites that offer colour schemes to help me find the right tone.

As a professional illustrator and designer how do you utilise social media to your advantage?

For me as a freelancer with no agent to help me get work, social media is extremely important. It doesn’t matter how good your work is, if people aren’t seeing it than it’s not helping you. Instagram has been a great way to share my work and to get new jobs. I do my best to stay on top of it and share as often as i can.

As a self-employed freelancer how do you stay motivated and organised? Do you ever suffer from doubts particular during quite periods of the year? 

As a freelancer, I never seem to need motivation as I have a burning desire to constantly design and create things. While sometimes I feel like i need Inspiration, motivation never seems to be an issue for me. Absolutely, working alone as a freelancer can be incredibly tough, especially in quiet, slow times. Luckily for me, I have my personal project, The World Travel Poster Collection, that keeps me busy. I just finished my 80th city and I’m hoping to reach 100. This, along with my online store keeps me pretty busy.

Your client list is very impressive, you have worked with The Washington Post, TimeOut NY and Disney to name just a few how did these opportunities come to fruition for you?

Most if not all of my jobs have come to me because of my World Travel Poster Series. This has been a three year (and counting) passion project for me where I’ve been making travel posters for many cities around the world. It gotten quite popular now so it’s been great in helping companies find me and giving me opportunities to work with cool clients. 

Ayala Uzan by CreativPaper


Ayala Uzan recently graduated with a Bachelor of Jewellery Design from the Skenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, Israel. As a sculptor and painter, she perfectly utilises these skills to push the creative boundaries of her jewellery designs. 

CreativPaper took time out to speak to Ayala, take a look below for the interview and more of her designs.

In what ways has your background influenced where you are now?

Well, right now I'm just starting to figure myself out outside of design school. I graduated last year and I'm trying to leave the bubble of school behind me and focus on the rules of design and commerce in real life with all of its restrictions.

I'm a Perfectionist so my road is never easy. Never was. 

My background is what's motivating me to be excellent. Just Good is definitely not an option. All my life I have struggled the feeling of mediocrity that surrounded me. No one really expected more out of me. "You are average and that’s good enough" they said. But it was never enough for me. I wanted, and I still do, to be great at what I do. Not so much for recognition, but for my own personal Fulfilment.

And that’s why I'm determent to create beautiful and unique jewellery at the best quality.

ayala-uzan-creativpaper-14.jpg

Please describe your design aesthetic in three words?

Clean lines, cool look & different. 

Please describe the creative processes from start to finish of a new jewelry collection?

It always starts with the hope and determination to create in an organised fashion.

So I sit down and think of inspirations, draw something, define some goals, what would I like to achieve this time around, materials I'd like to use and so on. I prepare a full inspiration board and then… What actually happens, is that I start processing the metal, and it just happens intuitively. I do have guide lines, but inside all of that order and lists and decisions, I have to let my hands and my soul just do what feels right, and then I do some fine tuning and adjustments. 

What’s your jewelry philosophy? How do you like to wear your favourite pieces? 

My philosophy is that it has to look effortless. Just a good clean design, that celebrates the everyday as well as the special occasions. I love wearing a combination of my favourite pieces, normally a cool pair of pants, v neck oversized T shirt and a pair of white converse. 

What type of woman did you have in mind when designing your collections?

First of all she has to have a lot of character Both Looks and personality. She doesn't have to be the prettiest, she is a real person. With faults and all. She is strong and confidant. She has a good sense of style. Definitely not a fashion victim! She likes the one of a kind pieces. She'll put together both high and low fashion. She has a bit of everything in her, she is a girly girl and a tom boy. And maybe some tattoos.

Basically – she's me.

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Photography by Yafit Simcha.

Hampus Olsson by CreativPaper

Since the age of 8 years old Hampus Olsson has been making websites and pixels originally from Sweden he relocated to Goa, India in January 2015 and has not looked back. We caught up with Hampus and asked him some casual brain-picking questions presented together with a small selection of his quality recent work.

 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a Swede who loves adventures and artistic challenges. I currently live in India where I work as Partner & Design Director at the creative agency Next Big Thing. I make art, games & apps on my free time and have been doing this since I was 8 years old.

 

 

How does Hampus start a project? Are there specific forms and shapes that you are drawn to when you start a painting?

It depends on what type of project I'm working on, but I have an overall liking for geometry, simplicity in chaos and I like to work with it until perfection. When I work with web design, I usually like to try something new while still following the trends of web design nowadays. When I work with art, I feel like I can express myself completely, without setting any boundaries. Maybe that's why my art usually becomes a bit abstract :)

 

You've worked with some great clients such as One Plus and Paranoid Android, how did these Collaborations come about?

I met OnePlus founder Carl Pei in India, where we by accident discussed the possibilities of me helping out with the default wallpapers. Since then I've worked closely with OnePlus lead designer Arz Bhatia, who also works with Paranoid Android.

 

 

I think the colour palette in your work is fantastic. Do you find yourself using the same colours all The time and what objects in nature inspire you?

I'm drawn to a few colours and all my art seem to follow these closely until I realise that I probably should experiment with other colours too. For my Abstruct app, I really need a greater mix of colours, so I've recently tried to expand my use of colours :) Music inspires me the most and I found out that listening to 60-70s progressive rock magically boost my creativity to the max.

 

 

I believe you also have an extensive background in web design, Does your artistic side play a big Role in it and vice-versa?

It does, but with the current trends in web design, it's a bit hard to reach too far off. I try to add small details, clever typography and geometric forms to my web design as much as I can without disturbing simplicity. Back in 2010, I lived in NYC, working for Your Majesty and the Swedes Jens Karlsson & James Widegren who pioneered the 3D abstract art scene back in the days. I used to experiment with abstract art before meeting them, but they inspired and taught me a lot, that I'm thankful for.

 

 

What does the future hold for you, Hampus?

I continue working with Next Big Thing, but will have a lot of my own projects coming up too. For example, I'm working on my own indie game called NokoDoko which I have been working on for over two years now. I'm starting to see the finish line, but it's hard to know since I do all the programming and design myself. The Abstruct app gained a lot of attention since the OnePlus 3 release, so this will be my main focus until release. I update my Instagram account @hellohampusolsson regularly with new art for the Abstruct app for those interested.