Interview with Shawna X Huang
Short Term Plans?
I am a designer by day, artist by night and/or freetime. In the first part of March, I am leaving on a one-way trip to China. There, I will practice more fine arts, as well as develop design skills by freelancing. I want to experience how a different country looks and functions in terms of art and design. Once I’m there, I will travel (I plan on heading south), take photographs (I just bought my first DSLR!) and share my adventures visually in a photo blog. Although I lived in China as a young child, it is still very much a foreign place to me – and vastly different from living in Portland, Oregon. I hope to experience life in an unfamiliar setting so as to ultimately enhance my artistic vision and creative approach.
Having blocked access to facebook, twitter, blogs, and all other kinds of social media will be a huge change. I want to know what I can do while away from the internet, and how that will in turn affect my work. China will be the perfect chance to get away from the box in which I work. I am so excited!
How do you describe your Art to people?
Currently, my art is very much intuition-based rather than a conscious thing. That being said, it’s a bit challenging to be specific about my work. I believe my art reflects a natural flow and parallels my frame of mind at this point in life, along with my search for purpose. Everything is still unclear, but seems to somehow be slowly shuffling into place in ways that don’t make any sense. I embrace this. I continue to be very open-minded, without any strict set of rules.
Right now, much of my art focuses on the female body, form and beauty. I think this came from a childhood fascination with beauty and sex. I had a conservative upbringing and didn’t know about sex until I was 11 years old, when some friends laughed and thought I was stupid for thinking babies came from a pill prescribed by a doctor. I was extremely angry at my parents – not that they didn’t tell me about it, but the fact that they had sex. I also love color experimentation. It’s kind of a conscious rebellion against my very rigid and strict childhood art lessons where I was told what colors to use and where to use them. I guess a lot of my work is fueled by some type of reaction to my past experiences.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
I would like to work with musicians, writers, fashion designers, and programmers. I want to take my art to the next dimension, utilizing and incorporating all kinds of digital media. Working with friends who have the same interests yet different backgrounds is always a perk.
How does music influence your work?
Music influences every part of my work! Depending on what I listen to, the drawing is shaped by that sound. My earlier work, a self portrait series called Phases, was created solely from one day of serious claustrophobia, being sick, and listening to the words of Cocorosie. My Girl-Animal pieces were inspired by songs with samples from sounds of nature – such as Yeasayer and Fever Ray. You can throw me some crazy electro-pop-dance shit and I will get feisty – well, my art does. I bet my viewers can pinpoint what genre of music I was listening to with each piece.
How is the internet changing your craft?
I am so immersed in the internet I can’t even imagine life without it, let alone my craft. I really appreciate how the internet has benefited my work, points of views, and sharing capabilities. Having the ability to find and share inspiration with one click is amazing. I keep an online portfolio at http://shawna-x.com, and also a blog where I jot down artistic and musical inspirations at http://shawna-x.blogspot.com. I also use facebook and twitter to promote and share work.
On the downside, it also has made me more ADD. I cannot do one thing at a time. I MUST MULTITASK….all. the. time.
Do you feel like what you are doing is important?
Art and design has stuck to me, regardless of how much I’ve tried to shake it off in the past. I had no intentions of becoming an artist, but the month before I graduated I was asked to participate in my University’s BFA Digital Arts program. I rejected my job offers and went for it. I’d never had any artistic training aside from private classes as a child. I was thrown into projects that were completely open, without any guidelines or restrictions. It helped me learn a lot about myself.
The fact that I tried to go into something completely different but still ended up creating art made me realize I’m driven by the heart. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel like it was important.
When you started out did you think it would be a serious business?
I don’t consider myself to be in a “serious business.” While I’m serious about my craft, I’m not looking at making it a business as of yet. I personally believe it’s beneficial to first love and engage in my work before using it to pursue anything else. I think the business side of life will naturally follow if I go into it with my heart and not some money-driven motive.
Must art have a relationship to the rest of the world?
It doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of art. If I want to work a day job and create art by night, then the art can speak to only me and I don’t have to care about anyone else. But if I want to create art as a message or business, then yes. But that’s beautiful too; the fact that art can connect issues, people, relationships. For me, my inspiration is people. So relationships live in my work’s very core.
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind
I want to create an interactive story book for children. I want to design a fashion photo shoot. I want to make holograms, draw on people’s bodies, and then scan human parts in a giant machine. But overall, I want to find my niche and really excel. Before I do this, I plan on jumping around in the world of design and art – from fashion to advertising to interactivity to production. My goal is to take and hone all of these experiences and then really focus on what makes me happy, effective, and slightly uncomfortable and awkward to keep me on my toes. I want to look at human relationships and interactions to build something visually and conceptually inspiring. And of course, I’ll need to make money to support all of these random, spontaneous dreams.