Briefly describe the work you do.
My work often draws upon my memory of locations, people or animals, which have personal meaning to me. I retell the story for myself to express an elusive feeling toward that certain place or object, for instance, homeless people on subway, or certain animals which I visited often at zoos in NYC. When the feeling is strong enough, it will expand to a more complicated painting like “My Journey to The West,” which is about my voyage of studying from East(Taiwan) to West(New York).
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was born in Taiwan. After college, I went abroad to New York City to study animation and illustration at School of Visual Arts. Graduated from MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program, I was inspired by the chairman Marshall Arisman’s idea of illustrator as an author, illustrating from one’s own life. Looking back at my work, my Taiwanese background fuels the content of my work, and my art education in New York city gave me the tools to express that. “Hoop Memoir” is a great example as it is a visual essay about my reminiscence of playing college basketball in Taiwan. The scenery surrounded by mountain and river can never be created without my culture background.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I agree. A lot of my studio practice comes from sketching on the subway or painting in the zoo/park. Being at the moment with a particular space is very important. The process of elusiveness is part of the bigger creation later.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
The role as your own business partner. Not until actually showing your work to the public will you realize how important the business wisdom is required. I am still learning.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I concentrate better at night, but after having a day job, I have to work more in the early morning and weekend. I basically grab any time I have to make any progress for myself, the “New York Subway Sketch” series were created under such circumstance.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
My work has evolved in terms of scale and complexity during past five years. Still telling my own story, but as my skills advance, I begin to work toward more complicated ways of expression.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Of course! There are a lot of artists inspired me. To name a few, Deborah Ross, Mu Pan, Yuko Shimizu, Marcos Chin, Gregory Crane, Joo Chung, John Ruggeri… Needless to say the great masters in the museum, and people & animals from daily life, for instance, I just saw an elegant lady sitting with her poodle on subway yesterday, just fascinating!
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Maybe work for gallery/museum, or work for other artists?? so I can keep learning and attempt to be an artist! 🙂
Chemin Hsiao is a Taiwanese artist based in New York City. Born in Taiwan, graduated from MFA Illustration as Visual Essay at School of Visual Arts, his work often tells story with memories of locations and people. He also paints portraitures and animals with the passion of capture their spirits.
Chemin’s painting “My Journey to the West” was recently on view at Zero Boundaries exhibition at Taipei Culture Center, New York. He was chosen as 1 of 30 nominees at 2013 Young Illustrator Award in Berlin. His work has been selected in major illustration annuals such as The Society of Illustrators New York & LA, and American Illustration.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.