ARTIST OF THE WEEK: ROSE WONGApril 5, 2017
We speak to Rose Wong, an illustrator based in Brooklyn who creates bold, geometric shapes and juxtaposes them with flora and fauna of the natural world. We catch up with her about her favourite spaces to work, keeping a sketchbook to hand and the inspiration behind her ‘Consider Death’ series.
UO: Have you always been a creative person?
A good chunk of my life has been spent between me, paper and a pencil. So I think so, yes!
UO: Did you attend an art school or University?
I studied Illustration at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
UO: How did you decide upon the style of floral elements paired with geometric shapes?
I love the random and organic shapes that nature creates and I also love how geometric shapes can be beautiful in their minimalism. Combining them creates a visual juxtaposition that appeals to me and how I view the world. I love controlled chaos. Life and emotions are messy, but we always want to have some sort of control.
UO: Where did the idea for your ‘Consider Death’ collection of drawings come from?
I was inspired by a song by STRFKR. In the song was an audio clip of the philosopher, Alan Watts, talking about death and how you basically can’t appreciate life without the notion of death. That’s when the series was born.
UO: Is the figure in your art someone significant, unknown or not to be revealed?
The series was emotionally driven so I would say the figure is me but also the viewer. My representation of people aren’t usually drawn with distinct characteristics or a personality because I want anyone that looks at my work to be able to emotionally connect with it and place themselves in the art.
UO: Where are you most productive with your work?
My main working space is my room. It’s really comfortable because I have huge windows with ambient light throughout the day and my plants. There is also a room that my roommates and I converted into a shared studio space. It’s good to separate a workspace from a relaxing space, but I can be productive in both spaces. Depends on whether I want to be alone to reflect or if I want to absorb the energy of others.
UO: How do you stay creatively motivated?
I have found that the best way for me to stay creative is to keep a small sketchbook. It gives me the freedom to explore ideas and visual themes in the small scale so I don’t spend my time trying to be a perfectionist. I try to draw from observation/life whenever I can because it keeps me present, patient and there is nothing more inspiring than real life!
UO: Can you describe your creative process from observation to final piece?
I generally spend most of the time conceptualising rather than actually making the piece. They usually start from scribbles on scrap paper or as a small doodle in my sketchbook. I like to work out compositions in the small scale because it’s an efficient way to draw out many ideas in a short period of time. Then I move onto doing a sketch, to size, on tracing paper. I like to measure things out and use the ruler to create my geometric shapes. Then I use my light box to trace the final onto mylar, which is a plastic sheet that is kind of transparent. On top, I use graphite and on the back, I paint. And when I am finished, I put the mylar sheet over a piece of cream paper. I love mylar because it separates the drawing and painting process into different layers. It creates a subtle depth and makes my work look milky.
UO: What other artists inspire you or inform your work?
I look at so much stuff, it’s hard to choose who or what directly inspires me. My feed is full of a wide range of styles from painters, animators, comic artists, illustrators, ceramicists, and tattooists. But I really enjoy the works of James Jean’s line work, Jonas Wood’s still life paintings, and Rob Sato’s work in general.
UO: Have you got any upcoming projects or personal work that you can share with us?
Right now I do not have anything concrete. I am just enjoying drawing in my sketch book and experimenting and exploring different ways to draw/paint!