Possibilities In Impossibilities

What is the difference of being an artist v.s. a fashion designer? I’m sure if you ask 100 people you’ll get 100 different answers. For me, it’s the difference between seeing possibilities in impossibilities that sets an artist apart from a fashion designer.

Very often, we artists don’t really care much about creating the most beautiful thing as the standard of beauty shifts every decade or so. At least for me the impermanence of it is not worth the effort. Instead, I find myself more interested in exploring the idea of finding possibilities in impossibilities that drives the whole process of creative experimentation. If supposed beauty comes out of it, then yay but it’s secondary to the main purpose.

Take pa’Frida 3D printed Art Installation for instance. I’m not really trying to do yet another “pretty interpretation” about Frida Kahlo, as she’s been overdone in both fashion and art fields since forever ago. Instead, I want to explore the impossibility of Making An Icon then Breaking An Icon idea through the incorporation of her iconic status.

“She has become an icon not because she wanted to but because we made her so.” - Stella Chang

When she first visited New York City in the 50’s she hated Capitalism and the idea of excessive ownership that comes with it…I can only image her rolling around in her grave lamenting the fact that we’ve made her into an artistic/cultural/social/tragic/whatever-it-is-that-fits-your-agenda icon…until we are over her and then we break her…Just like what we did to Norma Jeane Baker.

So I want to make her and break her following the time-honored American tradition and below are my steps:

STEP 1 - START WITH ONE SINGLE CONCEPT ILLUSTRATION

IMG_4502.jpg

Pa’Frida

It’ll started with this one single concept illustration to flush out the idea.

STEP 2 - FROM CONCEPT TO STRUCTURAL BREAKDOWN

IMG_4549.jpg

Breakdown

Breaking down the idea into 3D printable structural parts

STEP 3 - 3D MODELING BASED ON STRUCTURAL BREAKDOWN

I’m thinking developing this into a floating & hanging life-size sculpture with - you guessed it - The Italian basso rivlievo technique. Stay Tuned.

Sculpting Frida Kahlo's hair in Zbrush.

I'm SERIOUS about being an artist now and I SWEAR

I dedicated the last 14 years of my career to fashion, designing tons and tons of contemporary woman’s handbags and small leather goods for various brands. Season in and season out, it was the same formulaic routine, deadlines, and overseas travels repeated with soul crushing efficiency. 14 years later, I found myself completely unfulfilled, lost, and not to mentioned physically suffering from chronic ailments directly caused by long term stress and anxiety.

Ever heard of psychosomatic allergy to bleach? Apparently I developed an unrealistic allergy ( all in my head) to the smell of bleach because somehow it reminds me of all the hotel towels. And somehow that leads to my sense of dread of having to be on the road over and over again. Yeah, that took about 2 therapists to get it out of me. Not to mention my severe flying phobia which is not going anywhere but I have clonazepam now.

I’ve never slept more than 6 hours in my tenure as a fashion handbag designer, and I’ve never lived in a country longer than 4 months as most of my full term employers kept me on a 3 month flight schedule…one of the down sides of being multi-lingual I suppose.

It’s been exactly 17 days since I had a major surgery, and with time to think during my recovery, I’m ready to announce of my return to being an artist. I know I’ve been creating art since 2015, but this time, I’m serious about dedicating myself to it. In fact, I’m SO serious to being an artist that I’ve even created a list of What NOT to do:

  1. No more “squeezing in” art whenever I’m done with fashion projects. Art first please!

  2. Free-associate don’t worry about the price or sell-ability for a moment, just create and see where it takes you.

  3. Who cares if your “subject matter” is not “on trend,” or representing some kind of “ popular” social issues. Honestly, art is here to stay while fashion is out in a matter of season.

All that being said, I started below pa’Frida art collection, or para Frida Kahlo in Spanish. Why not be inspired by my favorite artist Frida Kahlo? Why not see where she takes me? Whenever I think of her, I don’t think of her bold colors but her pain and physical sufferings. Maybe because my life has not been smooth, and maybe I understand what chronic illness feels like, I just want to channel her zest for life and passion for living through my art…and maybe in the process, I’ll rediscover why life is worth living for.

Perhaps I want to understand why despite everything she still wished to live and fought so hard for everything in her life through her art.

So I started with pa’Frida art print I & II printed on white face aluminum metal dibond sheet, and you can purchase both of them from @swapupart Online Gallery just search my name Stella Chang.

pa’Frida Print I - mixed media art print on white face aluminum metal dibond.

pa’Frida Print II - mixed media art print on white face aluminum metal dibond.

These 2 prints are just appetizers wait till you see the upcoming 3D printed installation inspired by Frida Kahlo. Stay tuned!

Creativity equals Problem Solving

Maybe it's just me but I find myself unleashing the most devastating (-_-) burst of creative energy when confronting with a problem. 

Some are expected while many others hit me like a curve ball out of the blue. To me the process of solving problem is very similar to creating something beautiful. In both cases, I'm dropped inside Pan's Labyrinth in pitch darkness, with nothing but my own wit and the many crazy friends in my head. Those friends of mine are no help at all since no one can see them but me. Grrrh. 

Case in point:

Problem 1: This is Modular, an experimental 3D printed crossbody Minaudière in ColorFabb NGEN Clear PETG, or polyethylene terephthalate glycol. It's a hard material to print and for some reasons I got 2 tiny burnt marks on the front panel. 

Solution to Problem 1: I tried hand sanding then buffing but the burnt marks are too deep, so I switched to model paint and painted it like I meant it. Yes, it's all "intentional" like we learned in art class 101. The modular bubble design is accented by swirly paint and quite honestly, I really like how this turns out especially now I can really see depth created by solid paint on opaque PETG. There's certain organic fluidity to the hard shell design. 

IMG_7699.jpg

Problem 2: Similar to problem 1 but with dust ball trapped within layers of PETG. 

Problem 3: Two Tiny Potholes also found on back panel. They are just inconsistency in printing that happens all the time, as for the dust ball, I dug out as much as I could.

Solution to Problem 2: Paint, paint, paint your heart out so that front panel and back panel match. Unfortunately the dust ball and 2 potholes are pretty wide apart so I use the largest motif I can think of: Rose. 

Come to think of it, maybe the million dollar idea is to custom paint the back side for each customer. Ka-Ching! 

IMG_7701.jpg

In conclusion, I think this Modular Minaudière turns out to be okay. 

Liking my art or liking me?

Is it me or there's a huge surge of artists on social media posting, not their art but themselves? Am I the only person who's dismayed by the social media induced me me me-ism that's also taking over the art world?

Don't get me wrong, artists have always been about themselves and their visions and unapologetically so. But through their artworks, creative process, and definitely not their selfies. 

State of Need, Mixed media printed on silver dibond, 2013

I don't know man, maybe it's because my entire childhood was technology-less, and only the latter half of my teenage years did cellphone and social media became everyday norm. I just don't compute how if art is an extension of yourself and your innermost thoughts, would you override that sentiment and post images of you and you and you? 

I get it if you open up a separate personal account and just post about your edited but fabulous life through closeup shots of desaturated scone and coffee mug, or if your focus of art is using your body and face to explore deeper meanings of whatever.

I get all of that but when I start to see artists glam-ing up as though they are one of those fashion influencers and bloggers, I just don't understand nor can I relate to that type of visual content that no longer carries artistic substance. 

State of Want, Mixed media printed on silver dibond, 2013

There was this artist who I used to admire on instagram and followed her art obsessively. The past 7 months I started to see her account flooded with images of her traveling, her taking tea, her going to fashion related events, and her posing with other quasi-celebrity somebodies. 

In her tight sequin rompers, her followers shot up by the thousands but where did her art go? 

Self branding/promotion through popular image is on the rise and definitely has its merit, but when it starts to override the real content of what you are trying to do as an artist, that's when I start to find my own petty jealousy not worth the effort. 

I suppose an unexpected dilemma of being an artist in this modern world is to be conscious of the type of images you are creating: content-driven or social media driven. 

Fear is

I think as an artist, a huge part of my process is confronting fear, and in so doing learning a new trick, a new technique, or even a new way of looking at things.

For the life of me, I'm not a realist artist who can paint or illustrate photographic portraiture of anything. I'm just not interested in depicting things realistically, and rather prefer to interpret the subject through representation or some kind of conceptual extrapolation. 

Practice sketch in watercolor. Still fantastical with realism accents. 

For the longest time, most of my art focuses on fantastical illustrations that are NOT faithful to reality in every sense of the word; and I really don't give a two figs. When digital rendering was made possible with the creation of photoshop, illustrator, and CAD; I jumped onto the band wagon and never looked back. 

Over a decade later I found myself at a loss for not understanding why many of my artworks were flat flat flat. Something was missing but I didn't know what it was until I signed up for Dacia Gallery's residency and boom!

My very first life painting session knocked me down with the horrific realization that I have lost the cognitive ability to see the in-between colors, which blend everything together and give you that realistic facade. 

When working in digital media everything is manipulated to the point that a subject's exposure, and colors are so heightened and intensified that all the middle tones are squeezed out. Working in digital media also doesn't allow one's brain to really see the many colors that make up the blues, the greens, and the reds. Under the sunlight, a leaf is never just green but an array of greens and yellows, sometimes even red and blue depending on the light and the cloud coverage. 

So I flipped, big time, still freaking out the fact that my brain has lost the ability to observe, discern, and execute. And yet, I'm still here, like millions of other artists practicing one sketch at a time to redeem myself.

Again and again 

Underwater, in watercolor, digital textures, and who knows what else mixed media. 

Until I can choose NOT to be a realist artist not because I can't draw realistically, but because I choose not to. 

I suppose fear is, for many artists like me, the perfect motivation to learn something new and in the process solving the many problems, which eventually will develop into our own unique styles. Definitely not for the faint hearted. 

Art is

Since this is an inaugural post of my blog, I've decided to share with you all what art means to me:

1. The best anger management tool. 

Ink was created when my flight to Seattle was cancelled and rebooking would have cut down my vacation by 4 days out of 7...Ugh! To top it off, my baggage still flew to Seattle despite my effort to file reclaim. Let's just said it took another 3 full days for me to receive my baggage. 

2. Art is where I can safely emote when real life and its inhabitants don't permit or accept the fact that I sometimes simply wish to tear my hair out. I can rage through colors and each brush stroke is a cathartic attempt to heal and find peace. 

Gelidas Vultus  from Impossible Beauty series 

3. Art is also where I record my observations of phenomenons, objects, and interactions between living beings. The good, the bad, and the weird I totally relate to but not always. 

4. Art is an extension of my thoughts, my ideas, and my dreams. 

5. Art is the life I've chosen for myself and it is not always beautiful. 

Pudgala from Conception of Self series 

6. Last but not least, art is the most productive method to negate insomnia.