Sean Chao sculpts and paints worlds filled of curiosity and amusement. The body of his works often give a narrative story that stand as odd little moments frozen in time, where imagination and personal history intertwine and are delicately constructed with a gamut of mixed media. I had the rare opportunity to chat with Sean and get an in-depth look at his creative process. Read the full interview below…
You recently released your first Giclee print. How was this overall experience for you?
Sean: I took a lot of pictures of my sculptures in the past, however I’ve never thought of making prints from them until GR Biennale 3. It was a fun experience, I had my friend, Will T Yang, a professional photographer helped me taking amazing details of photo from my work and I spent a lot of time editing the images. It was very time consuming, but the result was great. I’m sure there is room for improvement in the future. I’m excited and looking forward to release more Giclee prints of my work.
We interviewed Mari Inuka awhile back and it was cool to learn that you were part of her exhibition. This year was a great year for you in terms of collaboration. As an artist what is the greatest lesson you have learned this year?
Sean: This was one of the most productive years. I had an opportunity of being in the GR Biennale 3 exhibition. I was very honored to have my first exhibition in a national museum. Then a month after the opening of exhibition I gave a tour for over sixty 2nd grade kids at the museum; it was an amazing experience. All the works I have created during this year were works that reminded me of my childhood, and they were all very personal works. If there was a lesson to learn during my experience in the past year I would say it’s to make art that matters to others and yourself. Make art that’s personal but make it for everyone to enjoy including yourself.
As an artist do you believe curiosity and amusement go hand in hand? Have you had the opportunity, or had the urge to explore darker narrative stories in your work?
Sean: Yes, I want to explore different emotions and create new works, however they will still be inspired by my personal experience and muse. I enjoy making works with the sense of curiosity and amusement, but it doesn’t mean I have to limit my creativity.
Most of your sculpts are smaller scaled pieces. Why do you gravitate to this particular style? Is it harder to depict details?
Sean: I have been making sculptures for few years now and the scale of them have always been small. I like the challenge of been able to push my limit on creating miniature objects in a scenery. However it is always my plan to someday create a larger then life size piece as well. It will be large enough for people to step in to the display case and become part of the exhibition.
You live in LA, and most of your exhibits have been in California. Why haven’t you expanded beyond? Or do you feel the art community on the west coast is a perfect fit for you?
Sean: I haven’t had a chance to travel much but I definitely want to show my work to other places outside of California as well. It’s just a matter of time.
Do you have any favorite Asian films?
Sean: There are many new Asian films I like, but one of my favorite is a Taiwanese film made in 1989. Lu Pin flower (Lu Pin Hua or Dull-Ice Flower ). The story was set in a small-town in Taiwan during 1960’s. It’s about a fine art teacher discovering a young artist. It’s an amazing story. I’m sure many Taiwanese from my generation still remember this film, as it definitely inspired many of us to become artists growing up.
Your pieces for Adventure Time were simply fantastic and brought a smile to my face. If you could recreate any Anime films, which would you do? To take things even further, which scene would you choose?
Sean: Thank you! Adventure Time was one of my favorite shows; it’s really fun to create the piece. If I could recreate any anime film I think I would try Sponge Bob, Doraemon or Mazinger Z.
Tell us a bit about the buzzed Manatee and how that project came about. I am always curious how artists choose which item to release and how they come up with how many to sell?
Sean: Happy Hour with the Manatee was one of my first limited hand sculpt series. It was very time consuming to make these limited editions because it was hand sculpted and painted on every single piece. I’m not an alcoholic but I enjoy drinking some beer once a while and Manatees are one of my favorite animals. That’s how the idea came together. Do you know Manatees are one of the few animals that have no natural predator hunting them in the wild besides humans? I guess they are just so lovable that no one wants to hurt them.
What plans do you have for 2013?
Sean: After February 2013, I’m taking a little time off from creating art for gallery shows. I want to give myself some time to update my website and design some interesting products, which include making a board game with the amazing board game designer Shelby Cinca. We created a prototype game “The Yeren Game” last June and we are planning to release a retail version next year.
Lastly, any advice for any creative out there that could apply to any medium?
Sean: Be true to your art, and make art that matters to you and your love ones!
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