Miss Christine Wu is an Los Angeles based certified practitioner of the arts and general awesome maker. Stylistically, her work is multi-layered with haunting and sexual undertones. She often depicts people in flux, capturing the vulnerability of self discovery. We sit down with Christine and talk shop! Read below for the full interview…
Your work deals with growth, change, and maturity. As an artist who these themes reflect, do you get used to things working on a magic time frame—put it out there and it will happen exactly as you planned and wanted it to happen?
Christine: There is never a magic time frame. I think it’s more like little spurts of magic, and with something as unpredictable as magic, there can’t be a want for something to happen in any exact way. My process is alchemical, I don’t plan for images to happen by premeditating and drawing tons of thumbnails, I never know exactly how an image will turn out; the work channels the flux that I constantly feel. When I put work out, as long as the piece feels finished to me, I have no qualms as to how people may interpret them, so there is no set plan as to how things happen (although selling work is always fantastic).
Tell us a bit about ‘Bliss’, and how the creative process came to be? How did you decide how many colors would go into the screenprint, and how did you decide upon the edition size?
Christine: I was approached by Daniel Rolnik and Ryan McIntosh to do an edition with them for their collaborative project, Intellectual Property Prints. I drew the image and worked with Ryan to figure out what the best way to translate the work into a print would be. We decided to do a five layer silkscreen print, where the first two layers were very lightly pressed onto the paper, creating a tactile look that isn’t normally found in prints. The other three layers of the print were of my line drawings, overlapping each other. The edition size was set by Ryan, since he is the printmaking expert.
Do you prefer the exclusivity of your work or do you generally like to create open editions?
Christine: I have yet to create open ended editions, but I love the idea of having my images accessible to anyone who likes them. The business side of art will always be a bit tricky, and I’m trying to navigate the waters as best as possible. I don’t have a preference for either exclusive or open editions.
And concerning the collaboration aspect of this piece, are you generally a loner or do you like to pair up with other creatives and create something?
Christine: I don’t mind collaborating, but it’s not something that comes naturally for me. My work doesn’t necessarily lend itself easily to collaborations, particularly if it were with another artist of the same media. I would be more open to work with a printmaker, sculptor or jeweler designer, although it is not something I look for when I work. I greatly enjoy doing everything myself when it’s possible.
This can bleed over into showing your work in solo shows or group shows. Do you prefer one or the other? Do you experience any added pressure participating in solo shows?
Christine: I am not a huge fan of making work for group shows. I like to have an entire body of work, with pieces that play off of one another and subsequently have a stronger presence because of it. Group shows tend to be a bit difficult for me since they can come at random times, sometimes when I’m trying to wrestle with a concept for my personal understanding, and can end up derailing my thoughts. The pressure associated with solo shows versus group shows is quite different. With a solo show, I’m more concerned about whether or not the pieces are successfully saying what I’d like to convey and whether or not I’ll be able the finish all the pieces that I’d like to. Whereas with a group show, the struggle is more about if I’m putting work out that I like, especially if it’s for a themed group show, so I tend to be quite picky about what group shows I participate in. I am currently working on a body of work for a solo show I will be having in November that is beginning to take a comprehensible form, it’s like incubating a hatchling: quite exhilarating.
I’ve discussed the cultural identities with many past interviewees and they all have agreed that sometimes they feel at odds with culture. They mainly retreat to either Canada or California. Is this coincidence or do you feel California just has a better understanding of who you are as a person and an artist?
Christine: I’ve lived in California all my life, so I can’t comment too much about what it’s like to live anywhere else, but I must say that I am at home here and am grateful for the opportunities that it has given me. I do feel at odds with culture because I’m a second-generation immigrant born of Chinese immigrant parents, and am an artist on top of that. Los Angeles has provided me with fertile ground to be who and what I want to be, and I often equate the sentiment with the freedom of the “wild west.” I’m not sure that I’ll ever be completely understood, but I’m happy with where I am and don’t feel like I need everyone to understand me.
Favorite Asian films? Do you like anime?
Christine: One of my favorite films happens to fall in both these categories. I absolutely love Tekkonkinkreet, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and the world that Taiyo Matsumoto has created is raw, bittersweet and captivating.
I know you travel a bit and have visited London, Korea, among other places. What would you say is the biggest cultural shock as an artist that you have witnessed between other countries and California?
Christine: Living in California and growing up in and around Los Angeles has allowed me to submerge myself in a number of different cultures. I can’t really say I’ve been shocked by any of the places I’ve visited because when I visit foreign countries, I always try to have no expectations so I can learn as much as possible. I did however, feel quite out of place when I was visiting Seoul, I think it may have to do with being so used to living in an extremely diverse environment. I joke with my friends that Los Angeles is the city of weirdos, and I felt that acutely when I was in Seoul, where there is very little acceptance for things out of the ordinary or stray from the ideal.
Since graduating from Art Center College of Design, has your career panned out as you expected?
Christine: When I was in school I didn’t have a career plan set for graduation. My life has not gone the way I’ve expected it to, but I don’t think I ever had any specific expectations for it, more of a general goal of being happy and self-sustaining. I am satisfied with where I am and where my career has taken me and am sincerely excited to see what the future may hold.
Lastly, any advice for any artists out there?
Christine: Be supple. Keep an open mind to learn and experience all that you possibly can. You have to learn all the rules before you can break them (and to come up with clever excuses if you get caught).
Want to stay up-to-date on all of Christine’s adventures and future gallery shows? Visit her official site below: