John Chae is an impressive and trippy visual artist born in Boulder, Colorado but grew up in Seoul, Korea. He graduated with a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. His work speaks for itself but I couldn’t resist sitting down and jumping headfirst into his mind. Read below for the full Q&A…
You might be one of the few artists I’ve interviewed here where I honestly have no idea whats going on in your brain. Your prints are amazing. I have to know a bit about your creative process!
John: My creative process includes a lot of back and forth between digital and hand drawn techniques. I outline the compositions with Illustrator and organize them on Photoshop. Each piece is composed of images and drawn objects that I create separately. I’ve developed a growing archive of textures, patterns, screen tones, and objects that I like to reuse from piece to piece. I like to let my work evolve and change while I make it, experimenting and incorporating new techniques whenever I can.
A lot of your prints invite the viewer to follow a trail from beginning to end. Are these illustrations of detecting Unsolvable Puzzles or is their a higher purpose to these?
John: I make my work to help me digest my own experience of the world. I like to believe that if someone is attracted to my aesthetic then perhaps they have similar attitudes towards reality as I do.
Do you find having an active store front a successful endeavor as an artist? How do you decide which artwork makes the cut, pricepoints, and marketing?
John: The online store is just a means for people who want to buy prints to be able to. Being such a young artist, my main concern is to develop my work, not making a living off it. I have other sources of income that I think are important to develop and maintain.
One of my favorite prints is Deli Boy Blues. There seems to be a slight anime influence in it. Do you have any favorite Anime films/series?
John: Having grown up in Seoul, anime and manga had a huge impact throughout my childhood to early teenage years. When I first moved to Korea, I didn’t speak much Korean, but I was glued to Tooniverse (the Korean equivalent to Nickolodeon) despite not understanding most of what the characters were saying. This visual relationship to anime has greatly defined my aesthetic. I learned how to draw by tracing Dragonball Z manga, I remember the binding always being a pain so I’d just rip pages out in order to trace them better. I don’t watch much anime anymore but it continues to influence my work. My favorite anime film is Mind Game.
What was it like being born in the states, leaving, and then eventually coming back. Having the duality of two cultures give you an advantage in your imagination and creativity as an artist?
John: I don’t know if it gives me an advantage creatively but I do think that my cultural experience is becoming more and more common and relevant.
Whats the best way to cook ramen noodles?
John: If we are talking instant ramen, then Shin Ramen with an egg, scallions, frozen dumplings, sliced hotdog and a dash of peanut butter will put you into a blissful sodium induced food coma.
You did a bit of formal education around painting. Do you still paint or is most work digital?
John: I just started painting again after a two year hiatus. It’s interesting to see how much a digital way of approaching an image has affected the way I approach a canvas. I now construct my paintings in terms of layers and composites, using screen printing to help me achieve this.
What art plans do you have for late 2013/early 2014?
John: I’m trying to make enough paintings to have a show in early 2014.
Lastly, give us some advice that a young artist can apply to himself to be a better artist.
John: Don’t forget about your social life.
Want to stay current on all of John’s work? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: