Submit Saturdays: Art, Illustration and Fashion from Eszter Chen
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Taipei and LA-based artist and illustrator Eszter Chen studied illustration, art and design at the ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena. Working across drawing, painting, mixed media, surface design and art direction, her portfolio includes work for Marimekko, Le Creuset, Elle and The Big Issue. Eszter works from Studio 263, a creative space she co-founded with a number of collaborators in Taipei. We caught up with her to learn more about her work and processes.
What made you want to study art and illustration?
I started drawing when I was in kindergarten. Many of the images were drawn from my own imagination or scenes from memories, some of them were references from catalogues, commercials and my own observations. I had a hard time deciding what to study and what university I wanted to attend so I thought long and hard about what I could see myself dedicating years of my life to studying. I thought about how I was enjoying and loving drawing and hand making stuff: art was my decision.
How did your work in the fashion industry affect your creative process? What did you learn?
I always loved studying fashion and styling when I was a teenager. I took some fashion-related classes in school and I worked in-house in the fashion industry as a textile designer for a stable job after I graduated. After I left my job, I went back to illustration and now work as a full-time freelance illustrator. All the training, researching and the sensibilities of working with fabric and pattern became a big part of my art.
Your site contains paintings and illustration – how do you differentiate between the two?
I actually see all of my work as art, the pages distinguish between them to aid my clients. The examples on the painting page are my personal work. Every project on the page – from idea to sketch and surface handling – are based on my personal ideas, tastes and storytelling. Most of my artworks on the illustration page are assignments from clients with specific direction.
What is your preferred medium of working and why?
I much prefer hand making, including drawing, painting and collage. I love to touch the paper and mix the paint by hand and feel the whole process. My favorite paint is the Acryla series, it’s acrylic gouache from Holbein.
Can you tell us some more about the Emotional Girls project? What was the brief and concept?
Emotional Girls is a collaboration with the Select Shopping Center called CMP Parkland in Taichung Taiwan. The client had a concept about how girls’ emotions affect their shopping habits. They wanted to have a fun campaign that resonated with their customers. I came up with many characters and illustrations for this concept and presented them in different ways. There was also a public installation which blew up my art in large scale, which was really exciting.
You also teach – how does this help evolve your creative process?
Teaching and sharing are something I always want to do besides creating art. I love encouraging young people to bring their imagery into visible forms. Teaching helps me work in a more organised and productive way as I need to plan my thoughts so my students can follow easily. Also, teaching offers possibilities to develop my creative process. I usually try a new medium for an experiment so that I will be able to share the outcomes with my students, which they can also learn from.
What are your plans for the future? What projects should we keep an eye out for?
I’ve always wanted to create a calendar filled with my art, and luckily Ambassador Hotel in Taipei contacted me to have a collaboration with this brief. I also want to make hand made products using ceramics and embroidery. I’ve been making pins, ceramics, zines, prints, and embroidery for my upcoming pop-up shop in July. I will also have a solo exhibition called Help Me Turn Around in Taipei, showcasing a series of the characters I designed. Hopefully, in the future, I will have the chance to work with more companies on an international level.
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