Thursday, December 18, 2014

Artist Profile: Stephanie Ng's Intricate Pop-Art Style in the Salon!

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Hawaiian born artist Stephanie Ng who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and learn a bit more about her and her unique pop-art style body of work.  What first caught my attention was a Ziggy Stardust piece at an exhibit, (of course knowing my love for all things Bowie), so we began to talk and the rest is history. 
Specializing in ink and graphite portraits, (like this Bowie above), she focuses on her subject's most moving element, whether its sensuality, stature, or even its simplicity. Her art distills the essence of her subjects into intricate curves and curls that at once capture the order and the chaos in all of us.  Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows in New York and has been featured by Indiewalls, Openhouse Gallery, and Red Bull Curates.
On to the interview...

Who were/are your favorite or most influential artists? I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the classical arts and the artists who combine classical technical proficiency with creativity. My favorite artist is Leonardo da Vinci, the true renaissance man. I also love the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as Shepard Fairey and Gabriel Orozco. Many times I’ll gallery hop for an entire afternoon and fall in love with twenty artists I hadn’t known existed, but in most cases I’ll remember their work, not necessarily their names.

How long have you been creating? I’ve been drawing throughout my entire life but started creating pieces more seriously during college and had my first show in 2011. Since then I’ve had a number of shows but I’ve been scaling back this past year in order to work on several privately commissioned projects.

Did you study art in school, or college, what is your training, or self-taught? I’m self-taught, although I’ve taken a handful of courses in classical figure drawing and digital imaging. I’m currently taking a course in graphic design during the evenings to hone my skills (plus it’s fun).

Can you explain your pop art influence?  Who do you plan to paint next? While I’m inspired by visual art on many occasions, I often feel I’m even more influenced my music. I’m always listening to music, and obsessively. At one point, I was simply spending the night in my apartment, listening to music, and I figured I’d show my respect for some of my favorite musicians by creating their portraits. Thus, my portraits of Hendrix, Bowie, Billie Holiday, Bob Marley, and Lou Reed came to be. We all immortalize musicians by listening to them and allowing their songs to become part of us. Illustrating them was another way for me to show my appreciation. I’m not sure who I’ll paint next, but the past several weeks have been extremely politically charged, and it’s an important time in America to show support for equal human rights. I have a feeling my next few portraits will be of civil rights leaders, activists, and academics. I’m halfway through a portrait of Noam Chomsky, and for my next portrait I’m leaning towards Cornel West.

What is / was your favorite piece completed thus far? It’s hard to choose favorites, since each piece had its own challenges. I’d say my favorite pieces e at the moment are ‘Lips,’ because of its sensuality, and ‘Skull No. 2,’ one in a series of skull studies I made this past year.
As everyone asks; what type of music do you listen to while creating? It changes with every day, every mood, every project. When I’m making a portrait of musician, I can’t help but listen to the person I’m illustrating. As for other projects, it depends. For example, if I’m making a clean, minimal graphic, then I tend to listen to chill electronic with stripped-down beats. If I’m making a sensual piece, I’ll put on a movie like ‘2046’ in the background.

Other inspirations? It always sounds cheesy, but once you’re in a creative mindset, everything around us can be inspirational. Whether it’s an Eames chair or an Ikea shelf, a marble sculpture by Michelangelo or clay figure by a child, I can find something inspirational in practically anything. We all process hundreds of observations per second. It all depends on how we choose to process and apply those observations.

If you could have dinner with one or two people, dead or alive who would they be and why? Difficult (and great) question! I’d say Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Both are geniuses, and I would give so much to see them in action or to get their opinions on different life topics. There is an endless list of people I wish to meet and have dinner with, but they are in certain ways more accessible; many of them are still alive or existed in the time when we were able to record video interviews.

What upcoming plans do you have for yourself and your art? This past year I’ve scaled back on shows; both in terms of participation as well as in terms of throwing my own shows for other artists. Instead of racing to get pieces done in time for shows or to spending a bulk my time organizing shows, I’ve been focusing on private commissions as well as developing projects more fully and honing my existing skills. I have several projects in mind for 2015, including new ideas for a commission I had put on hold, as well as riffs of existing portraits and skull studies. We’ll see how they turn out!

She finds inspiration in a variety of artists ranging from Da Vinci to Cartier-Bresson to Shepard Fairey to all the artists whose work she sees on the streets each day.

Follower her on Instagram here: @brixtongun