Monthly Archives: December 2012

Interview with Artist Spotlight: Michael C. Hsiung

Michael C. Hsiung is an artist based in Los Angeles, Ca. His simple line illustrations are narrative with mythological subjects and a hint of humor within it.

4782_95536208516_4290469_n “So far, so good, so what!” from Megadeth album. One of my favorite quotes which I’ve been trying to incorporate in my life since I was like 15.

Rae: Now let’s begin with the interview. Thanks for being with us today Michael.

Michael: No problem Rae. Thanks for having me.

Rae: So, I’ve been seeing your artwork for some time now. It is interesting to me that your artwork is influenced by comics, mythology, cryptozoology, and tied to simple humorous moments?

Michael: Totally! I’ve been interested in all those things since I was a child, and when I first started making work….I found myself gravitating towards things like unicorns, centaurs, and stuff like that. My style probably is some what reminiscent of comics, which I collected as a kid, mixed in with my weird spasmy personality.

Hsiung---mermanbattle copy

Rae: I really like and appreciate the patterns and line work in your pieces. What is your favorite medium that you like to work with? Why?

Michael: My favorite medium is ink, though I’ve only started recently to really try and utilize the ink and brush combo. It’s my favorite medium in pen form, but that’s mainly because I’m more comfortable controlling it like a pencil. Also, it allows me to lean on the paper and draw endlessly. I originally started with Micron pens which were something given to me by my sister’s boyfriend Scott. I wasn’t really familiar with art materials when I started, and he recommended to me a blue pencil, micron pens, and stuff like that.


Rae: Has expectations with your art changed over the years? If so, how?

Michael: Definitely, I try to use more color, focus more on composition, and incorporate patterning in my works than I did before. I also have worked on my characters and narrative a bit more, hopefully making them more interesting and humorous.

Finally, I think too that I’ve also learned to relax a bit more when making stuff and allowing more room for error. When I was first making art, lots of my stuff was pretty raw, crooked and more narrative. I’m just trying to tighten up those parts of it and draw less crooked obese people with 3 fingers.

Hsiung---FirstSkateboarders copy

Rae: What do you like most about being an artist based in Los Angeles?

Michael: I think the thing I like the most about being an artist based in Los Angeles is that the culture and folks out here really appreciate art because they themselves are doing something creative, albeit music or film.

It seems like art is tied to every event out here too. There’s also so many galleries and great museums here that you’ll never get bored as an artist.

Hsiung--riot copy

Rae: Describe your process for creating your artworks?

Michael: Depending if I already have an idea of what it is I want to draw, I usually start by sketching various shapes until something forms- bodies, bears, and stuff like that. After sketching, I will usually start to figure out the details like outfits and accessories. Then I’ll use a pen or brush to start outlining and filling in. Then at the end, I might add a bit of red here and there.

7. HSIUNG_JETTY_SHIRT copyRae: What inspires you to continue making art?

Michael: What really inspires me to continue making art is the people who enjoy it, the works of other artists, the friendships that making art brings, and the satisfaction that expression brings me.

Rae: You are also in the “Human Pyramids Artist Collective.” What is unique about this art collective?

Michael: The Human Pyramids Artist Collective is unique in the sense that it involves international artists/friendships. the collective began as a way for lots of these artists who live in Spain, Ireland, or France to get their stuff out there with folks in the United States.

Rae: How do you feel about collaboration in relation to other artists?

Michael: I enjoy collaborations between artists, though I think there’s something to be said about finding the right match. Some collaborations work really well; while others don’t quite work or come out how I’d imagine. Plus, whenever I get works from other artists to collaborate on I’m really nervous about messing them up.

While I know the nature of collaboration is messing up, you’ve gotta see some of these beauties folks send to me!

Rae: Any artists you would like to collaborate with in the future? Who?

Michael: Gosh so many I can think of….honestly! I’ve been meaning to collaborate with artist Eric McHenry for some time, but everything he sends me is just too nice for me to add too, and I end up keeping them.


Rae: What advice can you give others who want to pursue art?

Michael: My best advice is to make art, have fun, and stick with it. Just because you’re not getting shows or known, if you keep working on it, it’ll happen.

Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If you mess up an eye, then put an eye patch on it!

Rae: Which cities have you lived in? Traveled to?

Michael: I’ve lived in San Jose, Ca for quite a few years. I attended SJSU and got an English degree but remained there several years after. I’ve traveled to Taiwan, Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, Prague, France, Morocco, and various states in the US like New York, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Rae: Any amazing favorite gallery you love in Los Angeles?

Michael: I have to say that I really like Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City and THIS,LA in Highland Park, both for different reasons. Both galleries put on great shows and have great folks running them.

Rae: How do you recharge when your creativity hits the wall?

Michael: I usually try and spend time with friends and my wife, Rachel. I read, watch movies, and pretty much do anything else than draw.

Doesn’t always help, but I find that stepping away till the point you start freaking out having not made something usually helps. Museums are great too, I just need to go to them more often.

Rae: Any inspiring book at the moment for you?

Michael: I’ve been finishing a trilogy by Bernard Cornwell based on the Arthurian legends which I find really inspiring. Filled with great details on battle, pagan rituals, and stuff like that.

Rae: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Michael: Hmmm….I’m so easily excited, so I have to say some of my most exciting moments as an artist have been just seeing my stuff in books and etc. Most recently one of my prints donned the background of that film For A Good Time Call, which was pretty cool!


Rae: Music is a huge influence in art making sometimes, any music you have been listening to lately?

Michael: I’ve been listening to a mix of rock and heavier stuff, but I think YES is always on the turntable not to mention stuff like Om and Thrones.

Rae: Any new upcoming projects that you are working on currently?

Michael: Well, I’m really excited to participate in the upcoming Supersonic Electronic Invitational 2 in SF this January as well as 2013 summer group show called Tonight We Fight, curated by Luke Pelletier at New Image Art.

Rae: Thanks for the interview Michael. Look forward to seeing more in the future. Keep it going!


Check Michael out at:

My Twitter

My Flickr

My Facebook

My Tumblr


My Website

Studio Visit Interview with Artist Spotlight: Marianela de la Hoz

Marianela de la Hoz is a visual artist who is currently residing in San Diego, Ca. She paints miniatures using the ancient technique of Egg Tempera with a contemporary look. Her works are exceptionally detailed and fine. My visit with Marianela in her lovely humble home studio, hidden in the quiet mountains of Vista, away from the busyness of the city, left a big impression on me. Seeing her work and how she speaks of her personal history reveals how universal we all can relate to each other in life experiences.

Rae: So let’s begin our journey into Marianela’s world.


Rae: I recently saw your art series, Heaven and Earth, the Determined Freedom of an Undetermined Life, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. I felt a deep emotion while looking at it. What was that series all about and what inspired you to start it?

Picture 3

Marianela: The universal themes that every human being has a good and dark side. I also was commenting on the status of women in society. It took me a year to work on that series, Heaven and Earth, the Determined Freedom of an Undetermined Life which consists of an altarpiece with 11 individual paintings. This story is re-done, a modern Eve, portrayed in the upper region of the central painting, wears an apple on her chest as a type of Scarlet Letter and eats apple pie. The symbolism of the apple has two meanings: rebirth & hope, and the darker symbolism of sin & fall of humankind.

This impressive altarpiece is inspired in part by the Museum’s painting, Madonna and Child, ca.1468 by Carlo Crivelli, which is on view across from the altarpiece. Crivelli piece is the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus and de la Hoz summons the role of religion and questions its effect on motherhood and destiny.

 Personally, I feel closer to Eve because of our imperfections; the Virgin Mary is too perfect and pure for me to attempt to recreate her image.

With these two works together, de la Hoz creates a dialogue between two related but different women, the Virgin Mary and Eve.

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when creating new pieces. Do you have a ritual that you start with?

Marianela: When you are an artist, you are one 24 hours a day. Every morning I wake up at 5am and sweep the floors. It is there while sweeping the floors, I meditate about the projects I want to create. Around 9am, I start painting. I paint about 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 1 year.



Rae:  I read at the museum that when you were young you went to Catholic School. Do you think Catholic school has influenced your work a lot with the subjects you choose to paint?

Marianela: Of Course. For the school that I went to was a nun school, all women. Most were sinful and guilty. I suffered so much, that I thought I couldn’t go on living. I went into therapy for 10 years. Within 5 years after therapy, I tried painting as a daily job and it changed my life. It was cathartic.

No regrets though about going to catholic school now. I am this person today because I lived those moments.

Rae: What made you decide to make art a full-time job?

Marianela: When i had my second child, it made me realize that I wanted to fulfill more of a purpose. I learned from my children. They are my teachers.

Rae: Do you predetermine meaning or does it arrive later in your work?

Marianela: Everything is predetermined. I have an idea. I develop it. I start with sketches. And then put it into my vision. I know from the beginning what will end up in the end.

Rae: Have you lived in other cities? What keeps you staying in San Diego making art?

Marianela: I was born in Mexico City and have been living in San Diego for 10 years now. It doesn’t matter where I live. I will make art anywhere because it is a necessity.

Rae: Any upcoming new projects in progress?

Marianela: Yes I have a showing of drawings and paintings at Noel Baza in december continuing on the same themes I had talked about earlier.


Comer tanto odio me hizo daño / Eating so much hatred made me sick
silver and gold point & graphite on paper
6.5 x 4.9 inches


Se me enfrio hasta el café / Even My Coffee Went Cold 2009
silver point, ink and graphite on paper 5.7 x 4.5 inches


Digame que no entiene aun sobre su estado? /Tell me what you don’t understand yet about your condition
egg tempera on board

Rae: What do you think about collaborations with other artists?

Marianela: I’ve done it before but it’s not my thing. To me, my art practice is a very private process.

Rae: Any advice you have to give other artists out there?

Marianela: Keep doing what it is you love. You have to not care whatever people say.

To be an artist, there needs to be a balance. You have to be a well-rounded artist with a world of your own, good skills, and something personal to say.

Rae: What do you like most about making art?

Marianela: It’s natural for me. Art is my first language. It is cathartic, it helps me understand the outer and inner world of mines. It is vital.


En el Laboratorio/ In the Laboratory 2010

Rae: Any music that inspires you right now if any?

Marianela: I love to listen to many types of music. I was just listening to opera the other day. I like good music and the non-commercial type. Music is very important and is essential in ones life.

Rae: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Marianela: That is difficult to answer. But now thinking of it, there’s not one moment. It comes everytime I have an idea that comes with a meaning behind it. That is the perfect moment when everything comes together. That’s my best time.

Rae: How has your practice changed over time?

Marianela: I learned from my mistakes. I became better. I am 56 years old now. I’ve been maturing as a person and as an artist. I don’t ask anything from anyone anymore. I am an obsessive person though, so I always try to do my best.

Rae: Any books that inspire you?

Marianela: I read all the time. My grandfather taught me how to read. I read Charles Perrault, Brothers Grimm, and Andersen fairy tales. When I read, I translate the stories into drawings in my own way. I also like reading Dostoyevsky.


Rae: Finally, any amazing galleries here in San Diego that you love and always inspired to check out?

Marianela: Noel-Baza because they are honest people in the gallery world.

Rae: It’s a wrap. Thank you for inviting me to your lovely home, Marianela.

Marianela: My Pleasure, thank you.

You can see more of Marianela’s artwork on her site:

Email Marianela:

She has an upcoming show in San Diego at Noel-Baza Gallery, Kettner Nights Dec 14, 2012.