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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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