CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
Putting smiles on the faces of the young and the old, who will re-experience their youth with just a mere glimpse of this artist’s work, Harper Kuo plays with colour and shapes to touch upon the hearts and minds of the audience. With pieces that will hit a nostalgic chord, sparks will fly and intrigue will emanate with every new post. In this interview, we delve into her diverse and interesting background, her plans and passions as well as her work and aspirations in detail. Enjoy your trip down memory lane in joy. 
What are the main motivations behind your art? In other words, why do you do what you do?

It’s been four years since I decided that I want to really focus on painting. My dad is an artist and, when I was little, I used to draw with him. Then, I started school and just got interested in learning from him along with his other students. For a long time, I didn't see drawing as a big thing, and I paint rarely. I think I was deliberately avoiding repeating what my dad does. When I was about to graduate from university, thinking what to do next, I realized that drawing randomly really makes me happy – more than doing anything else ¬– and makes me have my own voice. That’s where I step into this field. 
You’re originally from Taiwan but moved to London to study illustration, and later settled in Madrid (Spain), where you are now based. How do you feel these three different places and cultures have influenced you personally and artistically? I see you have a painting with ‘La pera limonera’ written on it, which is a funny Spanish expression to say something was really cool. So you’re already adapting to your reality in Spain. 
It’s always a bit lonely when you have to concentrate so much on something. I enjoy living in the city, it’s alive, and it gets all commercially decorated when festivals are approaching. The idea of moving into a new place keeps my antennas on, I feel fuzzes inside noticing the difference between me and the crowd. It definitely changed my mood by switching places, and adapting to the weather and do goofy things like a ‘guiri’ (the Spanish slang for ‘tourist’).

Have you experienced any differences between being an artist in Madrid and back home? What do you think are the major differences between both places for young artists?

European cities are well connected, you can always reach out. You won’t be blocked if you don’t live in Paris or London, which costs a fortune. If you are good, you can expand your network internationally. Madrid gave me a chance to stay in Europe, it has a chill vibe and really nice people. In Taiwan, you have to work a lot on social media in order to be seen. It’s a completely different approach and very time-consuming.  
Your work is characterized by simplicity: very few elements, colours, or characters. It provides a sense of innocence to your work. Your pieces manage to say a lot while still leaving space. Do you consider your work minimalist? How would you describe your style?
Most of my works are very minimal. I see blank as an open field with different levels of white. It coexists with the subject in different proportion, which poetically highlights the subject itself. It’s a space that lets you breathe and imagine. It lets me be me. 
One might think your illustrations are aimed at children: you feature toys, pets, and sweet food (from ice cream to pancakes). I think it would look great on books for the youngest ones, really. Do you feel childhood (either yours or as a more general concept) is an influence to your work? 
I might be quite a childish person? I find humour in silly things, and being able to be playful in my works energizes me. I try to build up characters in my works and their personalities are based on people I know or on dogs and cats that I know. I feature them because they once gave me a heart-warming feeling and I want to share those nice feelings with the audience, with you.
You once said, “I like to frame the emotions between people and objects”. Tell me, what kind of emotions are we talking about? Is it the materialistic attachment we feel to them because of the consumerist system we live in? Or is it more spiritual, a higher connection between us and the objects we surround ourselves with?
I daydream and I am inspired by my surroundings, which later I refine and recreate into my reality. How we puzzle up a person in our memory depends on how we observe them and what they decide to expose to us of themselves. We can’t invent things, they all exist until we find them. So it’s about paying more attention to your surroundings, looking at something small that could be overseen, and giving it your own interpretation. Those details I found in a character, are very personal and particular, and I choose what’s representative to me to emphasize in my illustrations. 

"Tools will keep evolving and being replaced over time, but great ideas don’t."
You’re also interested in fashion, as I can see in a pair of Jacquemus shoes you painted or in a Loewe-inspired artwork. What is it that draws you to the fashion industry? 
I like the colours, shapes, and how items symbolise and define different styles. I am not a real fashion lover – not so serious! But fashion reflects so much on the current cultural situation. I draw girls that wear Paloma Wool – a brand from Barcelona whose style I really like, it’s very nostalgic. Try out different clothes and give yourself a break; be someone else. It is also a process of getting to know yourself, finding out what makes you more comfortable. 
With who would your dream collaboration be? 
Loewe, Paloma Wool, and Palomo Spain. These are all authentic Spanish brands that I love!
It is clear that you also like to play with the textures that oil paint provides. How do you work? Do you have a certain methodology or ritual when you paint? 
I start painting by using oil. I like to brush slowly in order to feel that every trace is nicely landed. Painting is the thing that makes me the most patient and content, and it feels satisfying when you know that you’re able to focus on one thing and put yourself together to do it slowly, only to make right. 
Would you ever turn into a digital illustrator? Why or why not?
I use iPad to draw but I like it better using paint and brush. To be inspired or to have the urge to create is an instinct, it never has to be learned. Tools keep evolving and being replaced over time, but great ideas don’t. To me, it’s more real to touch the artwork. It has weight, and will not always be perfect –sometimes, the colours absorb the light and fade. It’s like comparing a digital camera to a film camera. Looking through a screen is never the same as looking directly with your eyes. 
You experiment with gifs sometimes, which adds another sense of life to your paintings. Do you have any background experience in audio-visuals or are you self-taught?
Animation is another area I want to explore. I am such a rookie in making animations, but I don't really mind. Sometimes, having the thought of just going for something you are not familiar with and have fun is very relaxing.

When and why did you decide to animate your drawings and what’s the most difficult challenge you face when doing so?
I always draw a still frame; my illustration is like showing you a sentence only and leave you to imagine freely the beginning and the end. But animation is a constant movement, so I have to do the opposite exercise in my brain – of not limiting myself to do all the storytelling in one image. I was on vacation and I was away from my studio without any colours to paint. Then, I took out my laptop and did some gifs – that’s how it started. 
What are you currently working on? What are your plans for the near future?

I am working on a project with my sister on Instagram, 団子 二本 Studio By Pair; as our name, we pair up and create together, working on ideas that we are both excited about. She would write and I come up with visuals. We trust each other and it’s a carefree experiment. We are curious to see where it will lead us.
I recently did some ceramics and I’m very interested in it. Turning my illustrations into 3D requires great loads of learning. I also attended an art book fair in Taipei this year, and I received much encouraging feedback – meeting people off screen is fun. I would like to do more in different cities! Applying for an art residency is also an experience I want to try out soon.

Hisham Tammam

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados