179 + CDICC Artist Spotlight: Yvonne Chan Interview

Welcome to the third installment of 179 + CDICC Artist Spotlight, a 5-month curated art show hosted by Central District Ice Cream Company’s monthly event Ice Cream Thursdaes. Artist Angelina Villalobos aka 179 curated 5 artists through an application process to each show once a month. 179 assists with artist statements, bios, business plans, marketing, and general art goals. Each are then interviewed, allowing us a glimpse into their artistic journey. Finally, their art openings are a great place to meet the artists, check out their work in person, and support their journey with an art purchase.

We’re so ecstatic to present our fourth artist Yvonne Chan for our May 2nd show (INVITE) in CDICC’s new location alongside Happy Grillmore.

Yvonne Chan holding her print Searching. Available on her shop.

How would you describe your art and where do you pull your inspiration from?
Most of my work is colorful, digital illustration using themes of cultural identity, femininity, and seeking solace in a fast-paced, high-pressure world. The style is playful and whimsical, but the concept behind the pieces are often quieter or more contemplative. The concepts are inspired by different moments and feelings in my own life, and I’m constantly inspired by new illustrators and artists that I find online (some of my favorites are Victo Ngai, Maggie Chiang, and Sha’an d’Anthes).

What’s your coming of age art story?
Like a lot of other artists, I loved being creative from a really young age. I was obsessed with crafts as a kid–sewing clothes, making paper flowers, painting everything in sight. Creating things made me feel alive. But coming from an Asian immigrant community, I grew up feeling like I needed to prove that I could succeed in traditional ways (going into science, tech, etc). I don’t think I ever really considered a creative career back then–it just didn’t seem like an option! I didn’t want to “throw away my potential,” so I never took a single art class, and instead focused on math and science.

It took until my senior year in college to realize I would have major regrets if I didn’t seriously pursue a creative career and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. An entrepreneurial-minded friend encouraged me to start an online art shop, and it just grew from there.

You mentioned not pursuing art as a career until later in life, what were you doing creatively up until that point?
In college, I started taking a stray art class here and there, but a lot of my creative work was in theater costume design. I loved drawing and painting costume designs, but I found the actual fabrication of the costumes to be too technical for me. I worked backstage helping the theater department sew and glue things, and while that was fun as a part-time job, the actual costume construction was pretty tedious and I’m too impatient for that!

What are the challenges of being a small business owner, a student, as well as a creative?
Time is by far the hardest part! I’m back in school full-time and I work a lot of hours designing for a marketing agency, so I don’t have a lot of time for much else. In order to do my own creative work, I really have to prioritize. It’s definitely taken a back seat this past year, but I know that this won’t be my schedule forever.

What is the role of social media and technology have in your art process?
I’m as skeptical of social media world as the next person, but it’s been really valuable for me as an artist. It’s a good way to connect to other artists and engage with people who like your work, and also establish your voice.

Your art has a delicate strength to it, is this intentional? How would you describe the world you create?
I don’t know if that’s entirely intentional, but it’s definitely the result of some intentional choices I’ve made. My art (and personality) tends to be in a feminine style and kind of cute, which I used to be self-conscious of; I was worried people wouldn’t take my work seriously or view it very one-dimensionally as cute. I still sometimes worry that my stuff isn’t ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ enough as art. But I don’t think feminine/cute/delicate equates weakness, so I’ve continued to use that style to talk about my own struggles and how I’ve found inner strength.

In your initial application you talk about “lost millennial” can you explain this a little more?
I’m on the younger side of the millennial generation, but feel like I’m part of a group of people that are transitioning to adulthood in the face of a lot of uncertainty–we have way more economic insecurity due to rising housing costs and student debt, and we’re living in a pretty horrifying political climate. I feel like myself and a lot my friends are just like WTF is this world? Like how do we continue to exist in this? I think my work is kind of indirectly about that feeling, and my way of addressing how overwhelming it is to be a young adult right now.

What was your favorite project from 2018?
I made illustrations for a public art installation that’s on display in these huge frames on the side of the Renton Municipal Parking Garage next to the bus terminal. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to see my art printed so large and I’m so excited that it’s just there for the public. I worked with some really generous and supportive people on the Economic Development team at City of Renton, and I’m so grateful they made it happen!

What are your goals for 2019?
I’m hoping to do some murals eventually! Maybe not in the next year, since I still have to graduate, but hopefully after that.

What is your advice for up and coming artists?
Learn how to tell your story. The art rarely stands completely on its own; people are going to be more interested in the art it if they relate to you or feel like they can connect you–so don’t be afraid to share your experiences. Being able to articulate who you are and why you make art makes your work more compelling.

Where can we find your artwork to purchase? What are some important links to follow to keep up with your work?
I have prints for sale on my website: www.yvonnechan.org, where I also have a blog, but the best way to keep up with me is fb (fb.me/yvonnechanart or Instagram @novemberdays_! Don’t hesitate to say hello 🙂

April Ice Cream Thursdae Vol 28
Thursday || 05/02 || 6-9pm || FREE

Featured Artist:
Yvonne Chan Art
IG: @novemberdays_
-Claudia V Designs Claudia V Designs
-Kapatid Kollective Kapatid Kollective
-Ulises Avila @nerdychicano
-Eileen Jimenez Maese: art by Eileen Jimenez
DJ Phenohype


Special thanks to Kryse @ Central District Ice Cream Company!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: