Jiawen Chen is the winner of two cross-category Awards; the SAA Agents Award for New Talent, and the Innovation Award supported by It’s Nice That. Here, she tells us more about her award-winning project.
This is a project that I had completed when I was still earning my Masters degree. These works are a documentation and visualization of some of the pessimism that I have had at that time. I applied the use of metaphor to present them, these thoughts that belong to a realm where language proves insufficient. Because of the self-reflective nature of the project, there are no commissioners but me. My desire to discover the meaning of “self.” After three months of arduous works, a 32-page picture book was born.
I have not set a brief for this project. It is merely an attempt to out-do myself, both artistically and metaphysically.
Since this project is mainly about myself – emotions, identity, their relationship with each other, with rationality, and the world as the Other, I have not done “research” on this project. It’s more of a process of self-inspection.
I used Photoshop for this whole project, there are no traditional materials used.
First, I would try to organize my thoughts into words and put down notes. Then I would start with drafts. After I’ve decided on the sketches that best suit my intention, I would start making a draft of the texts that go with them. At this stage, I have already organized them into a dummy book. After I’ve decided that the overall effect is presentable, I would commence on finalizing every individual work, which will, in the end, make up the finished product of my work.
The most challenging thing would be choosing a suitable metaphor, which could represent my feeling and evoke the empathy of the audience.
The most important thing that I have learned from this project is that I have a better understanding of receptive aesthetic. I can step in the audience’s shoes when viewing my works to see if it achieved the desired effect.
I tried my best to devote myself fully to this project, which I somewhat achieved. So distractions, while do sometimes occur, remain minimum and rare.
I would like to say that 7 is the most important number. Even though this is a 36-page art book that costs me over 3 months of work, the initial week (7 days) that I took to put everything on a sketch is the most memorable.
I am well aware that I was a bit conventional in creating a method, using only photoshop as my drawing tool. If I could do it differently, I would perhaps combine traditional techniques with digital art.
Everyone creates differently; besides, I am no way near being able to give other illustrators advice. All I can say is create, draw whatever you want to draw, and try whatever methods you want to try. The outcome may surprise you.
Everyone creates differently; besides, I am no way near being able to give other illustrators advice. All I can say is create, draw whatever you want to draw, and try whatever methods you want to try. The outcome may surprise you.Due to the pandemic, all my short term plans have been blown right out of the window, so for now, I would say there are no specific plans but to go with the flow. As for my long term plan, it has been, and always will be, to better myself in every conceivable way. To continue to create no matter what.
There is not really a “dream commission” per se. I am open to and passionate about all kinds of commissions.
Favourite thing to draw
There is a lot that I like to draw, but my favourite is to portray something moody.
I worked in my room because I prefer solidarity when I create.
I want to thank my parents for supporting my artistic pursuit. I am forever in debt to them for their devotion.