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Passion & Fragility


Mizuki Nishiyama is a Japanese multimedia artist, painter, and poet based in New York City. Currently a student at the Parsons School of Design, Nishiyama creates abstract expressionist works that examine personal experiences, ideas of the extreme, and the concept of human fragility. Nishiyama tells Neocha more about her artwork below.

Mizuki Nishiyama是来自日本的多媒体艺术家、画家和诗人,现居纽约,就读于帕森设计学院(Parsons School of Design)。Nishiyama以抽象表现主义的作品,探讨自己的人生经历,极端的想法和人类脆弱性的概念。最近,Nishiyama和Neocha分享了她对艺术、文化和创意的一些想法。

Snails In Her Eyes
In My Lake of Boulders

Neocha: What first drew you to pursue art?

Nishiyama: My grandma, granduncle, and mother are all painters. Each of them work in different mediums – my grandma uses tennen iwa enogu (powdered minerals) for Nihonga (traditional Japanese art), my granduncle paints with watercolor, and my mother paints with oil. As my family has an artistic background, I presume I’ve been influenced by them. Nevertheless, many of my own personal developments have led me to explore different methods to recreate or make a statement, whether it be through music, dance, or writing. Over time, I’ve realized that painting allows me to create the most accurate representation of what I intend to visualize.

Neocha: 你一开始为什么会对艺术感兴趣?

Nishiyama: 我的祖母、伯祖父和母亲都是画家。他们各自用着不同的媒介来创作。我的祖母用Tennen Iwa Enogu(粉状矿物质)来画日本画(Nihonga,指日本的民族传统绘画),我的伯祖父画水彩画,而我母亲则是画油画。由于我家的艺术背景,我从小就已经受到他们的影响。尽管如此,我个人的很多经历也在促使我去寻求不同的方法来创作或表达,可以是音乐,也可以是舞蹈或写作。慢慢地,我意识到,绘画能最准确表达出我想要可视化的内容。


Neocha: Aside from familial influences, how does Japan and its culture influence your artistic process?

Nishiyama: I was fortunate to have been raised in a culturally diverse environment. My father is from Japan and my mother is from Hong Kong, but they spent a big portion of their lives in Italy. Bouncing between five languages at home and attending a Canadian International School in Hong Kong, I’ve never been able to identify concretely with particular heritages. However, I’ve always had a fondness for Japanese history and culture. By visiting Japan ever so often, I’ve been exposed to traditional arts such as bunraku (traditional Japanese puppet theatre), kabuki (classical Japanese dance-dramas), buyō (traditional Japanese performing arts), and ukiyo-e (an art genre that flourished in Japan between the 17th and 19th century), which have all brought my attention and attraction to classical arts. I’m so grateful to have been brought up with multiple cultural values, as I do realize that I unconsciously blend aspects of all those cultures together.

Neocha: 日本文化对你的作品有什么影响?

Nishiyama: 我很幸运可以在一个多元文化的环境中成长。我的父亲来自日本,而我的母亲来自香港,但他们大部分时间都生活在意大利。在家里,我会在五种语言之间来回切换,加上是在香港的加拿大国际学校读书的,所以,对我来说,我从来都没有特别觉得自己属于哪一种文化。不过,我一直都很喜欢日本的历史和文化。我经常去日本,也接触到很多当地传统艺术,例如文乐(Bunraku)、歌舞伎(Kabuki)、舞踊(Buyō)和浮世绘(Ukiyo-e)、而这些艺术又让我开始注意并喜欢上古典艺术。我很感恩,自己能在这种多元文化的环境中成长,因为我发现,自己会不自觉地将这些不同文化融合在一起。

Peas and Peaches

Neocha: What are some recurrent themes in your artwork?

Nishiyama: I’m a very emotionally driven person. I’m tempestuous, and my thoughts are impassioned. The images that I paint come from a very sensitive and ardent side of my human experience that I simply want to document.

My work covers unconventional topics about the human experience that are intentionally confrontational. I’m extremely intrigued by the rawness of the human psyche when we are vulnerable to our emotions. These feelings help cultivate my creativity through emotional intimacy between myself and the brush. The themes I’ve expressed thus far have been based on personal experiences and spontaneous social issues, often ignored or instinctively disregarded by society.

I started painting as a response to many situations in my life. This allowed me to take a step back, and analyze these situations through a secondary lens. I consider my paintings as somewhat of a visual diary. By looking back at my work, I’ve learned to understand myself better – emotionally and circumstantially.





Tic Tac Toe
Swing Me From The Cantaloupe I Swear To Beckon This Raisin Day

Neocha: How does color play a role in your art? What does color mean to you?

Nishiyama: Selecting the appropriate colors to provoke emotions and amplify messages are constantly on my mind. Themes surrounding my pieces are often quite impassioned, so I tend to naturally grab darker, more vibrant and vivid shades. I am currently experimenting with mediums. I am familiar working with highly pigmented shades, however, I’ve recently begun incorporating gouache, gloss, thickening mediums, as well as glazing to create a variety of looks.

Neocha: 色彩在你的艺术创作中扮演什么角色?色彩对你来说意味着什么?

Nishiyama: 我总是会去思考如何选择合适的色彩来挑动情绪,突显作品想要传达的信息。我的作品主题往往都十分激烈的情感,所以很自然地,我倾向于使用更鲜活生动的暗色调。我目前在尝试用不同的媒介进行创作。我比较擅长用高饱和度的色彩创作,但是最近我也开始使用水粉、光泽涂料、可以增厚质感的媒介,以及透明画法(glazing)来营造同不的效果。

Sunflowers Dream

Neocha: As both a painter and a poet, how does your creative process differ across these two mediums?

Nishiyama: Literature and painting go hand-in-hand when it comes to being able to show an accurate representation of what I intend to document. I’m a big fan of confessional poetry. I do not intend to create flawless stanzas nor sculptured phrases. I have always treated both my paintings and my poems as representative milestones in my life. The commonality would be the emotional heaviness I convey through both mediums.

Neocha: 你身兼画家和诗人两个身份,那么你在分别创作这两个媒介时,会有什么不同的创作思路吗?

Nishiyama: 文学和绘画都能准确表达出我想要记录的内容,在这一点上,两者是一样的。我特别喜欢自白派诗歌(Confessional Poetry)。我不打算创作出完美无瑕的诗节,也不想精雕细琢所用的词语。一直以来,我创作的画和诗都是记录我生命的里程碑。两者的共性在于我透过这两种媒介传达的沉重情感。


Neocha: How has studying in New York City influenced your attitude towards art?

Nishiyama: I became more driven once I started attending the Parsons School of Design, due to constantly being surrounded by highly motivated and creative people. Moving to New York City meant there were going to be a lot of new life changes, and that resulted in many conversational pieces. Nonetheless, Hong Kong, Japan, and New York are all creative, visionary cities to develop one’s art. But I do favor New York simply because it is a new chapter in my life, and there is yet so much more for me to learn and explore.

Neocha: 在纽约学习的经历让你对艺术的态度产生了什么变化?

Nishiyama: 入读美国帕森斯设计学院( Parsons School of Design)后,我变得更有创作的动力,因为身边的人都充满了创作欲望和创意才华的人。搬到纽约后,在生活上自然会发生很多的变化,也因此创作了很多交谈画(Conversational Piece)。虽然香港、日本和纽约都是充满前卫创意的地方,非常适合发展艺术,但我尤其喜欢纽约。原因很简单,它代表着我人生的新篇章,在这座城市有那么多值得我去学习和探索的东西。

Messy Heads

Website: mizukinishiyama.com


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao



供稿人: George Zhi Zhao

Liuba Draws

Based in Beijing, Russian illustrator Liuba Vladimirova draws romantic, idyllic images of the Chinese capital. Originally, Vladimirova moved to China to study Chinese and completed her master’s degree in the city of Shenyang. After graduating, without any jobs lined up, she made the move to Beijing. Looking back, she says, “It was a bold decision. But I guess I was so young, so I didn’t really think about it.” For five years, she worked a full-time job unrelated to art. During this time, her interest in illustration continued to grow, and so, to satisfy her creative needs, she began exploring the many nooks and crannies of Beijing with a notepad in hand.

俄罗斯插画家Liuba Vladimirova目前在北京生活,她以这座中国首都城市为灵感,绘画了一幅幅浪漫和诗意的城市画像。Vladimirova最初来中国是为了学习汉语,在沈阳修读完硕士学位后,在没有任何工作邀请的情况下,她还是毅然去了北京。回忆起当时,她说:“那真是非常大胆的决定。可能自己当时还是太年轻了,也没有想这么多。” 五年来,她做着一份与艺术无关的全职工作。期间,她对插图的兴趣越来越强烈。为了满足自己的创作欲望,她拿起一个本子,开始去探索北京的各个角落。

As Vladimirova continued to spend hours on her art each and every day, she began receiving more and more positive feedback. After much perseverance and hard-work, she eventually became a full-time freelance illustrator and now even runs her own company. Today, her time is split between completing commissioned work, conducting art workshops, and of course, drawing for her own pleasure. But as a self-taught artist, Vladimirova admits that she often still feels lacking in confidence. Regardless, she feels that any anybody who learns a skill by themselves is committing to an admirable endeavor. She says, “They consciously made the choice. They taught themselves. They invested their time to being something purely because they wanted it.” As time went on, her style continued to mature. Now, she’s honed in on an aesthetic that’s uniquely hers, one that’s been sharpened and evolved through countless hours of practice. In her artistic journey, the only thing that’s stayed consistent since the beginning is the preference of using watercolor.


In terms of technique, Vladimirova is inspired by artists like Carson Ellis, Lizzy Stewart, and Yelena Bryksynkova. Outside of these big-name artists, she speaks fondly of conversing with other like-minded professional illustrators in her early days as a working artist. “These were people similar to me,” she recalls with excitement. “They thought in similar categories as me! They saw the world through the same artistic lens and appreciate colors and shapes from the aesthetic point of view.”

在创作技巧方面,Vladimirova的灵感主要来自于Carson Ellis,Lizzy Stewart和Yelena Bryksynkova这些知名艺术家。除此之外,还有她早期与其他志同道合的专业插画师之间的交流。她说:“他们都是和我一样的人,我们有相似的想法,会用相同的艺术角度看世界,从审美的角度来欣赏颜色和形状!”

For subjects matters, much of Vladimirova’s inspirations come from the city of Beijing, or more specifically, the hutongs of the city. In her works, she beautifully depicts the day-to-day life and persevering traditions of the ancient city. She describes the attraction to these scenes as a fascination with the “romantic side of a simpler life.” Today, as the city continues to grow, many of the places that she’s drawn in the past or planned to draw in the future have completely changed or altogether disappeared. However, Vladimirova remains optimistic, excited by the dynamic nature of China. With a smile, she proclaims, “You never know what is going to happen next!”


Instagram: @liubadraws


Contributor: Anastassia Ilina

Instagram: @liubadraws


供稿人: Anastassia Ilina

Endangered Species

Manila-based creative director Patrick Cabral began his Delicate Papercuts series in 2016. His desire was to explore and develop new techniques in the age-old art of paper cutting. Working with layers of vellum board and watercolor paper, Cabral creates stunningly intricate artworks that range from stunning portraits to intricate typography.

2016年,马尼拉创意总监Patrick Cabral开始创作名为《Delicate Papercuts系列的精致剪纸。他的愿望是从古老的剪纸艺术中探索和研究出新的创作技艺。Cabral通过薄纸板和水彩纸的层叠,创造出肖像或艺术字体剪纸等令人惊艳的精致艺术品。

In 2017, Cabral launched a special series in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature and Acts of Kindness, extending his original project to include some of the faces of the world’s most endangered animals. Many of the animals in his Endangered Species series are native to Asia, including tigers, pangolins, elephants, dholes, tamaraws, rhinoceroses, snow leopards, and pandas. Upon completing the series, Cabral happily remarked that the star of his final portrait, the panda, was no longer listed as an endangered species as of 2017. Scroll down and see the complete project below.

2017年,Cabral 携手世界自然基金会Acts of Kindness机构,为世界上最濒危的稀有动物创作了一系列头部剪纸作品。这个名为《Endangered Species》(濒危动物)系列中的许多动物都来自亚洲,包括老虎、穿山甲、大象、亚洲豺犬,塔摩洛水牛、犀牛、雪豹和熊猫。完成这个系列的创作之后,Cabral高兴地表示,他最后创作的大熊猫在 2017 年已经不再是濒危物种。下面一起来欣赏Cabral完整的动物剪纸系列吧。



供稿人: Whitney Ng



供稿人: Whitney Ng

Between Dreams & Reality

Jenny Yu is a Chinese-American artist and illustrator based in Los Angeles, California. She is the environment concept artist at Mindshow, an app for creating, sharing, and experiencing shows in VR. Her digital illustrations create worlds that border between the edges of fantasy and reality, expressing whimsical moments through lighting, color, and shape.

Jenny Yu是一位来自洛杉矶的美籍华人艺术家和插画家。她是Mindshow(一个创作、分享和体验VR动画电影的应用)的环境概念艺术家。她的数字插图呈现出一个界乎于幻想和现实之间的世界,通过光线、颜色和形状来演绎种种奇妙的瞬间。

Yu’s most notable influence is Hayao Miyazaki, but others include Yuri Norstein, Makoto Shinkai, Kazuo Oga, and Kevin Dart. In addition to animation, she looks towards film, cinematography, and photography for inspiration, citing the late Chinese director and photographer Fan Ho as another one of her influences.

对Jenny Yu的创作影响最深的是日本动画大师宫崎骏,除此之外,还有俄罗斯动画导演Yuri Norstein,新海诚(Makoto Shinkai),男鹿和雄(Kazuo Oga)和美国动画人Kevin Dart 等等。除了动画,电影、电影摄影和摄影作品也启发着她的创作。她表示已故中国导演和摄影师何藩也是一位对她影响很大的创意人之一。

In addition to studying the works of other artists, Yu takes inspiration from her own life and memories. She says, “Most of my inspiration comes from feelings and experiences from childhood that I selfishly want to preserve and the ephemera of moments.” Taking seemingly ordinary moments from everyday life, she manages to create images that are nostalgic, magical, and fleeting – images that she hopes will help “soften the edges of living.”

除了研究其他艺术家的作品之外,Jenny Yu也会从自己的生活和回忆中寻找灵感。她说:“我的大部分灵感来自于童年时期自己尤其珍视的心情和经历,以及每个时刻的稍纵即逝性。”她将看似平凡的日常生活场景,创作成充满怀旧风格和奇妙魅力的瞬间性画像,希望这些画像可以“朦胧美化现实的生活”。



Contributor: George Zhi Zhao

Behance: ~/jennyyuu


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao

The Snacks of Singapore

Singaporean cuisine is a culinary melting pot that consists of influences from a variety of Asian ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan, Thai and Sri Lankan. Multiculturalism has permeated to the very core of Singaporean cuisine and a wide spectrum of dishes can be found throughout the country, from traditional hawker centers to trendy coffee shops. Singaporean illustrator Lee Xi Li cites Singaporean culture as his biggest inspiration, and the young illustrator has created a series of colorful cartoons that showcase many of the country’s favorite snacks.


Lee was inspired to draw after discovering the likes of Herge’s Adventures of Tin Tin, Fujiko Fujio’s Doraemon by, and Guy Delisle’s travel chronicles. His background in architecture also plays a part in his creative process; each illustration is created with a balance of playfulness and artistic precision.

比利时漫画家Herge 的《丁丁历险记》,藤子不二雄的《哆啦A梦》和 Guy Delisle的旅行故事都是当初启发他开始画插画的作品。他曾修读建筑学,这一点对于他的创作也有所影响。他的插图作品充分平衡了娱乐性和艺术性。


Kueh can be likened to a type of bite-sized cake that features ingredients such as coconut, pandan leaf, and gula melaka, which are all native to Southeast Asia. “I was fascinated by the plethora of kueh from the various cuisines around Southeast Asia. (Drawing) each piece led to the discovery of kueh I never knew.”


“粿”是一种精致的小糕点,一般用椰子、香兰叶和椰糖制成,这些都是东南亚的特色食材。 “东南亚地区有各种不同的’粿’,其品种之多令我着迷。(绘画)每一种‘粿’的过程中,我发现了很多原来不认识的品种。“

Lunar New Year

Traditional snacks play an important role in the Lunar New Year, they’re not only treats made available for visitors but also carefully chosen because of the good luck they represent.



Lo Hei Yusheng

Lee has also illustrated the traditional dish of yusheng, or otherwise known as the “prosperity toss,” which is a prevalent tradition within Southeast Asia. Each component of the salad is coupled with a fortuitous idiom and is usually enjoyed before each meal during the Lunar New Year period.




While mooncakes may appear similar on the outside, each cake can differ based on regionality. There are a wide variety of textures, ingredients and cooking methods that are used to create these Mid-Autumn Festival treats.


Proving that sweet treats in Thailand are more than mango sticky rice and red ruby, Lee drew a wide variety of other khanom, which is a Thai term for snacks and desserts. These delicacies include khanom baa bin, a Thai coconut cake; khanom tuay fu, a steamed muffin; khanom tien, a triangular stuffed dough with filling; and many more.




为了证明泰国的甜点不只有芒果糯米饭和“红宝石”,Lee 还创作了一幅 “Khanom” (Khanom即是泰语中甜品小吃的意思)这些美食包括以椰子为原料制成的糕点khanom baa bin、色彩斑斓的泰国蒸米糕khanom tuay fu、类似中国粽子的三角形甜品khanom tien以及更多让你食指大动的泰国小吃。

Dim Sum

Hong Kong-style dim sum is also widely available around Singapore. Lee decided to illustrate some dim sum trolley classics such as the har gao, or shrimp dumplings; char siew bao, otherwise known as barbecue pork buns; and siu maai, which are tiny steamed dumpling. There are also lesser known classics on the illustration, such as beef stomach, duck feet, and taro dumplings.



Beyond illustrating local snacks, Lee also contributes to a variety of local projects that celebrate Singaporean culture.”Growing up in Singapore, I’m most aware of the ever-changing landscape. It was my love for illustration that led me to rediscover my country,” he says. His latest illustration is a movie poster for 667, an anthology of short films by five Singaporean directors who each undergo a journey into their cultural heritage and explain how Singapore became their home.

除了展示当地小吃外,Lee也为各种新加坡文化项目贡献了力量。他说:“在新加坡长大,我感受着这里日新月异的风景。也正是我对插画的热爱让我再一次重新认识这座城市。 ”他的最新插画作品是一部名为《回程667》的电影海报,这部短片是由五位新加坡导演拍摄,并且他们都经历了一次文化遗产之旅以及体会到新加坡如何发展成为他们现在的家。

Website: leexinli.com
Behance: ~/PokPokandAway
Facebook: ~/PokPokAway
Instagram: @xinli29288


Contributor: Whitney Ng

网站: leexinli.com
Behance: ~/PokPokandAway
脸书: ~/PokPokAway
Instagram: @xinli29288


供稿人: Whitney Ng


Kim Sunkyung and Jeong Wonjun are the creative duos behind the South Korea-based art collective Sailors Studio. Their newest photography series, Conversation, features delicately distorted portraits that are projected across a fleeting cloth, tossed into twilight landscapes. The duo began experimenting with this fluid portrayal of the human face in their earlier photo series, Floating Life, where the cloth acted as “a screen to absorb a variety of images which tell the story of life and death”.

Kim SunkyungJeong Wonjun 是韩国艺术工作室Sailors Studio的两名艺术家。他们的最新摄影系列《对话》(Conversation),将精美的人像投射于飘逸的布料上,映衬暮色的风景背景。在早期的摄影系列《浮动生活》(Floating Life)中,他们第一次尝试创作这种充满液态动感的人像作品,用布料“作为屏幕,展现一系列影像,讲述有关生命和死亡的故事”。

From the Floating Life series
From the Floating Life series
From the Floating Life series

Whilst their previous photo series explored the themes of life and death, Conversation focuses solely on the former and delves into the topic of self-discovery. The work was originally inspired by French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ conception of responsibility, which states that being human meant that one is responsible for someone other than oneself, known as “the Other.” The cloth that is tossed into the air depicts one’s relationship with the Other, with each moment captured symbolizing a conversation. Through these portraits, “one finds one’s essence through the Other.” See the complete series below.

尽管他们以前的摄影作品探讨了生与死的主题,而这一次在《对话》中,他们只关注前者,深入探讨自我发现的主题。深受法国哲学家伊曼纽尔·莱维纳斯(Emmanuel Levinas)的责任观的启发,其中指出,作为人类,对他人的责任是与对自己的责任所不同的,这一点可以被称为“对方”。通过捕捉交谈中的每一个瞬间的特征,所完成的肖像告诉我们,“我们可以通过对方发现自我的本质”。下面一起来欣赏一下这一系列的作品吧。



Contributor: Whitney Ng



供稿人: Whitney Ng

Designing Happiness

Since arriving in Tokyo, Duncan Shotton has set about bestowing happiness around the world, one little hand-painted push pin at a time. Five years ago, in 2012, Shotton set up his own design studio in Japan. Since then, many aspects of his adopted home have served as inspiration. From holding his first pop-up shop in a tree within Tokyo’s Harajuku district to rethinking the humble soy sauce dish, Shotton has the ability to turn the everyday into the extraordinary.

2012年来到东京之后,英国设计师Duncan Shotton一直通过自己对平常生活的小用品的创意设计(譬如手绘小图钉),在世界各地传播快乐的精神。五年前,Shotton在日本成立设计工作室,日本的许多方面启发了他的创意灵感。不论是他在东京原宿区一棵树上开设的第一家概念性快闪店(pop-up shop),或是他对酱油碟的重新演绎,Shotton一直着眼于将平凡的小用品变得不平凡。


In Japan, it’s considered rude to wear shoes indoors. This custom is so deeply embedded into Japanese culture that many apartments come with a built-in sunken porch at the entrance. Shotton was inspired by stepping stones that he saw in Kyoto and designed Tobiishi as a clean space that serves as a stable treading spot for people greeting guests or accepting deliveries.


在日本,在室内穿鞋都是不礼貌的。这种习俗在日本文化中影响很深,以至于许多公寓在入口处都会设有一个“ 凹陷式门廊”。Shotton以自己在京都看到的垫脚石 为灵感,设计出Tobiishi,为人们在门口迎接客人或签收包裹时提供一个干净、稳固的踩点。

Soy Shape

Noticing that the natural color of soy sauce takes on a gradient form when poured into a shallow dish, Shotton designed these delightful dipping sauce dishes to give off the illusion of 3D shapes, giving an extra “dimension” to every sushi eating experience.

Soy Shape


Sticky Page Markers

This stationary series allows every bibliophile to build adorable landscapes from their favorite pages. From the iconic junk boats of Hong Kong sailing around the harbor to the infamous Godzilla monster terrorizing downtown, these page markers are sure to be a favorite amongst bookworms.

Sticky Page Markers


Shotton continues to work from Tokyo, collaborating with Japanese companies and sticking to a small production scale to maintain a high level of quality. His latest project, Planet Pins and the Moon – which is comprised of a hand-painted solar system and complete with a hand-casted concrete moon push pin – is now available for pre-order.

Shotton目前仍在东京生活,他与日本企业合作,坚持小规模的产量,以保证最佳质量。他最新的作品Planet Pins and the Moon是一组太阳系行星主题的手绘图钉,以及一颗用纯手作的混凝土月球图钉,现在已经开放预订。

Website: dshott.co.uk
Facebook: ~/DuncanShottonDesignStudio
Instagram: @_dshott


Contributor: Whitney Ng

网站: dshott.co.uk
脸书: ~/DuncanShottonDesignStudio
Instagram: @_dshott


供稿人: Whitney Ng

Scratching the Surface

Vhils is a Portuguse artist who has developed a unique visual language based on the removal of the surface layers of walls and other media with non-conventional tools and techniques. Coming from a background in graffiti, his work establishes symbolic reflections on identity, life in the urban context, the passage of time, and the relationship of interdependence between people and the surrounding environment. Currently based in Hong Kong, Vhils has developed a prolific series of works across the city. See below for a selection from the artist.

葡萄牙艺术家Vhils 通过凿刻墙壁表面,利用非常规的媒介工具,塑造出一种独特的视觉语言。他从涂鸦开始进行艺术创作,其作品展现了对身份认同、城市生活、时间流逝以及人与周边环境之间的相互依存关系的思考。Vhils目前生活在香港,并已经在香港街头拥有丰富的作品。一起来欣赏一下他的精选作品吧。

Website: vhils.com
Instagram: @vhils
Facebook: ~/vhils1


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao

A Tender Sadness

Nowadays, it’s all too common to see a piece of artwork get passed around the internet without any credits attached to the creator. One particular artist who often encounters this issue is sheep, a Chinese illustrator who purposefully stylizes his moniker with a lowercase “s.” But unlike most other artists, sheep doesn’t particularly mind – he’s more concerned with making art than the recognition that follows. His illustrations are peculiar; they’re beautifully illustrated, but the beauty is layered with a sense of melancholy and unease. The characters of sheep’s world are often depicted in their most vulnerable state, but they still remain eager on sharing their untold stories.


On first glance, some of sheep’s work might reveal hints of a Japanese influence behind the aesthetic. He explains, saying that one of his biggest inspirations is Hyakki Yagyo, a Japanese folklore about a night where a hundred different demons roam the streets, but his influences actually come from other sources that extend beyond Japanese culture, such as the fictitious worlds depicted in the Chinese books Classic of Mountains and Seas and In Search of the Supernatural. “When I was still a student, the works of a few Japanese manga artists really resonated with me,” he says. “So in terms of the technique and subjects I experimented with back then, it was influenced by Japanese culture. But for my newer works, I never stop and think if anything feels Japanese or Chinese – I’m simply interested in creating art with an overall Eastern aesthetic, art that transcends the boundaries of time and geography.”


As we discussed his background and initial interest with Japanese culture, sheep shared that one of his favorite fairy tales as a child was Mimei Ogawa’s The Mermaid and the Red Candles. The story is about a baby mermaid that was left at a shrine and discovered by an old couple from a seaside village who never had children of their own. The couple, who ran a candlemaking business, took the mermaid in and raised her. As the mermaid grew up, she helped the family business by drawing pictures of the ocean on the candles. Soon, these drawing made their candles quite famous in the area. Rumors about good luck blessing those who bought and lit her candles at the nearby shrine began to spread, leading to more people buying the candles. Hearing these rumors, a businessman convinced the couple that mermaids were bad luck and bought the mermaid from them. After, he locked in the mermaid in a cage and quickly left with her on a ship. On the same night, a violent storm sunk the ship. From that point on, the couple’s candles became a symbol of bad luck. All of the fishermen who bought the candles in the past all suffered an ill fate. Their candle business soon ended. Not many years later, the city became deserted, eventually turning to ruins. Legend has it now, fishermen passing by the ruins of the town would sometimes see a faintly glowing red candlelight drifting around the shrine.


The Mermaid and the Red Candles doesn’t have a happy ending or a sense closure. There’s no repentance or redemption, but it does leave plenty of room for personal interpretations. And in a way, it’s similar to sheep’s artwork now, which all have concisely constructed narratives that still leave much to the imagination of viewers. In Narcissus, sheep’s latest compilation book of his recent works, he even features an illustration based on Ogawa’s story.


Despite sheep’s impressive illustrative works, his interests and skills have gone beyond illustration alone. He originally comes from a background in ceramic design and has always been infatuated with sculpting. Eager to break the constraint of mediums, he began learning how to make sculptures and figurines by himself. His White Deer sculpture is even based off an earlier illustration of his. As part of the project, he also enlisted the help of photographer Ko Rou, to stage and set up a variety of scenes with the completed figurine.


As our discussion meandered and we began chatting about the movie Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, sheep comments that he believes art often conveys messages that surpass the original intent of the work. “Creation is like eating. It’s to satisfy an appetite. Completing an idea gives you an unparalleled sense of gratification. When I’m creating, I don’t immediately define what concepts or ideas I want to convey through it. When other people view my work, they might be looking at an authentic piece of my soul, but to them, it could be completely meaningless.”


Weibo: ~/ssheepp


Contributor: Shou Xing
Images Courtesy of sheep & Ko Rou

微博: ~/ssheepp


供稿人: Shou Xing

Vans Custom Culture Asia

Vans has brought the Custom Culture Competition to Asia for the first time ever this year. With a well-established reputation for individualism and self-expression, the Vans brand spirit is perfectly embodied through this competition. Working with the goal of rallying Asia’s creative community and providing a new platform to help showcase the region’s burgeoning creators, the contest invites everyone to flaunt their creativity for a chance to see their design make its way onto a pair of these iconic canvas shoes.

今年,Vans 首次将 Custom Culture 鞋履设计比赛带到亚洲。这一比赛充分体现了Vans 一向推崇个性化和自我表现的品牌精神,致力凝聚亚洲创意社区,为新兴艺术家提供一个新的创意平台。比赛邀请一众亚洲艺术家,尽情发挥他们的设计创意, 获奖者的设计将会被用于设计该品牌的全新帆布鞋产品。

For the competition, Vans has invited various respected artists from around Asia as both mentors and judges. Mentors will help the selected finalists to flesh out and complete their final design. These mentors include Chinese visual artist Lin Wenxin, South Korean illustrator Original Punk, Hong Kong-based woodworking atelier Start from Zero, Singapore-based husband-and-wife creative duo Sabotage, self-taught Malaysian street artist Fritilldea, and India-based street artist duo Varsha Nair. Judges include renowned San Francisco-based illustrator Jay Howell, Nini Sum of the Shanghai-based artist duo IdleBeats, plus many more.

在今年比赛中, Vans邀请了亚洲各地备受推崇的艺术家作为导师和评委。导师将帮助决赛选手改善其设计作品。这些导师包括来自重庆的视觉艺术家林文心, 韩国插画家Original Punk, 香港木艺画室Start from Zero, 新加坡夫妻组合艺术家Sabotage, 自学成才的马来西亚街头艺术家Fritilldea和印度街头艺术家组合Varsha Nair。评委则包括来自旧金山的著名插画家Jay Howell,来自上海 IdleBeatsNini Sum等等。

For the chosen winner, in addition to seeing their design brought to life and made available as a limited-edition item throughout Asia, they’ll also receive a grand prize of $2,000 USD and the opportunity to co-host a global House of Vans workshop with their respective mentor. Submissions are open from now until July 31st. Click here to learn more. Be sure to submit an entry before it’s too late!

比赛获胜者除了其设计会被用在品牌于整个亚洲限量发售的全新产品上之外, 还将获得2000美元的奖金。比赛投稿现在已经开始,将一直持续到731日。点击这里,了解更多。记得在截止日期前递交你的参赛作品哦!

Website: vans.com/customcultureasia


Contributor: David Yen
Images Courtesy of Vans



供稿人: David Yen