LEONARD PENG

leonard pengCH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

LP: My work is very shape driven. I enjoy the diversity using shape gives to pieces in character designs and also backgrounds. Geometric compositions, bright colors, printmaking and graphite textures are things I also consider when making a piece. I especially like the way digital flats look combined with traditional textures. I’m currently working digitally as it allows me to explore more color choices.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

LP: Buddhist wall murals have always been my biggest source of inspiration. I’m enamored by the idea of having small narratives at work within a larger piece. Also, the shapes used in fashion illustration from the 1910’s, Bauhaus architecture, and contemporary type posters have all inspired composition in my work.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork

LP: I usually start by envisioning the image I want to create in my head. Most of my recent projects have been moments from my life that I wanted to recreate in an illustration. I like to begin with color compositions, and then I see which one matches the imagery in my head. When I see something I like, I expand on the thumbnail and finish the piece.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

LP: I want people to be moved when they see my artwork. There’s so many ways for any viewer to interpret a piece due to different life experiences or tastes, and I think getting to inspire that in others is one of the best parts of making art. As long as someone feels something when they view my work, I’m already satisfied.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

LP: I’ve always found it easier to work on projects at night because when it’s bright outside there is usually a ton of stuff I have to do, so my lifestyle is pretty spontaneous without much of a routine.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

LP: I usually have a starting point, like an idea or imagery that’s stuck in my head. I’m also obsessed with having gallery shows so I always consider what a group of work with the same theme would look like together. That usually fuels my art making. The only obstacle is actually producing the pieces!

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

LP: Be social. As artists we so often are focused on what we’re making that we disregard what is happening outside of our studios. A lot of my pieces are influenced by interactions with my friends. I think it’s important to talk to others, not only because it’s a nice break from your work, but also cause it’s nice having people you trust to critique you!

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

LP: Definitely. Your style and taste defines you and makes you unique.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

LP: Telling my parent’s friends what I do for a living!  Just kidding. I think one of the biggest obstacles I have is translating what I see in my head into a finished piece. I always want to re-create what I think but it is always such a struggle.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

LP: I love being able to physically make an idea into something visible. It’s really satisfying to see a piece convey what you are thinking, and that’s what I love most about being an artist.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

LP: Erté, Kai Nielsen, Kiraz, and Maurice Sendak are the most influential illustrators in my life.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

LP: Technology is definitely a useful asset for artists today, especially illustrators. Drawing digitally has especially made color decisions easier as I can use colors I wouldn’t normally use or mix when painting. Also, advances in printing have allowed us to show our work on more than just paper.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

LP: I think the only difference is that I constantly feel the itch to recreate little moments from my day-to-day life as illustrations.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

LP: I LOVE traveling. I’m always really inspired to create by visiting different cities and especially eating new food. Two summers ago I traveled to Shangri-La, a county in Yunnan, China, which contained murals that influenced my art the most.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

LP: My favorite book will always be The Little Prince. I’ve started reading Kafka by the Shore by Murakami and there’s so much imagery that I want to draw when I’m done.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

LP: When I switched over to working digitally I completely stopped painting traditionally, mainly in the interest of saving time, but also because it’s easier to explore different styles when you can so easily adjust what you’re doing. I want to take all that I’ve learned doing digital back into painting.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

LP: Being an artist means I get to be selfish and create things I like.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

LP: The only thing I can think of right now is that I hope as my work changes in the future it will still be recognizable as mine!

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