3 Minutes with Chang Yu
猪の画室 PIGOLOGIST™ aka 吴常瑀 Wu Chang Yu is an artist born and raised in Singapore, with a penchant for all things nostalgic. An old soul who draws inspiration from days long gone, vintage memories mean more to her than just faded furnishings and old movies.
Creating a colourful universe full or irony and humour, Chang Yu’s illustrations juxtapose joy against melancholy, hope against courage, all set against a backdrop of loveable characters. Her keen observation of everyday quirks provides her with an endless supply of inspiration and fuels her ability to create memorable visual landscapes, representing life in all its layers and contrasts.
Her one-piece hang, GREED, will be unveiled tomorrow at SPRMRKT Daily so in the mean time, we dig a little deeper into the porcine world of Chang Yu…
1) Growing up, were you always interested in art?
I suppose yes. I was always switching between arts club and sports in school. I once thought I might be able to have a “glamorous” sports career as I’m from the school team and doing pretty well. I grew up watching black and white, vintage cartoons, muppet shows and Doraemon comics. When I started my years in design school, I immersed myself in photography, animations, design and films. It was in my mid 20s that I narrowed my focus on the art of illustration.
2) What were some of the earliest influences and motivations that inspired you to become an artist/illustrator?
Girl With Cigarette by Yoshitomo Nara (Picture credit: Widewalls)
3) Your art works engage such a distinct aesthetic, often nostalgic and witty—do you have a particular source of inspiration?
I believe my fondness for all things vintage—from furniture to movie posters—does influence my art style. I find joy in injecting some melancholy and elements that reveal the dark side of humanity, to my often cute, quirky-looking characters. Some might not notice the disguise and irony but I like this contrast in my works. My inspirations come from daily observations and reads.
4) How do you begin designing a character? Do you begin with a story in mind?
Yes it always begins with a story and topic in focus that I want to express strongly. Then I package the story—which is often not a cute and happy one—in the guise of a cute-looking character. I do sometimes design genuinely happy characters for mass appeal too.
5) What is your work process? Do you begin on paper, or through sketches?
I begin with a few sketches. Often the big picture of the finished piece is projected in my mind before sketch.
6) How many times do you tend to draw a character until it’s “right”?
Once or twice.
7) What do you consider the most indispensable item in your creative process from imagination to creation?
Brain, pen, paper and conscience. I hate plagiarism. I have little respect for artists who rip off the work of others.
8) Which was the first artwork you ever created, and which you ever sold?
A piece from my <Not so HapPig Days>, titled UNPLUG. It’s a digital illustration of a puppet. I started getting some overseas exposure with this and another artwork, through 3×3 International Illustration ProShow (Annual 8).
UNPLUG by PIGOLOGIST
A puppet is an artificial figure representing a human being or an animal, manipulated by the hand, rods and wires. It’s crafted by man for performance on a stage. It’s existence and characteristics was designed and given by the creator. What if the puppet was capable of experiencing its own feelings and even senses? Would it want to abide by the rules of the creator? One of the puppets had decided to unplug itself. It disappeared into the deepest void.
9) Do you have a favourite character from all your illustrations?
I’ve used puppets more than once in my digital illustration and acrylic painting. I suppose I like puppets alot—perhaps it’s the artificial intelligence in Disney’s Pinocchio that made me fall in love with it.
To Be Real by PIGOLOGIST
10) Which living artist/illustrator do you find most inspiring? Why?
Fujiko F. Fujio. He created an imaginary friend and world for all of us.
Fujiko F. Fujio, nom de plume of manga writing duo, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko—the creators of Doraemon.
11) Are there any artists/illustrators, living or dead, which you would like to collaborate with?
A Japanese sculptor, Ishibashi Yui.
Human Nature sculptures by Japanese artist, Ishibashi Yui. (Photo credit: Ishibashi Yui)
12) Are you working on any new projects?
Yes. It’s a secret for now.
13) If you could choose any other profession or life calling, what would it be?
A profession to serve the masses, preferably in the mental and health sector.
14) Where do you see your career in 10 years?
I get nervous with a question like this.
15) Living or dead, which artists/illustrators will you invite to your ideal dinner party?
Fujiko F. Fujio and you and everyone.
16) Finally, what does Pigologist really mean?
PIGOLOGIST is one who studies the behaviour and mind of pigs.