The world of art, as beautiful as it is, is also, unfortunately, a tough gig. Just ask SzeYun Lo from Vancouver, BC. SzeYun grew up being trained in the Lingnan style of traditional water color painting. Having been trained by some of the most well known and respected instructors and masters of the Lingnan style from Vancouver and Canada, SzeYun has acquired both a deep knowledge and appreciation for this beautiful, yet seemingly dieing art form. She very well could be one of the last (and definitely youngest) artists still practicing this form of art. That, however, has not stopped her from pursing her dreams and goals. Instead, she went about to improve herself, through hard work and dedication, and avidly promote the traditional Lingnan art form and it's rich history. Since 2009, SzeYun has also been documenting her artistic journey on Youtube at her channel syloarts. There, you'll find incredible time lapse videos of the making of some of her pieces (as well as some personal stuff too).
On July 13 SzeYun will be holding her first art show called 'Release The Butterflies' that will both showcase and celebrate her work from the past eighteen years. We recently caught up with SzeYun to discuss her work, the state of art today, and her plans for the future.
FAME: You are still very young, but you already have a deep knowledge of the Lingnan art form. How long have you been making art for?
SYL: I naturally wanted to say off-and-on for the last 18 years, but that's not true because I've been making art for almost all my life, one way or another. Whether it was in school, my spare time, side job, or day job, there's Graphic Arts and there's Fine arts in my life.
FAME: How would you describe your style of art?
SYL: My style is a mix of a lot of things. There is the Traditional Watercolour Painting styles which I was taught since I was a little girl and that is a style from the East and there's the art and art styles, techniques, and history which I learned from school and, having been raised in Greater Vancouver area, would be the art styles of the West. I think my style now would be a fusion of both of these worlds the - the East and the West.
FAME: Different artists have different ways of doing things. What would you say is your creative process?
SYL: I don't think I have a defined creative process. I've tried sketching out ideas before flushing them but sometimes I simply know what is needed to be done and simply just make it into reality.
FAME: What inspires you?
SYL: I can find inspiration in the smallest things sometimes but what inspires me is really good art. And then there are the times I find myself adoring the works of Old Masters. Not just Michelangelo or Leonardo, but even artists that may not be named, but their works of art, like beautifully decorated vases, are on display in museums and are over hundreds of years old, but their features and colors still hold so much detail and quality of a true artisan.
FAME: As we both know art is a tough gig. What are the challenges and obstacles that face artists today?
SYL: I think the world has changed a lot through the years. A long time ago a child with talent would be sent to a specialty school and become an apprentice and come out an artisan; a true professional at their trait. Today there's a big gap in the system and turning a profit matters more than supplying a good quality of art. I think as a Traditional Oriental Watercolour artist, one of the biggest difficulties I face is that the market has been saturated with cheaply produced art sold to make a profit that the general public has become unknowledgeable of how to tell a good piece of Oriental art between a bad one. The second biggest difficulty is simply learning how to survive as an independent artist; finding support for the arts.
FAME: What is your message to all aspiring artists out there today?
SYL: The world would not be as beautiful as it is today without the artists of tomorrow trying to capture it. Artisans have existed for hundreds of years and we are the closest things to dream makers: having the ability to envision an idea and make it come into reality.
FAME: Well said. Ok, what do you have planned for the near future?
SYL: I really don't know what I have for the near future. I've thought of many things. Writing and illustration children's books, starting an art project with my friends which will involve traveling around British Columbia and creating new pieces and working towards the next art show, going back to school and perhaps pursue a career in art therapy, or maybe teaching art. The truth is even though I can imagine me doing all of these things, I can't really solidify any plans for the near future because my eyes are focused on the First Show - 'Release the Butterflies'.
'Release The Butterflies' will be held on July 13, 2013 at The Orpheum Annex in Vancouver, BC. Below is the promo video.