Could you please introduce yourself and share any hidden talents or something most people wouldn’t know about you?
My name is Angela and I’m an artist from Sydney. I studied Design in Visual Communications while freelancing which led me to some internships and design jobs. I’ve now co-created a studio called ar-chive with my partner Rowland. We spend most of our week bringing ideas to life in the form of art direction, graphic design, photography, video production and illustration. I enjoy singing and cooking and I’m one of those people who have a distinct fear of holes.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I see it on this continual momentum of growth. I hope to keep creating and expressing myself through different mediums to connect to others.
What are you working on at the moment? Any big plans coming up?
Currently I’m mostly working on projects through ar-chive – a mural, large canvas commission and video work with a Love Below. Got some exciting plans around the corner but can’t give any more details just yet! At the moment aiming to keep doing what we’re doing and seeing where it leads.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)
Definitely. Throughout my practice I have tried to not limit myself to a particular way of creating, rather see what fits for the concept. This has come across as a challenge before (and probably still now) particularly in illustration. As I have a background in design as well, I am adaptable to multiple ‘styles’ through which I can communicate ideas, which at the same time lessens my ‘specialty’ and recognisable element. In that sense I have hoped people work with me from knowing how I work rather than what I do.
I can be quite self-critical so that can sometimes affect my confidence in my work. When I feel stuck, it takes some time to get out of that head space so it’s important to be realistic and notice any unnecessary pressure I’m putting on myself. I’ve also found it hard to say no to clients and so I’m learning how to communicate that when I need to...and the internal conflict if I don’t. I think this is one of the most important skills to have when you’re an artist, to be able to hold up to your own values, worth and integrity and detaching from a mentality that glorifies pleasing everyone.
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
Body confidence is being aware of yourself, accepting what you’ve been given, and taking care of it. I’ve often felt disconnected from my body which has affected my confidence, but being more aware of the power of my mind has helped me see my body as a vessel in which I live and have learnt to love.
What’s your idea of empowerment?
Empowerment is grounded in your growth from past experiences and to trust in yourself to the core without fear of what other people may think. Being empowered is to allow this energy guide you to make decisions and to connect to others.
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
In a society that magnifies a selfish mindset which can often be isolating, inclusivity is very important to keep alive the idea of community and support. It means being vulnerable to the people around you, listening to them and being humble to learn from each other. Finding like-minded people is important for my sense of inclusion and feeling understood however meeting people with other opinions, insights or life experiences brings upon a greater perspective to draw from.
What inspires your style of art? What are the best ways you've found that have refined your practice?
Although it is sometimes a challenge, not having to stick to a particular style inspires me. I enjoy exploring different ways to best express myself and my ideas in that point in time. Occasionally it works the other way too - as I try new techniques I become inspired to play and will depend on trusting my intuition which often leads to new ideas. The most helpful thing I’ve realised in creating my work is to come from an honest place. As I keep refining myself and growing as a multifaceted artist I believe my art practice will change and develop too.
Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?
I think all the competition has stemmed from inside my head through insecurity of my own craft and worth. I’ve learnt that if what I am trying to convey is from a pure intention, people will relate and I’ll find my crowd organically. I can’t let feelings of comparison or manifested competition distract from what I am creating.
How do you deal with the dreaded comparison bug?
Comparing myself to others has never lead me anywhere productive. Doesn’t mean I don’t catch myself doing it though! When I realise I’m doing this and am getting a sense of doubt which leads to a lack of motivation, I try to find where it stems from. Usually Instagram or being in front of the screen for too long. I take some time away from it to regroup, see where I can create more balance in my day to day and talk to someone about it. Acknowledging is hard to do but the action I take after is most important.
Do you have any mantras or words to live by?
It’s ok to say no and you don’t need validation for your feelings.
What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?
You’re stronger than you realise.
Your dream job/project/collaboration – tell us about it? (Have you already worked your dream job?)
Creating with my best friend everyday on all sorts of interesting and challenging projects for and with people that appreciate and respect us has been a dream and the greatest collaboration so far, which I am fortunate to be my reality at the moment with ar-chive. We’d love to work with Jil Sander and Olafur Eliasson on something impactful and memorable and more art direction for music artists.
How has your work and practice developed over time?
I think I’ve just noticed the transience of my work. In the last few years I’ve realised anything I make is not going to be the final thing that I make. Therefore it lightens the pressure that I put on myself that seeks perfection and validation from others. After learning how much I subconsciously felt bound to a particular style or this idea of ‘personal branding’ and now being able to let that perception go...I’m finally creating things that make ME feel something! The essence of creating in the first place is to express something and I feel like I am finally doing that.
What or who have been some of your main creative influences?
Travelling has always influenced the way I create - being able to be an observer in the spaces around me. I think the music I listen to while creating influences what I make too - a mix of soul, jazz and instrumental artists.
I’m very fortunate to have found a group of friends who inspire me and motivate me to do better and to push myself. They come from all creative backgrounds too, and together we are on the pursuit for something that is becoming a pivotal moment in each of our lives. They’ve instilled a drive in me that, for the first time, I need to know myself better first and that in turn enables me to create my best work so far.
Who’s work are you currently loving right now and why?
Currently I am enjoying the work of Carlotta Guererro for her expressive art direction and composition, Carl Jan Cruz for the silhouettes he creates with clever dressmaking, and Wasei, who’s abstract paintings evoke a balance of unease and comfort within self reflection.
While I was in Japan, I was able to see the work of Charles-Eduoard Jenneret and the work he created with Amédée Ozenfant. I love that there was again that sense of not having to stick to one medium and that he had this whole other life in painting and writing before becoming the architect he is known by.
Where have been your favourite places to travel and have those places influenced your work?
So far I have only really travelled to cities - Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York. I think they have influenced my work at some point, each of these cities has produced different representation of my sense of being an observer. Visiting New Zealand produced a different sense of awe and wonder and expressed in my work but I have a bit of a different approach now so I’d love to travel to be in more nature in the future and see where that takes me.
As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?
I think growing up I’ve been focused on my physical body and appearance, being swayed by society’s ideal sense of beauty. Being an Australian born Chinese, I didn't really have much representation in the media or surrounding me in a mostly causacian neighbourhood, and so always felt like I didn’t quite fit into the “norm”. I didn’t love my body as I should have during highschool and often sought out validation from others. I used to think being confident meant being skinny - or being skinny would bring me confidence - but that wasn’t a sustainable way of thinking. Since then I have learnt to accept my body for being simply that - my body - and learn to take care of my mind and what I allow into it. My confidence now comes from my mental strength as I learn from experience and delve into finding my truth that grounds my decisions and how I present myself.
Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago?
I have such a love hate relationship with social media. I’ve deleted facebook, it wasn’t adding anything into my life...and I think that’s where I draw the line with how I use Instagram now. I used to see it as “everything” - a place to build my business as an artist where I ended up getting too caught up and putting pressure on myself to create what ‘people want to see’..to disconnecting, to reconnecting. This really affected the way I saw my work and my worth. I think now I know most importantly is to nurture the relationships I have in real life and to check in with myself rather than how I am portrayed online. I still see it as a powerful platform to share and connect to others, however I am aware of how it can affect me negatively so am more cautious using it. I realised most of my clients have come from word of mouth anyway - so for me it is more important to talk directly to people and share what I have been up to rather than just posting an image. It isn’t going to disappear just yet so there is no point feeling bitter towards it - I can still use it as a tool - but I know now when it gets too much and when I just need to take a step back and focus on my present life.
Anything else: @a.lovebelow