artist interview - ray young chu

When we came across Ray Young Chu's image of kittens shooting a rainbow of lasers from their eyes as they bathe in a bowl of Fruit Loops, we knew we needed to know more about this fellow and his wonderful mind. We popped a few questions his way, and you can have a gander at the responses below.

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What is your name and how old are you? Ray Young Chu. I am 35 years old.

Where were you born and where do you live now? I was born in Denver, Colorado and now live in East Los Angeles.

How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your art?
I grew up in Thornton, Colorado. It's a smaller suburb city where I got into art through graffiti. Some of my influences were outside of Colorado though, from Los Angeles and New York. Now almost 20 years later, I've moved to East LA. My recent work is starting to look more gangster and a little more off.

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Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it's your art studio or kitchen bench!
I just designed a small art studio and my neighbours helped build it. It has 12 foot tall ceilings, skylights and half the building moves out on wheels to be twice the size.

What kind of mediums do you use? Why do you choose to use these mediums? I'm starting to use oils, but I want to keep doing acrylics and airbrushing, too. I've definitely got a lot of learning to do and I like experimenting with a lot of mediums.

Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind? Humour is a repetitive theme, plus optimism and animals doing human things. A lot of the ideas that come up are from what I see online, documentaries, movies, other artists and life in general. I feel like I'm a DJ remixing images from a handful of genres.

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What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment?
Dinosaur haircuts, food in space, aliens, gangsters, dogs playing basketball, truck drivers, ninja schools, weed culture, airbrush art, mural facades and Jesus Terminators.

If you were to teach an art appreciation class, what kind of lessons would you try to teach your students? I'm definitely sporadic so it wouldn't be linear and it would be whatever I'm into that week. I would go over current to renaissance artists, popular to unknown artists, and educated artists to folk artists. We'd learn techniques, so it would be hands-on with painting studies like what the old masters did, and research the history of that particular time. We'd learn how each of the artists marketed themselves too. Students would do presentations so it would be a combined learning effort. We'd have an art show at the end of the course along with rap battles, dance-offs and ninja ability contests.

What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work? I generally think of a lot of strange things just because this world is a strange place to me, but the piece called 'Laser Dinocat Cone' with the cat on the dinosaur shooting out lasers on top of an ice cream cone is probably one of the strangest. The ice cream cone series was all actually inspired by showing at an ice cream shop in LA.

Which era of art do you appreciate the most? We live in an interesting era now. Not that previous ones weren't, but we're able to build from the past, plus we have easier access to communicate to the world. We have combined technology and materials to work from so that's pretty exciting.

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What other budding artists do you love?
Some are budding, some are not: the Datefarmers because of their variety, depth of content, humour and naturalness. Christian Van Minnen for his amazing oil painting, absurdity and the feeling of mystery. Laurie Lipton for her great detail and creepiness that makes a beautiful story. Raúl Martín for his way of making paleoart look so convincing. Gregory Crewdson for his intriguing and eerie photography sets. David Hockney for his continuous interest in painting and approach. John Pugh for his illusion, research and mural skills.

There are many more. In a month I'll have a long list of other artists that I'm into. I definitely learn new things when I study artists and am inspired to do better in my own work.

What do you enjoy doing when not creating art? Right now I'm researching on building an aquaponics system and greenhouse. For me everything is like creating art, so I feel like I'm always working on art projects even when not painting.

Where can we see more of your work? rayyoungchu.com


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