Eric Sze-Lang Chan sometimes includes an element of performance in his work. This Ottawa artist is always focused, on the go and very down to earth.
Are you happy as an artist right now?
Sure I’m happy. It would suck bad if I was depressed.
Is this a time of growth for you?
Of course, every day is a time of growth and will probably be with me until the final.
The recession can still be felt everywhere, but you are still creating wonderful work. How have you been affected?
First off – Thank you.
It’s like a game of strategy. The recession has affected me more positively than anything. I view it as an excellent opportunity to reinvest into yourself and work on personal projects that you have been brewing but never got around to. And…if you got none, good time to think of something!
Have economic conditions made you pull back? Are you moving forward? Are you treading water, remaining in place?
No, I did not pull back, I pushed forward! I’m always pushing forward no matter what the economic conditions are because I’m just not that type of person who stays stagnant. I hate stagnation, it’s irritating, it’s playing safe and it sucks.
You got to know how to face and overcome the hurdles. It’s tough, challenging and also very rewarding. Commercial work was slow so I decided it was a perfect time to think about some of my ideas I was brewing for a while. That is how my latest body of work “Intersections” came to fruition. The works received much interest from all over, which landed me a solo exhibition at a gallery in Tokyo and a month up in the mountains at the Banff Centre for the Self-Directed Creative Residency last year. The start of 2010 was insane. 4 shows lined up consecutively. One involved going back to Tokyo again for a live visual/music collaboration performance, and upon returning I had my solo exhibition of Intersections at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Currently I am planning on the next steps to bring these works to Hong Kong. This coming September I will be doing a collaboration with my buddy Robert Bolton (Arowbe of the band Times Neue Roman) for TEDxToronto. So again, no, the economic conditions did not pull me back. It’s all in the state of mind. It’s up to you in how you make of it. I never pull back, I just keep it going and keep the hustling, making sure my goals are in sight. Economic conditions should have no effect on one’s pursuit of artistic success.
Is making art working out? Do you need to have a day job?
Ha ha, never thought of it that way. Working out with my brain maybe? I guess it depends on how you view it. For me, art making is a representation of searching oneself. The result is a reflection of oneself. I currently have no 9-5 day job. Under my artist name eepmon, my commercial work helps me finance my personal creations. Of course grants help too. (Thanks, Canada Council!) Come September I will be a part-time faculty member at Algonquin College, so teaching would be something different for me, fun and to give back to the community.
What do you think of the art world right now?
1. MFAs are expensive.
2. The art world is very, very blurred. From the birth of the Internet, web magazines such as yourselves, blogs and the media – flow of information is instantaneous. Never before has art from all spectrums reached such a wide audience from all points of the world. That said, I predict that the contemporary art world will continue to become increasingly transient and a work of art will be in some form or another representative of this transient and mobile culture.
Who do you really admire in the art world right now?
In visuals: Shirley Thomson, Sol LeWitt, Gustav Klimt, Banksy, Douglas Coupland, Hayao Miyazaki, Takashi Murakami, Takehiko Inoue
In music: Madlib, shing02, Nujabes, Specifics, MFDoom, ROVO
Who do you think will survive?
The Street Fighter franchise, and Duke Nukem will be back.
Any other comments?
A Gabriel Orozco quote I heard that’s so simple, yet so true: “An artist can always entertain or amaze or amuse. Creating something that lasts – that’s not so easy.”