Yoo Hee Chang

Yoo Hee Chang

Considering Yoo Hee Chang had been uninterested in working with oil paint before her BFA studies, she's now totally hooked as she pursues her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago! Check out our great Q&A and find much more at her Instagram gallery!

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Tell me a little bit about you!

I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. I received a BFA degree in the States from Rhode Island School of Design, class of 2014. Now I'm going to continue my painting degree from School of the Art Institute of Chicago from this fall. BFA degree allowed me to practice "oil paint," which I refused to use before. I need to get things done fast, and oil was opposite to what I need. Throughout the RISD years and till now, I can only use oil paint.

One of many reasons why I decided to go to grad school is that I want to learn more ways to make art works. Now I'm really interested making my works into 3d forms. To do that, I need ceramic skills, knitting skills, and most importantly photoshop skills. Fun fact about myself? I'm short and look young. Some people guess my age as 17, which I don't think it's a compliment, sounds more like "don't be outside, it is too dangerous out here." So I don't want my work to be commented, "cute, pretty, and etc." I always remind myself not to make cute paintings. Now I get a lot of comments that are less fluffy and I'm contented.

When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?

I'm not a good writer. As a kid, my daily routine was to write down what I did every hour, just like military records. I tried and tried so many times to make my diary sounds poetic. I later ended paraphrasing favorite boy band song lyrics. And during my high school, I had to doodle random drawings to stay awake, or else I got detentions from sleeping. Then I guess from doodling practice expanded to painting on canvases.

What ideas are you exploring in your practice?

"Myself" always themed to my paintings. Only changes are how I express them. I remember the first year in undergrad I was too shy to use my actual face and body on canvas to express my thoughts and feeling, so I often used animals and objects to represent all the narratives. Then moved to phase when I was like "I'll just use self-portrait." And very recently, I feel uncomfortable again, when people buy my art works, and imaging having my face at someone's living room or office space. Very recently, this month, I've been working on numerous drawing collages based on my daily life. Intention to collage works was to make sketches before school starts. I bring representative items from every day and draw, paint, or make a stencil of them. With those cut-out images, I make a composition to fill out the paper.

What is your process like?

I love walking, and that's the time I discover what I need to paint. I bring those items out when I paint and trying to put them together, like a match making. For drawing, it takes about 3 hours. For painting depends on size, but usually, takes about 2 weeks. I try to work one at the time, but when I'm in rush, no choice I have to do what I have to do. I once worked 4 paintings at the same time. But I most like to work one at a time, so I can concentrate on one dialogue at a time.

Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?

Since after using Instagram, all my mentors are galleries and artists I follow. I don't know if this is good or bad. I believe it's good. I get to know more about exhibitions. I always got a critique from college, "don't google, go see." Now I go and see actual works. The advice that I received in the past that always motivates me is "you'll never fail if you do you can always find a way."

Describe your studio.

I tried to attach images on this page, but it didn't work. There are couple images on Instagram. I got my personal studio the very first time after college. I was very pretentious. I wanted to exhibit my works every once a month, so I designed my space like a gallery space. Exhibition happened once and never did. Studios are meant to be dirty. Once it's turned trashy oil paint over loaded space, fewer people want to visit.

What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?

Most challenging is to make art consistently. Instagram is the only platform giving me comments or reactions. I need a group of people who are in the art department and can comment and advice on my works. I had families and friends over to my studio and all they could tell me that my works are cute, pretty, nice, cool, and etc. It was the most frustrating moment.

If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?

I would want to have a dinner with George W. Bush and ask how much are his paintings. Is he representing any gallery? Does he ever exhibit his works? Maybe? I would just like to have a studio time with him. He can paint his portrait and I can paint my self-portrait next to him.

What are three words you would use to describe your work?

Funny but not

What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?

I used to play "Justin Bieber Essentials" on iTunes, but now I turn on podcasts. I need to be more intellectual before school starts.

What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?

I love spray paint. It makes a great effect and dries fast. It challenges my lung. I might get lung cancer.

What do you need or value most as an artist?


What keeps you creating?

My boring daily routine.

What are you working on right now?

I have to pack for school to Chicago. I need to get my winter clothes ready out.

Anything else you would like to add?

It's 12:52 am and it's way past my bed time. My eyes are half closed.

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