Today we’re joined by Chuang Wang, who is also known as millenniumfae online. Chuang is a phenomenal versatile artist who works in a number of fields. They mostly do digital illustration and animation, but they’re also working on a short film and do a lot of painting and drawing. They also happen to be a fellow Guillermo del Toro fan (be still my heart). Chuang demonstrates an amazing amount of talent and there is so much emotion and beauty in their work. I was amazed at how they use color and lines to draw the viewer’s focus in. This is an artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a fourth-year full time student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, working primarily digital illustrations and animations. I make movies, paintings, comics, and drawings, and I write my own scripts and stories. I’m currently making a short film called The Amber Witch, which has been over a year in the making, and will be finished within the next six months. I’ve also worked with phone game app developer teams. You might have also seen one of the pop-up ads that I’ve animated.
What inspires you?
Not any one thing. I’ll definitely say horror has always been a fascinating genre and source of inspiration. Good horror is successful because it’s entertaining enough to capture an audience, and terrifying enough to stick with someone after the story is over. Horror is a great catalyst for critical thinking and audience interest.
So my visual and storytelling style definitely draws from Konami’s Silent Hill series, manga artists Nakayama Masaaki and Junji Ito, Guillermo del Toro’s horror films, and others. Real life definitely offers the most inspirational horror – decay, corpses, and death particularly terrifies me.
My current Amber Witch film, a story about a witch that preserves ‘beautiful’ fresh corpses within orbs of amber, was inspired by National Geographic Johannes Bojesen’s photograph of a sheep corpse frozen in a pond. The top section of the sheep’s body had decayed to bones, and underneath the ice the sheep was perfectly preserved.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I didn’t take art seriously until my first few years of high school. On a whim, I began making fanart of my favorite video game and decided to join an internet forum fandom community. A pre-teen submitting their beginner art to an online forum of not-so-friendly adults went … as badly as you could imagine. I dedicated myself to improving out of pure spite. I quickly developed a work ethic, and decided to take my art skills to college, and beyond that.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
In every comic I’ve ever printed and distributed, there’s at least one onion sitting somewhere. Don’t tell anyone, but that onion is my avatar persona. Because I have an unholy love for onions. Especially raw and eaten like apples.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
‘Constructive criticism’ is 98% garbage. The only way to truly improve is to make and make more art, and to keep sight of your enjoyment. You develop a working rhythm within days, and that steady level of production is what’ll give you skill. Correct anatomy doesn’t actually exist, color palette and theory changes from person to person. ‘Good art’ goes in and out of fashion like everything else.
Not every artist draws every single day and works themselves to the bone while subsiding on cigarette smoke and pinot noir. I never did, and neither do my professional associates. This isn’t the Olympics. Improvement is sometimes just this one new technique that you decided to try on a whim, sometimes it’s you drawing this exact same pose over and over, until you couldn’t possibly mess it up ever again.
It’s not cheating if it works. Selling and crediting stolen art as your own is one thing, but using Photoshop filters, drawing aids, tracing and copying, anything that shaves off time and energy is what art has always been like, and what your idols and role models have always done. You’re only shown a carefully picked collection of finished art, and not the piles of garbage that led to it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Panromantic asexual. My agender identity definitely muddles the ‘romantic orientation’ part, which has caused me enough drama to last my sad, queer little life.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Definitely not in my field of art … but my asexuality has been a rocky road from start to finish. Me being a young, brown (then-identifying bisexual) teen led to years of self-neglect. I had no reason to say no, so I always said yes. As far as I knew, my strange neurosis and underdevelopment could be solved if I ‘powered’ through it.
I knew asexuality existed, but never thought it could possibly apply to my life. What possible benefit was there in being asexual? There’s no role models, no pride, no happiness in that life. It was a tough time. I ignored my body’s various aches and pains, and it ignored me. Then I made that conscious effort to reclaim asexuality, and that fog finally began to clear. My asexuality was my way of growing into myself, in a completely different way than what I was taught.
My asexuality definitely affects my art, though. One of my popular, earlier stories was about a mythical figure called The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden, whose physical appearance was designed after the famous Xiaohe mummy, which is known for its long, curly hair and beautiful eyelashes. The Crypt-Delver’s Maiden was a story about falling in love with an emancipated (sentient) mummy, and now that I look closer, this character was very much designed in an asexual light. There’s no hint of her body or her figure, and she emits no sexual energy. Falling in love with no sexuality in the relationship almost seems like a learned skill for most people, but for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it can be changed or compromised. I can predict these kinds of responses the minute before it happens. Sometimes, people voice some plan to change me. Sometimes, it’s subtle actions like invading my private space or belongings, or trying to ‘guide’ my thoughts and opinions. Sometimes, people get angry, because I ‘lied’ to them, or that I’m not involving them.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Keep it positive. Distance yourself from anything that rubs you the slightest wrong way. You aren’t owed any explanation, or behavior. Your comfort and safety is that much more important.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’ve got an artblog on Tumblr, millennium-fae-artblog. I also offer art commissions, and I’m currently making various Ace pride merchandise to be sold on Redbubble and Storenvy, so keep an eye out for those!
Thank you, Chuang, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.