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Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Amy Chen

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“This is Serious,

“This is Serious,” drawing with markers

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

Amy Chen, 26, currently works as a character designer at Animation Domination High Definition for the animated Fox show Golan the Insatiable. Currently on leave of absence from the Art Center in Pasadena, where she was studying entertainment design, Chen already has a degree in fine arts from UCLA.

After being born in Warren, Michigan, she was soon sent to live with her mother’s side of the family in Thailand. She now lives in Hollywood, “a city that is rich with
many vibrant and interesting characters,” she said.
Chen, who currently makes art at home but is looking for a studio to share, makes use of a variety of mediums. “I try to work on whatever I can get my hands on or learn about,” she said. “That includes oil paints, clay and, of course, digital paint.”

How long have you been making art?

That is a tough question when I’m not sure if what I’ve made can be considered art. But for now I guess [it’s been] since my time at UCLA, where I slowly realized art is a crazy, crazy but highly respectable field.

“Cymon the Cyclops,

“Cymon the Cyclops,” Adobe Photoshop digital sketch

Your artist website features a three-dimensional model of Cymon the Cyclops, who, according to your website, was born the runt of the litter and was already disadvantaged at an early age, and he had to adapt to avoid being hunted so he hides and makes traps. What was the inspiration for this creation?
Studying entertainment design at Art Center, you deal with the creation of mythical creatures of all sorts all the time. The Cyclops race will always look a certain way because of their defining quality— their one eye; it’s usually up to the artist to try and make the design different. I wanted to make a Cyclops with a history. Cyclops are a race that are usually depicted as strong, aggressive muscular giants, but I’ve never seen any old Cyclops, most likely because they die once they physically move past their prime. And the idea of an elderly cyclops came to mind. I figured any Cyclops that manages to live past their physical peak does so by avoiding other Cyclops, therefore making him possibly a recluse. I imagined a Cyclops, already a runt of the litter, having to always struggle to survive, and the only way he manages to is by outwitting his siblings. He therefore grows up a trapper, whose foresight allows him to always remain one step ahead.
“Cymon the Cyclops,

“Cymon the Cyclops,” made with clay and acrylic

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?

I don’t mind! I think asking anyone their thought process and intentions is always an interesting perspective, and so sharing is always fun.

What do you try to achieve with your art?

Each piece has its own reason, but if I can get anyone to have an internal conversation with themselves and for them to learn anything, that would be amazing.

“Chris,” oil painting

What kind of creative rituals do you have?
I don’t sleep until I get something figured out, and the mounting pressure and lack of sleep seem to be a creative ritual I can’t really get away from.

How much time do you usually spend on one piece?

It depends on the piece, but usually until I feel it conveys what it needs to convey.

When did you start making art? What kind of art was it?
As like so many other artists, I loved all forms of art ever since I was little. I drew illustrations throughout high school and became obsessed by the time I was in college. Up to that point, I’ve only done paintings and digital art.

How has your practice changed over time?

I started looking into other mediums. Different mediums allow for different expressions and therefore different perspectives. For example, learning more about dance provides an interesting insight into gesture and form.

To see more of her work, visit

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Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Amy Chen