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Imitating Life” Posting questions to local artist Jeffrey Fan

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Jeffrey Fan

Jeffrey Fan

Twenty-two-year-old New York native Jeffrey Fan now lives in Southern California, where he paints, teaches and has “a cool gig designing mannequins.”
Having started making art six years ago, he graduated last year from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in illustration.
His choice of mediums depends on what he’s trying to achieve. He says he uses oils for creating careful, lush colors and watercolors for their immediacy and atmosphere.
He says he loves painting on location in Los Angeles, so he works outdoors a lot but does figures and still life in his studio.

“Oriental Gaze,

“Oriental Gaze,” oil on canvas

When did you start making art? What kind of art was it?
I started drawing in high school. I’ve always been fascinated with the body and using facial expressions to make up stories. Originally, I wanted to do comics, but then painting took a hold of me in school.

Why do you make art?
I paint to amuse myself. Well, really, but not really. I paint to find myself, to question, affirm, re-question my identity, and hopefully to occupy someone else’s thoughts and emotions for a time. In the end, though, that’s not fun. I paint because it’s fun.

If, for some reason, you could no longer create art, what would you do?
Does making music count? I don’t think there really is a way to stop creating art, other than being physically or mentally incarcerated. I view most careers as an act of creating something unique. My teaching job is sort of a performing art to me. Well, dodging the question. If I were to choose a career that bore the semblance of the exact opposite of art, I would probably try to be in engineering research and development.

Is there anything that blocks you as an artist?
It’s early on in my career, and yet I have a deep impression of the way money has influenced my work. Money, or lack thereof, is a block and a boon. A block for the obvious reasons of not having enough time, space, materials, etc. to make what I want. A boon because, well, without want of money I wouldn’t have the impetus to make work that people can relate to. And I think that’s a dangerous space to be in, especially coming out of an expensive art college.

“Big Red,

“Big Red,” watercolor on paper

Do you have a favorite piece of art you’ve created?
Yes, and its just around the corner. Like Ira Glass says, my work hasn’t quite caught up to my taste, and it most probably never will.

Do you have a favorite piece of art that someone else has made?
Yes, “Otra Margarita.” It’s a beautiful painting by Joaquin Sorolla, but it also betrays this unbelievable human tension that I’ve never experienced in any other painting.


“Isis,” oil on canvas

What is your favorite subject matter to include in your art?
Girls. I’m a fan of Robert Henri’s basic idea of making beautiful pictures out of the ordinary and mundane, but I also just like painting beauty.

Fan’s work is currently being exhibited at Back in Action chiropractic clinic, 25200 Crenshaw Blvd. Suite 101, in Torrance, through March 27. To view more of his work online, visit .

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Imitating Life” Posting questions to local artist Jeffrey Fan