Eddie Kang, Korean artist who brought doodles into the world of art
Every year Korean fashion brands such as MCM release capsule collections in collaboration with famous artists. Korean artist and Asia 21 Korea Chapter’s Chair Eddie Kang, who has collaborated with MCM for 1 and a half years developing various designs, such as Animamix blend pattern, has visited Thailand. Vogue Thailand had a chance to invite Mr. Kang for an interview and talked about his life and career as an artist.
Q. How did you decide to become an artist?
A. To me , it was very natural to decide to become a full-time artist. Since my mother is also a painter, I grew up being exposed to artistic atmosphere from early age. She took me to various museums and galleries and showed me many creative things at her studio. Thus, I have never imagined myself pursuing different careers other than art-related ones since I was very young.
Q. Tell us about your growth from passion to profession.
A. Art has always been my passion. So it was easy for me to make a decision to attend art college after high school. I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design where all students are allowed to explore their various creativities freely. Though my major at RISD was film/animation/video, I always knew my biggest passion was in fine art such as painting and drawing. While I concentrated on learning all those new techniques of filmmaking and animating, I never lost my passion in fine art. I have always kept on painting and drawing knowing that I will someday become a full-time artist after graduation.
Q. It is always difficult to find a unique signature, or yourself. Was it difficult for you as well?
A. When I was a kid, my mother was also a young painter searching for her own answers in creating. She did not teach me much in technigue-wise. Instead, she provided me lots of plain papers and books of famous masters. So I read the books(mostly images) then began doodling. I doodled figures mostly such as toys and pets in various ways. Interestingly, those doodles became my style, and my present figures are quite similar to those doodles from early age.
Q. What is your favorite work or exhibition throughout your career?
A. Among all the shows, I would say it would be my first solo exhibition at Taipei in 2008. The debut.
Q. Who is your favorite artist?
A. Other than my mother, I have quite few I admire. Cy Twombly and George Condo come on top. Among young artists, I like works of Yoohee Chang.
Q. Who is the artist that you want to meet the most?
A. It would be Cy Twombly obviously. I visited many exhibitions featuring his works. Among all of them, the most memorable one was at Cy Twombly Gallery from Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Walking around the space full of Twombly's works only, lots of different emotions were passing through my mind. Unforgettable experience.
Q. If you had come across Cy Twombly ...
A. He passed away few years ago.
Q. But if I ever had an honor to meet him in person, I would formally invite him to my studio and ask him to work on a mural together.
A. Cy Twombly is a well-known figure with his calligraphic style. It would be like dreams come true if he comes to my studio filling my wall with his lines and shapes.
Q. What is your favorite gallery around the world?
A. Personally, I like The Gallery Bookstore. In New York, there is Gagosian Gallery, where it has a wonderful bookstore. There is David Zwirner Gallery in New York also, where it had an awesome pop-up bookstore. Cy Twombly Pavilion and the Rothko Chapel from Menil Collection are also among my favorite spots.
Q. Collaboration of books and gallery?
A. Books, editioned works, and stationaries by artists can be easy forms for audiences to approach. So, with a good gallery book store, artists can explore different types of creative formats and expand their league outside of white cubes.
Q. Tell us about your daily life.
A. I am living a simple life. I get up at 7 am and go to studio around 9 am. I start my day with checking e-mails, going through some documents before I get into actual studio activities. I come back home at 6 pm for dinner. Then I begin my evening production hours from 8 to 9 pm. do the rest of my drawing work a little bit. I prefer organized routine.
Q. Tells us about your collaboration with MCM.
A. Back in 2016 after I just finished my NYC solo show, my agent asked me whether I wanted to do a collaboration with MCM. Knowing that MCM is a globally known, well-established fashion brand with history, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to meet audiences beyond galleries. So I accepted and here we are. The time with MCM was marvelous, and we constantly exchanged ideas throughout the process to come up with a solid collaboration.
Q. Big City Life – Loveless
A. The motivation of the project came from the theme of my exhibition in New York: ‘Big City Life Loveless’. When I talk to people living in the big city, I often felt there was something missing from their lives. Something they might have forgotten but not completely lost. Something like the good memories of childhood that we gradually forget as we grow up. I believe the people still have those elements deep inside their hearts, and I want to pull it out. This is the one message I have always tried to convey through most of my work.
Q. What is the cornerstone of this project?
A. MCM is a widely known fashion brand with its unique design and style. It was most challenging to put my own image on MCM pattern and not harming the originality of the brand. So, we had many idea-exchaning sessions. Then we came to a conclusion to use both 'double-sided products' and 'direct drawing on visetos' to maintain originalities of MCM and myself at the same time. That way, we could make two different images of MCM and myself naturally coexist in the products.
Q. MCM in the eyes of Eddie Kang
A. We all know that MCM hosts annual collaboration with interesting designs. After I saw MCM’s capsule collection in collaboration with Tobias Rehberger, I realized that this brand does not fear change, and always try something new and experimental.
Q. Any comments to fellow artists of the next generation?
A. I think every artist has his or her moment of success. It could come early or late. All different. It is only matter of time.
If you stay patient and work hard, sooner or later, it will come to you. Stay awake and keep on exploring your creativities with enthusiasm and passion. Never be desperate. Be patient. Then success will come to you even before your notice.