After making her debut this year into the art world with ART021 in Shanghai, Yanran Chen continued to make a name for herself at only 18 with her style and immaculate craftsmanship. Her sculptures, cartoons and illustrations got widespread attention and buzz from both national and international media. We got the pleasure of meeting her and picking her mind about all things art, and about what’s to come after she not only launched but skyrocketed herself into the art world.
Chloe, Unveiling the Artistic Odyssey
Hey Chloe! To kick things off, could you share a bit about your background and journey as an artist? What sparked your artistic passion, especially considering you’ve been largely self-taught?
I really love watching Japanese animation, and I started to watch animation such as Crayon Shin-Chan, Conan and so on when I was three years old. From my perspective, cartoon is very magical, it is a world that can be constructed by the author himself with a pen. Therefore, I slowly became interested in drawing and I’m still working on it now.
Captivating the Essence of Art
In the realm of art, both as an admirer and a creator, what aspects captivate you the most?
Many of my creations rewrite the concepts of the girl and the machine, which are important concepts in my art. The figurative existence of a young girl probably stems from the soul’s deepest tracing of the self. The characters I created in different periods of time are more or less a reflection of myself at that time, either conveying the struggle of a difficult situation or exploring some real problems in the human world.
One example of Chen’s explorations on the girl and the machine is her sculpture, “Fictional Self”. It was on display at the 11th edition of ART021. The piece garnered a lot of attention and was a fusion of art and metals. She explores the deep waters of herself, transmutes her ideas on the contemporary society with the impact of information and technological overload into a beautiful sculpture that kick-started conversations, and acclaimed her place in the art world as the creator of thought-provoking pieces.
Chen says that she gradually finds her own element during the process of creation, and how she sees her maturing linear to her creative growth day by day.
Chloe’s Artistic Evolution
Where do you draw inspiration from? What story do you want to tell through your art with your surreal and sometimes robotic elements around your subject matter?
The cities I’ve visited, the anime and films I’ve watched, the vintage clothes I’ve collected, and the feelings I’ve had about growing up at different stages are all the sparks that ignite my creativity. Besides that there are actually dreams. Whenever I dream of something interesting, I try to remember those scenes when I wake up and put them together in my works. Depending on how I feel at the time.
Whether it’s illustration or sculpture or any other form of creation, it’s all a medium for me to express myself and share my inner world with people. There are different forms of expression but not much difference in substance. I don’t want to limit people’s feedback to whether they can read happiness or sadness in my work, whether they can find empathy or find it hard to understand, it’s all a kind of emotion. But I still hope that people can think of me as a creator with independent thinking and imagination.
Discussing her first solo exhibition, Chloe reflects on the nervous excitement of showcasing her work. She tells us how the positive reception fuels her desire to continue challenging herself in future artistic endeavors, hinting at a yearning for more opportunities to explore and evolve.
Let’s talk about your first solo exhibition. How was that experience? What is the exhibition about? How were the reactions, how are you feeling?
Honestly, I was very nervous. I scared of my inexperience but plucked up the courage to do it. I’m quite sensitive to other people’s opinions. But all in all, my first exhibition was a success. I hope to have more opportunities to challenge myself in the future.
Your recent ventures include both illustrations and sculptures. When did your interest in sculpture emerge, and can we expect more of this fusion in your future works? Walk us through your creative process when transitioning between these mediums.
When I was very young, I loved collecting sculptures and models. I happened to know a studio that made models and tried playing there for the first time. A long time ago I made model toys inspired by my own image. This year, while concentrating on painting, I suddenly wanted to perfect my previous works. In this process, I gradually fell into the model sculpture production, and in the process of creation, I also met a lot of good friends, together with the exchange and sharing of views, I hope to do better and better in the future.
What’s next for you?
I want to try animation. I recently have fallen in love with the stop motion. Meanwhile, I hope that I make short animated films and also want to improve my sculptures.
As your artistic journey unfolds, are there any specific goals or milestones you’ve set for yourself, either in terms of collaborations or pushing the boundaries of your own creativity?
Yes. I want to make more models and keep improving my work. Continuously explore my potential and find my own elements with a more mature style. To create works that are unique to Chloe’s style.
Chloe’s Advice to Emerging Artists:
At the end of our talk, we ask Chloe for advice. What should we all remember at the beginning of our journey, as artists, what should we always know? She hopes everyone can remain in the moment, and focus on being themselves. Upon seeing the amazing work Chloe does, the world through her eyes and hearing her process we believe that by standing by her unique perspective and commitment to authenticity have undoubtedly propelled her artistic journey.
We’re looking forward to see how her journey unfolds.
Quick-Fire Questions for Chloe Chen
Who are some of your favorite artists, and how have they shaped or inspired your own creative journey?
Animation director: Kenneth Anger, Shuji Terayama, Masaaki Yuasa.
Beyond the realm of traditional art, are there creators from other disciplines—musicians, writers, filmmakers, or even scientists—that leave a significant impact on your work? How do you draw inspiration from these diverse sources?
There are many film directors and actors who have given me a lot of new inspirations and insights. For example, director Kenneth Anger. His work has a very experimental style and the use of colors in his work is very vivid, which also inspires me a lot in the use of colors in my work.
Collaboration can often be a powerful catalyst for creativity. If you could collaborate with any artist, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
The author of Crayola Shin-Chan, because I really like this one in particular. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid, and I still watch it every now and then.
In the realm of contemporary art, are there emerging artists whose work you find particularly intriguing or groundbreaking? What draws you to their creations?
Personally, I don’t think it’s necessarily limited to artists. There are a lot of great directors out there whose work also inspires me a lot. I’m also super keen to make my own short film, and if I get the chance I’d like to work with Japanese director Shuji Terayama. His style of expression is similar to the abstraction of Dali and Picasso in Spain and Pop Art in the US, and he was the guiding force behind the visual arts in Japan.