Art, Emerging Artist

Confident, powerful, composed and elegant: an interview with Lea Woo

Hi Lea! I’m Bade. Nice to meet you. On behalf of the team I want to say welcome to Artleove, we are honored to have you with us.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about you and your art.

Tell us about yourself? Who is Lea?

Hi Bade, it’s very nice to meet you and it is my great honor to have this interview with Artleove. I am Lea, I am an illustrator and a graduate from Edinburgh College of Art and I am now based in Shanghai. I enjoy using gray toned palettes with lower color saturation and papery textures to create a vintage, moody and poetic atmosphere in my works. By doing so, I intend to bring the viewers a sense of calmness, tranquility and peace.

Ice Mountain, Lea Woo

Did the pandemic affect your work in any way, and if so, how? 

I think that everyone was affected by the pandemic in one way or the other; nobody could stay entirely ‘immune’ from it, especially that we are now living in this globalized economic community where all walks of life depend on each other. So am I, as well as many of my fellow artists. The very strict Covid prevention policies prevented us from much offline work and many art fairs were first delayed and then canceled during this year. It makes things harder like meeting people who are interested in my art and want to talk in person. Some of the offline projects were also canceled due to the uncertainty of policies and the pandemic situation.

As we know, you are an illustrator, and I personally had the opportunity to review your work in detail. I want to say that your work is beautiful. What in life inspired you to be an illustrator?

Thank you so much for your appreciation. Everything in life has the potential to inspire, especially nature. The colors of the sky, the textures of the trees, a beetle on the flowers or such, are where my ideas come from. Those old Chinese water ink animations also inspired me a lot. The use of color, structure and layout, as well as the artistic concepts they contain left me with a great impression and somehow impacted my own artistic style and preferences.

There is a certain, distinct female figure in the majority of your artwork. Is this figure your inspiration? Does it represent a particular person or is she imaginary? 

It is partly imaginary and partly from my own preferences, derived from the beauty standards of Chinese women. For example I tend to choose narrow eyebrows and a small mouth as well as a calming expression when I depict women. I have watched many old Chinese movies and love the elegance, wisdom and delicacy those women demonstrated. However, I want to represent these women as a combination of both traditional and modern. I mean, instead of keeping them shy, reserved or conventional, like the women in old times, confident, powerful, composed and elegant would be the main keywords I would use to describe the women I illustrate.

In your works, sometimes we see a striking red color but you often use pastel colors. Does your choice of colors hold any significance or wider meaning?

I enjoy using soft pastel palettes which encapsulate a vintage mood. It gives people a sense of calmness and tranquility. I also love contrast and visual tension; as you can see some of the women in my illustrations wear red, such as ‘flower feast’. Red to me represents bravery and boldness, some good qualities in women. You can also see a lot of green and blue in my works, reflecting the color of nature, which I also use to represent wisdom and composure.

Lea Woo

What motivated you to develop your art into prints? 

It’s always been one of my goals to apply my art to different kinds of lifestyle products, such as prints and wall art, and I hope I can gradually develop many other categories. This is because, compared to purely seeing art from our mobile devices or galleries, it would be more wonderful to own it physically and that gives you different feelings and brings greater joy to life. I feel super excited each time I collect art pieces from other artists I love.

There is always a bird figure in your illustrations, including the works featured on Artleove. What does this mean exactly? What themes do birds represent for you?

Birds like swallows or doves are lovely and elegant creatures and match with my works well. Chinese people hold strong affection for birds as they represent many good meanings, freedom being one of them – the freedom to express and love is something I always cherish.

Our last question is about one of our favorite works of yours. What does the piece ‘Girls love Girls’ represent? Does it have a special story? 

It actually came from a sudden inspiration and didn‘t have a particularly special backstory. But I love women as much as I love nature, and I support all kinds of emotions women hold for each other, some very subtle and exquisite sentiments, not only romantic relationships. It is more about mutual appreciation, respect and affection.

Thanks for your sincere answers. Take care of yourself!


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