Ophelia Chong, Illustrator and Print Designer, LA
Ophelia Chong grew up in the wilds of Canada, describing herself as an explorer as a child – today she’s an illustrator and designer, also described as a cutter, paster, shooter, illustrator, teacher, and spinner! Design Awards winning Ophelia Chong is all that and more! She has a long and impressive resume, having starting out as a photographer for the super cool Raygun Magazine, before moving on to gain experience as a designer in films, music and advertising.
Ophelia Chong invited Creative Mapping into her world of illustrations to talk more about her creative process.
“The picture of Marilyn Monroe is part of an experiment with internet art, the process I used was taking screenshots between slide imagery found online. My thesis was to capture art that will not happen again, since you had to capture it at the right moment and it could not be repeated.” Ophelia Chong
ABOUT OPHELIA CHONG
CM: Where do you live and what & where did you study?
I live in Los Angeles, in the part of the city called Los Feliz. I studied at the Art Center College of Design and received my BFA in Fine Art painting.
CM: What is it you do?
I am a print designer mainly. My clients range from photographers to magazines to film. I work for the California Arts Institute as an Art Director in the Masters program, I teach at the Art Center College of Design in the photography dept. My NYC and Chicago representatives, Watson + Spierman and Anne Albrect Julliosson, rep my illustration work for advertising and editorial. I have a weekly column at KCET as well.
CM: How did you become a professional creative?
I started with Raygun Magazine as a photographer for David Carson, with an image for Brian Eno. From there I acquired clients in the music business. A film company saw my work and hired me as their Creative Director, I launched over thirty films in a period of four years, and was also the Creative Director for Slamdance, Outfest, and the Los Angeles Independent Film festivals.
My illustration work found its muse in Flickr. Flickr has been responsible for my work being seen by publishers (Gestalten Press, Quarry Press, Harpers Collins International, Vandy Press and Peach Pit Press). My work has appeared in over ten books since 2007. Flickr is one of the best ways to get your work seen and also led me to be curated in group shows around the world.
CM: Your work environment and preferred working programs/tools/ materials?
I work in my home studio up in the Hollywood Hills, I’m surrounded by bamboo, oak and eucalyptus trees, and I’m next to a 5,000 acre public park.
I use an exacto knife, glue sticks for my collages. For my letterpress work I use a Vandercook Universal press.
CM: Tell us about the technique used for the collage with Marilyn Monroe?
The picture of Marilyn Monroe is part of an experiment with internet art; the process I used was taking screenshots between slide imagery found online. My thesis was to capture art that will not happen again, since you had to capture it at the right moment and it could not be repeated. Like Susan Sontag’s quote: “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
CM: What’s your process, from inspiration, through to the final execution of your illustrations?
For my letterpress work, I’ll go in with a vague idea and then work from there. I might think I’ll do only one colour, but end up with three. With my collage work I will start with one central image and build from there.
My creative process never involves an idea of what I’ll end up with. I go with the flow, and allow myself to veer off course.
CM: When do you know your photos are truly finished?
I know I am done when I have no path left to take. I am always happy where I end up, because I had no idea of where I was going to end up. It’s always a surprise.
CM: Your biggest achievement to-date?
Being published by Gestalten Press with three books, but I’m not done yet. Each forward step is the biggest.
CM: What are your biggest challenges as a creative?
My biggest challenge is knowing when to take a break. So I built a terraced garden to plant vegetables and herbs that need tending. It makes me go outside. My latest project is a small koi pond.
CM: Best place to escape?
CM: What inspires your creativity the most in your city?
Going to art museums, LACMA, MOCA, Norton Simon, Huntington Gardens and Library; I love art from the 16th to 18th centuries.
CM: Are you part of a creative community?
My community is Flickr and Facebook.
CM: Favourite blogs and magazines?
The Curious Brain is one of my favourites – Michael is based in Greece. I collect out-of-print photography monographs and catalogues from my favourite art shows.
CM: Favourite suppliers?
I love Swain’s in Glendale. I can always find paper to print on that is different. Also flea markets are the best for old magazines.
CM: Your dream project or collaboration?
Ahh. Dream project. To create illustrations for a large cosmetics or H+B company.
*Photographic credits:”Ode to Sam Haskins” – Ophelia Chong