Artist Profile: Valerie Chua
(Photo by Aleyn Comprendio)
We know Valerie Chua as the Quiet Girl who creates dreamy watercolor illustrations. This time around, The Girls’ Room is giving her the floor, and letting her spill the beans on her art, inconsistencies, and accepting her unconventional love.
Interview by Kit Singson
1. Tell us about yourself as an illustrator. Why do you think people respond so positively to your works?
Hi! I’m Valerie! I’m a self-taught illustrator. I studied in a Chinese school when I was young and I was taught the rigors of Chinese calligraphy, which I grew to like during my high school years. I became fond of the fluidity of East Asian art, and also anime, while becoming obsessively controlling over my methods. My parents are attracted to Western classic (aesthetic) that I always feel the need to apply its canon to my work, but I always find myself falling back to more free-flowing styles. I’ve been working professionally for almost 2 years and I’m still figuring things out.
I get told that my works are “masarap sa mata” (“delicious to the eyes”). I love how Asian art is very colorful. I usually start with lots of color and then I mute them. People say they are drawn to this feature and it relaxes them.
2. Why do you keep on doing what you do?
This is kind of strange, but I often think of quitting art… every year. I think that a lot of artists keep doing art because it makes them happy, and they can never imagine doing anything else. That makes me jealous! As for me, art sometimes makes me depressed and disappointed that I have to completely stop for several months. Meanwhile, I’d do something different like work as an inventory migration personnel or a visual merchanidser, a teacher, or a musician. Nonetheless, I always go back to art. Just recently I’ve learned to accept that this is how I work. When I started out, I was set out on achieving grand goals. I realized that the more you shove that big-ass goal in your face, the more miserable you become, because a lot of times, it wouldn’t pan out. And I guess the reason why I stop and later come back to art is because when I disappear, all the expectations of myself go away with it and that strips down art to just wanting to create. It reminds you that the process is a delightful thing; that it couldn’t compare to anything else, not even the reward. If that’s what it takes to find meaning in what you’re supposed to love, then maybe it’s okay.
3. What do you consider the most unique element of your works?
A friend told me recently that from afar my works look happy, but when you look at each of them closely, my subjects are very melancholic. Maybe the paradox makes it unique sometimes. I’m always impressed with graphic naratives so I try my best to tell stories. I think I often fail at that, but that’s one aspect that I want to be very good at. Once, I declined a job from a client because I didn’t want to do commissions anymore. She insisted and told me, “I picked you to paint for me because your works make me happy.” It was a special moment for me. I think that if people can connect with your work, you have succeeded to a certain level. I also think that happiness is a hard thing to draw out from a person.
4. What keeps you busy nowadays? Where can we see your work?
I just finished a couple of paintings for a number of exhibits. There’s Bloom Arts Fest in Cubao X on September 29 and Manilart 2012 at the SMX Convention Center from October 2-6. There are also a number of group shows in line until the end of the year, but the details aren’t final yet. As of now I’m focusing on creating personal work and also planning out projects for 2013. I recently realized that I want to get into so many things like the academe, apparel, or entrepreneurship. I don’t think I can ever offer my heart solely to art (but it’s definitely always there). My mind’s always itching to try something new.
(“Passenger” Watercolor, 2012)
(“She waited for the silence but silence did not wait for her” Acrylic, 2011)
(“No need to look down” Watercolor, 2011)
(“Autumn Hymnal” Watercolor, 2011)
(“She speaks the truth your voice cannot” Watercolor and Acrylic, 2012)
Follow Valerie’s works on @Vinylrain (Twitter) and quietgirl.net