REPUBLIC X


The door to the unusual surrealism: interview with Alice Lin

Beijing based illustrator, Alice Lin, opens doors for us and invites everyone to discover her dark, creative and surrealistic world of art. You can recognize her works by identifying the connection between art, animals, and nature. Alice always manages to build an emotional bridge between viewer and subject. Her colors are like that of illustrations and drawings and are usually calmingly soft. Every single one of her photos has its own story. Alice brings darkness to her works and combines it with fairytales, childhood’s memories and perceptions. So what is Alice Lin like? And how does she come up with such ideas? I asked her about these things in our short chat.  

At what age did you started illustrating and how did it happen?
I started drawing at 5 years old. At that age I was a very naughty little girl but drawing kept me quiet. My mom liked to let me draw so that she could take care of me easier.

How long does it take for you to finish one artwork?
It takes different amounts of time with every piece of work. Sometimes I get a new idea in a moment, sometimes it can take a long time. If I get a good idea, to draw it will take me about half a month.

Illustrations and paintings always seemed to me as a quite diligent thing to do. Do you think patience and thoroughness are the characteristics that artist need to have for creating such art?
Yes, having enough patience and thoroughness in art is necessary and indispensable.

I always ask this question: who or what inspires you?
So many things give me inspiration: fairy tales, music, pictures, movies, dreams, etc. From when I was a kid I liked to draw my imagined world, a place where the things that don’t exist in this world can be.

Your art can be perceived as dark and full of emotions. What kind of emotions and feelings are you trying to reflect?
Life. I have seen the birth of life and death. I am always aware that life is great and fragile. However one day we will all disappear. I always ask a question to myself : Are we real? Do we exist? Are we just illusive?

Animals are a big part of your artworks as well. Why is that?
Animals and plants are my favorite subjects because I love this world and I hope the animals, plants, and humans can exist in harmony in this world forever. No death, no war, without the pain of sickness. But the truth is everything has its end and we must comply with the laws of nature.

If you have to describe yourself in three words, what they would be and why?
SENSITIVE (my emotions are too rich). ELEGANCE (I like poetic expression). GENEROUS (I like to share)

Do you have any other hobbies besides illustrations and drawings?
Yes, besides drawing I was working for 3D art company Maya VFX and MEL (Maya Embed lauguage) scripting. I enjoy this work but it’s very different from drawing. These two work fields let my brain alternate between logic and emotion.



The Highlight of the Week: Nightscapes of Asia by Julia Wimmerlin

After being a marketing professional, photographer Julia Wimmerlin changed her focus on photography. By traveling around the world she visited the colorful and different Asia. As I asked her, what kind of experience did you get by visiting such large cities of Asia, Julia replied it is “very rewarding as the big cities of the new economies like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore are changes and hardly can be found as the “old world”. She also added that “the density of the population is so high there, that the buildings look like a very dense forest offering what the photographer needs the most - interesting light to capture.” So here you guys, really great shots of night cities and those magical lights of night life. 



Highlight of the Week: Arkhai by Bianka Schumann

In Budapest, Hungary based photographer Bianka Schumann presented her new photo-project, called “Arkhai” as ‘intimate relationship of two child-grown, grown-child, a main secret book which tells their ordinary and extraordinary world in pictures and I could be a little part of it.’ Photographer explores the particular time of our lives then we are experiencing childhood and grown-up life at the same time. When we are living in two words, and get many questions. “The big questions of the life are being dissected. Is it indeed real that I am alive? The world, the Earth, the other planets and the whole solar system are really existing? And why got the chair the name of chair or the table the name of table?” - elaborates photographer in her project’s description. You can take a look at the whole project here


Chaotic beauty: interview with Kim Byungkwan

This style of painting you would recognize always. It’s different, messy, emotional, dark and bold. Kim Byungkwan, was born and lives now in Seoul, Korea. After graduating Hnasung University he forgot about his passion for a while. Finally, Kim started painting again and become the finalist of planned exhibition on a gallery in Seoul. “That was the first solo exhibition of my life in 2011.” – told to me Kim. With several other awards, Kim is also popular on artsy and social websites. I believe that some of you are familiar with his project already. However, this time my goal was not to show you his famous works again but to get more insights about the author and his perception. Enjoy!

When and how you started painting? 
I’m sure cartoon is most of little kids fantasy world. But as a young boy, I was into it beyond your imagination. I spent most of my days to draw favorite cartoon characters or entire cartoon. I think from the beginning, pop-culture become an important code of my work.  However to become a cartoonist was never my dream. I always have a sense of delight when I draw something, and I keep drawing like crazy. 

I could say you have a very strong and clear style of painting. How did you find it, and why did you choose this one? 
While in college, I was enthusiastic in Willem De Kooning and Francis Bacon.  I couldn’t sleep at all for being fascinated by their e-pression mode and technique.  Their strokes are energy itself and I feel like they done it as there’s no second chance and any excuse.  I was influenced on them by nature, and they were a good teacher of mine. That lies at the foundation of my work. My style has been formed with being mixed pop-culture code surrounding me by nature through developing my work. 

What kind of emotions are you trying to express through your painted portraits? What message you are sending to others with your artworks? 
I draw famous person like a politician or an actor/actress.  Doing so, I try to extract unfamiliarity from the person who is familiar to everybody.  You can feel the unfamiliarity not from alien which you have never seen before, but from the things which you know well. The unfamiliar image I draw affects to break the way we see the things usually. I think that one of the important functions of art is to show the new-vision to the world. 

You seem as the person who is bored of the repetition in the world and the same things that we see, feel and experience. Why do you think we need that factor which brings something totally different and new to us? 
I despise the regular phenomenon rather then hate. Because these regular phenomenon implant the same vision of the world to everybody.  Uniformity could be the worst thing. 
For example, the image of ‘James Dean’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ is gradually fixed.  That is from having permanent repeatability.  I think we have few methodology to be refreshed, which we escape from permanent paradigm by breaking off or rupturing the repeatability. 

Would it be right to say, that a true artist always desires and feels a need of something new and different? 
Something new doesn’t always face to the future but you can extract it from the image of past.
New things which the artist is requested are discovery of new rather then creativity. 
It is important that the artist must be trained to interpret the world in different way.
If we trained well, then everything must be new or refreshed by nature. 

In many poetic writings, we always discover that the routine is killing the creativity and passion. Do you agree? Why? 
I agree with that some but not all in this decade. We already have system for creativity in our routine.  For example, network is one of these.  Now I can gather the data or communicate with others without huge energy. If you have enough passion for creativity, you can add another life in your routine. 

Some of artists can create art at night, or in early morning. Does the time period matters to you somehow? Why? 
It’s not that important to me. Because I do my work whenever I want to, and it happens anytime random. 

What is the biggest challenge for you in the process of creating art? 
I want to make some piece that people get the new visual experience and never forget. And that kind of impression which shows to the people the way of new methodology of vision, I hope, affects the vision of world of people’s. That’s one of my objective. I don’t know if it’s possible but still It’s my dream. 

Edward Hopper once said: “More of me comes out when I improvise.” Can you relate this quote to yourself?  
I completely agree with you. In fact, my work process is just like that.  As soon as I get a subject, I draw the image without any sketch. I want to extract the shape never designed by doing so. 
The planing prevents you from some mistake, but blocks some accidental happenings at the same time. It produces a piece trapping people inside of controlled world by artiest. Of course there are lot of great pieces with elaborated plan.  It’s all about style, I think.

Text Edited by Melissa Searle



The Highlight of the week: darkness of Alejandra Sáenz

Graphic designer from  Buenos Aires, Argentina Alejandra Sáenz, who also Artist on Tumblr, creates dark, mysterious and sharp illustrations. Even though I have chose to showcase only black & white works, she has some very beautiful and colorful artworks as well. You can check them out here. 


A small man in the big world: interview with Achraf Baznani

When Jonathan Swift published his world famous novel “Gulliver’s Travels” in 1726 he probably didn’t know that someday it would become a reality… Well, at least in the  photographic world. Achraf Baznani, based in Morocco, is a self-taught photographer who creates surrealistic self-portraits. As a small person in his artwork, he can walk on dining tables, and discover and interact with unusually large everyday items such as books and tea cups. Achraf first started creating short documentaries like “On”, “The Forgotten”, and “Immigrant” which earned him several national and international awards. Now, he is also the photographer who shows the world from a surrealistic angle. I have chosen to reflect one side of his portfolio: his minimalistic self-portraits. I hope you enjoy it!  

I’m personally a big fan of surrealistic artworks. When did you find yourself in the realm surrealism and its art? 
Photography has more than one source of learning, which ones are looked at depends on the person himself. Personally, I am a big fan of the Hungarian photographer “Robert Capa” and his immortal work, “The falling solder “. This shot is one of the most important images of war in the twentieth century.  That’s exactly what made me experiment with surreal and fantasy art, and creating images that the human mind doesn’t accept.

Why do you think we need surrealism in this world?
I think because we need a break from reality. Surrealism takes us from the real world to a dreaming one. We can recreate and share our dreams or surrealist ideas in real life through photography.

How was your idea to take your personal portraits in such a creative way conceived? 
For my works there are a variety of ways a concept falls into place. Most often it starts with a spark of inspiration and grows from there; whether it is a person, design, story that needs to be told… regardless, it all starts with a single point. From there it becomes simple problem solving. I don’t spend very much time looking at what other people are doing. I like to stay aware and connected to what others are doing by following sites such as Flickr but beyond that, I spend the rest of my time meeting people, creating, and really just living life. I think the best way to be inspired is not to just try to emulate others, but to find what inspires you in life and trying to capture and share it. 

You use a lot of items from your home to create your small world and put yourself in it. Is it hard for you to be inspired by the same things and environment? 
I can easily find ideas and use the same objects to design my work. Using the same objects across multiple works is not appreciated by everyone and that’s why I like it; it is the sense of creativity.

Are you going to try anything different in terms of photography? 
I love macro photography. What I love most about macro photography is the surprise elements that always pop out. Those surprises are fine details that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but which emerge clearly when the photo is enlarged. What is so tempting about macro photography and photographing insects that the photographer can spend hours behind a small creature to get an impossible shot. It’s the beautiful patterns, or I should say the designs, that the insects are gifted with and we are not.

What is your biggest dream related to art? 
Ever since I started photography, it has always been a dream to have my photographs printed up large and posted on the wall. Exhibiting my artwork is my biggest dream.

What would be your advice to beginners who would like to experiment with surrealism through photography? 
It’s never easy to succeed and sustain going pro and freelance in the beginning. I know people who can take anywhere between 6 months to countless years… it will take dedication and luck, but hard work and perseverance is the key. Never give up, no matter how hard it is. Nothing is impossible.

Text edited by Melissa Searle



The Highlight of the Week: Nightscapes by Jakob Wagner

Most of you probably already have seen this amazing project and many others that are created and presented by German photographer Jakob Wagner. After a short chat with him, we have decided to highlight his project on the website. Project “Nightscapes” highlights the beauty of various cities in the night. Photographer visited such cities as Shanghai, New York,  Dubai, Los Angeles, Chicago, Manila, Cape Town and many more… He started the project in 2009 with a big goal to present as many night cities as he can; and here you go! Such a beauty! 


Interview with Norris Yim: Momuklo and his world 

Hong Kong based artist, Norris Yim, is an illustrator and architect who began drawing two years ago and went on to create very lovely, emotional but at the same time minimalist, character Momuklo. You can find him in many of his works even though Norris, of course, has many different types of illustration. However, you might notice that most of them are quite simple: he uses only a few colors, minimal details and etc. I think Norris’ talent revolves around the capturing and translation of emotion through simplicity. We had a short discussion about his Momuklo character and several other things about the artist himself. Enjoy!

Your illustration is achieved and presented in minimalist way. Is it because you want to focus on the main object, or for another reason? 
MOMUKLO expresses philosophy in simple ways, inspired by ‘Less is More’ in my Spatial Design series. I think using simplicity is good way to tell a story and for the audience to understand. I will use MOMUKLO’s elements to discover other styles & moods in future. I keep continuously changing style to become more crazy and interesting with MOMUKLO in my series because i keep drawing to find out a new way to represent myself more.

 Most of your illustrations have the same portrait/face. Why is that so? 
I draw MOMUKLO to look calm & peaceful, almost like Zen (in mentality) as he faces the world. It represents how we should stay calm all the time when we have to deal with many different situations, even, for me, through the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city. MOMUKLO could be a physical representations of my feelings as I’m a non-tempered person in any situation. I use MOMUKLO to show my views - Peaceful – and to tell a story.

Even though your art seems to be simple and straight-forward, I always find a lot of emotions in every illustration that you have made. Is it hard for you as the artist to express the difficulty of emotion in simplicity?
I don’t know if it is hard or not as I naturally to come up with the ideas for my graphics. Simplicity is one of my favorite styles; simple lines with simple shading coming together to tell a story. I want MOMUKLO to be kept in that style. Actually, you can find in more of my recent works that I have drawn his portrait with alternative sketches and different styles because I like experimenting to discover more styles and to enhance my skills and horizons.

What elements in your life helped to shape you as an artist? 
At first I wanted to show what I was thinking in my mind. When I studied spatial design I discovered more about the world, however, it’s hard to represent my mind in my city so I try to use my illustrations to speak out and recognize myself more. When drawing/illustrating became my main activity, I started indulging in art and my imagination grew bigger and I transferred this to paper. Maybe I’ve also been shaped by personal and social events. 

What are your biggest dreams related to your art at the moment? 
My biggest dream would be that I want my art to interflow with more artists so I can keep learning from them. I would love more people to appreciate my work… and I want to use drawings to show personal feelings in different stages. Finally, I hope art could balance my life. I want my art to prove that I have lived.

Text edited by Melissa Searle 


Weekly highlight: Superheroes by Andrei Nicolescu

Illustrator, architect, painter and graphic designer Andrei Nicolescu (who is also an artist on tumblr) has presented to us his great project called “Superheroes”. Romanian artist, based in Bucharest, showcased famous superheroes in a different way. The illustrations itself reminds me a little bit of cubism. I, honestly, think that it is a very nice way to illustrate something that has been illustrated sooo many times already. You can check out for more of his artworks here.  


30 seconds project: interview with Gerald Emming

Self-taught photographer, Gerald Emming, based in the Netherlands, presented to us his new and interesting project called “30 Seconds”. The Award-winning photographer simply attempts to capture the beauty of people in the streets. Photographs without any premeditation try to reveal the beauty of naturalism. I think, personally, that these portraits look brilliant and I wouldn’t have guessed that they were taken without any preparation; the people in these portraits look absolutely brilliant! Gerald, who is also a professional filmmaker at the University Medical Center of Groningen, kindly agreed to have a small chat with me about this unique project and tell more about himself as well. 

So, tell us more about yourself. How long have you been into photography? 
I held my first (Agfa) camera when I was a kid. My father taught me the basics and my neighbor had a “dark room”, so I played around with photography and experimented from then onwards. In 2008 I picked up photography in a more serious way. I have been making films and educational movies since 2000, and the gap between both worlds is small. The introduction of Digital Cameras and Photoshop opened a whole new dimension for me. 

Are you a self-taught photographer? 
Yes. I followed some Workshops, Videos and Tutorials to learn some specific areas of photography and also went to the Dutch Fotoacademie. Besides that I learn a lot just by viewing and analyzing lots of images. 

Why did you decide that you wanted to capture people portraits without any preparation? In the end, this is what this project about, right? 
Yes, that is what it is all about! When I bought a decent DLSR I basically started this project to learn. Shooting images under all circumstances when you have basically no time to think. So my goal was to learn how my camera worked. I shoot with Carl Zeiss Lenses with manual focus to give it an extra dimension and old school feeling. I must admit that I choose Carl Zeiss because I think they give me the best result in terms of quality. I capture images of people on the street that I’ve never met before, without any preparation, within 30 seconds, trying to achieve “the same” result as when I would capture images of the same person in the studio.

Is it hard to attract people that would like to participate in your project? 
I spot people in a crowded area, like shopping centers. I simply ask them if I may talk to them about something, and after that I tell them about the project as briefly as possible, meanwhile trying to make them feel comfortable. I show them some examples to show them what it’s all about. About 7 or 8 people cooperate out of every 10 I ask so it’s not so hard.

How long are you going to continue this project? 
It’s a long-lasting project. It is still fun to do, the way you approach a stranger, getting the look within 30 seconds in a crowded street and at the end the stranger has to focus as well. That makes this project really great to do. As the story continues, I must admit that I look differently at the people I choose to ask in comparison to some years before, I have become picky with who I choose. Besides that I’m working with other projects as well, so the challenge is to find the right balance between both worlds. The great thing about this project is that you can pick it up anytime you want.

What are trying to tell to others in this project?
I want to show with this project that you can learn a lot with only your camera and yourself. Not only how you should take a good shot under any circumstance, it’s also the interaction with an unknown human being, learning to spot a face and look in a crowd, learning to think 10 steps further ahead. When I ask a person with the specific look I want, I know my image could be really great!

What was the most challenging thing regarding your idea?
The most challenging stranger was a man I asked who was mildly autistic. I was drawn by his face and looks, and tried to convince him about the project. But the conversation was tough and he didn’t understand what I really wanted and besides that he was in a real hurry. But in the end he agreed (I think he still had no idea what it was all about). The first shots were terrible, he was distracted by the passengers all around him, but after my first frames I told him to look straight into the camera with his chin angled down a little and I had my frame. In the end it was my favorite image as well, this man beats everyone else from all the people I shot during this project!

What main assumptions have you made or what interesting things have you noticed during this project? 
I noticed that every person acts in a different way. I have captured more than 2000 strangers so far, and they are all so very different. The people you have great expectations about don’t always work out, and people for whom you had your doubts turned out to give you the look you were looking for. So I learned that you should always give it a try and more importantly, don’t give up! It may give you the image you were looking for! 

Edited by Melissa Searle 


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