Sunday, January 20, 2013

James Ong

Name: James Ong

What do you do?
I am a product designer creating art that moves (mobiles, marble rolls/runs) and moves people to play using their senses (OBO, now - sculptural blocks). I also move paint around on canvas.

Where can we find your work? 

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I have things to say that cannot be said in words. Only through shapes, color, texture, and movement can I express my inner thoughts and feelings. Sometimes when things get tough I cannot create art. If I try the art is dark, reflecting my inner state. By taking a break from creating art and looking at the work of others I get inspired to start creating art.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process? 
Process is more important. Focusing on the process requires our undivided attention and presence. The end product will be revealed in time. This does not mean that I don’t care about the final result. Only by living in the present and paying attention to what we are doing can our intention, imagination flow onto the canvas without the anxiety of how things will turn out.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
Isamu Noguchi, Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Bruno Munari, Paul Klee

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
Doc Savage because he is everything I am not.

When do you get your best ideas?
When I’m alone with my imagination. Also, when I’m walking around and before waking up in the morning when I’m still drowsy.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
Preliminary work: Sketchbook, pen, pencil - I do a lot of sketches 
Tools: X-acto knife, scissors, cutting mat, ruler, compass, screw-punch, pen, pencil brushes
Materials: Wood, paper, canvas, tape, thread, reed, paint

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
Both. I was an ex-engineer who went back to art school (Academy of Art University) to get a MFA in Product Design focusing on Toy Design. I have also taken a number of art workshop/classes like weaving on a loom, printmaking and abstract painting, 
Art school really helped me to open up, to see the world in a new way. It gave me the freedom and the desire to want to create things from my imagination. I am open to new ideas and ways of doing in creating my designs and artwork. I approach art making like a child at play, open to experimenting with the materials and letting my curiosity take over.
Being self-taught (books, magazines, videos, experimentation) and formally educated has increase the scope of my art/design work. I can choose among a number of art/design mediums and methods to create my works.

What would your creative work taste like?
Subtle, sweet, memorable with a wonderful lingering aftertaste.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
Read action/mystery books, watch movies, browse in bookstores, visit art/design museums and galleries, dream about playing table tennis again.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
I was an unhappy engineer. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. Everything changed when I entered art school and found my calling. I learned to see and feel in colors, shapes, forms, and texture.
In art school there was so much creative vibe and energy that I was motivated to create stuff no one else had done before. I learned by observing, questioning (What if?), experimenting, failing, and just trying different things. 
After art school I showed my work and portfolio to other artists, designers, and educators and received very favorable feedback on my creativity, imagination, and work. This really gave me the confidence to put my work out there. It is still a struggle for me to show my work since I’m an introverted introvert. I would rather create art/design than talk about it.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
Read, ask questions, stay curious. Be present and maintain a beginner’s mind in whatever you do. Be open to new ideas. Experiment. Believe in what you are doing. If you don’t have the skills either take workshop/classes or learn from a book or from other artists/designers. Join an art/design group. Don’t try to do it by yourself. Support from others is really important. Don’t overthink. Just start doing. Dream Big, Take Action.

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