Interview with Jing Hu at Ion Art Gallery

OIC artist Jing Hu has a series of paintings featured in the exhibition, “The Lust for Art”, curated by Art Fellas Gallery, running from 19 to 28 August 2015.  We catch up with her at the opening night of the show at Ion Art gallery.

Indulge Me Indulge Me
Jing Hu’s two favourite pieces from her series, “Indulge Me”.
Water colour on paper.

What led you to embark on your artistic journey?

I started drawing at a very young age, and I have loved drawing since I was a little kid, but I wasn’t prepared to do it full-time professionally.  Initially, during my high school years, I remember my classmates were all watching animation and telling me that they wanted to be full-time comic artists, and I was the one telling them that probably I want to do it part-time as a hobby.  I guess the turning point for me was when I was seventeen, I was selected by MDA for the First-Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative.  I was paired up with Chuangyi Publishing and the editorial team to work on my debut graphic novel, Lament, which I spent two years doing, and I thought that maybe it was proof that I should pursue this passion.

What are your favourite media?

For black-and-white, I always like to use the micron pens and markers, and for colours, it’s difficult to choose, ‘cos I really do a lot of different media. For example, sometimes I would do digital painting with a Wacom tablet, and sometimes for traditional ones, I do both acrylic and water colours.

Indulge Me by Jing Hu Indulge Me by Jing Hu
From the series, “Indulge Me”. Water colour on paper.

What are your influences?

Visually, I’m very influenced by Japanese illustrations, and also the variety of fine art exhibitions I go to.  I tend to soak in different things.  I have so many influences that it is difficult to say!

What kind of subjects attract you as a painter?

For traditional paintings, what gives me inspiration is what happens around me, for example it can be real-life events or things I read in the newspaper.

Is there a theme in your paintings?

My paintings come in different stages, and each series will have a separate theme.  The series at this exhibition is called “Indulge Me”.  It is influenced by Victorianish paintings, and the theme is the underbelly of perversity in that era.  I feel that people of that era, the women especially, they lack a sense of personality, and it feels like their dresses and their possessions actually shape their personalities, and they themselves are becoming soulless.

Indulge Me Indulge Me
From the series, “Indulge Me”. Water colour on paper.

Have you experienced any conflict or synergy between your identities as comic artist, illustrator and fine artist?

There’s always this conflict, and I think it’s always a problem I’m struggling with and trying to overcome.  It’s integrated into my process of working, and it also shapes my themes and when developing what I’m interested in.  So I’d say, it’s quite a big conflict, but it’s what makes making art so interesting!

How long have you been doing art?

I’ve been drawing comics for ten years, and painting for maybe … eight years?  I’m very bad with maths!

How long does each piece take to complete?

Oh, it’s very tedious.  For this series, I think each one took me about three weeks.  Yah, I’m very slow!

Describe your creative process.

Usually, the first stage is quite random — I just soak in influence from music I’m listening to, or animation, or movies, or different things I’m watching, and then I find something I’m interested in, and afterwards maybe I’ll try to narrow it down into a theme.  That comes to the research stage, where I would look up readings or more imagery.  I will have a rough draft in my mind, and it will slowly develop into putting it on canvas.  By that stage, it’s a studio process, becoming a conversation I have with the canvas, which involves me looking at the painting, adding something on, flipping the painting and doing something else to it, so it’s quite intuitive afterwards.

Annabella Goh & Jing Hu
Annabella Goh & Jing Hu at Ion Art Gallery

Do you have a need to paint?  What will happen if you didn’t create art?

I feel a dying urge to paint all the time!  If I don’t paint, I would start feeling anxious, so making art is part of being meditative and a relief for me.  I also feel like, if I don’t paint, I feel very useless, because I feel like I’m not good at anything else!

What other path might you have chosen if you didn’t become an artist?

I think artist is the only thing I can do — I really don’t think I can do anything else!

Jing Hu’s art site:
Jing Hu’s comics art site:

“The Lust for Art” showcases 18 Singaporean and international artists such as Chua Mia Tee and Cultural Medallion Award recipient Chua Boon Kee.  It runs from 19 to 28 August 2015, at ION Orchard, Level 4 ION Art Gallery.