Another one of our featured artists, meet Selena from BananaMoon99. She is a Chinese-American self taught artist with a love for digital art and colour. Read more about her here!
Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself and who you are as an artist?
Hi! My name is Selena and I’m a self taught artist from Pennsylvania. I like doing digital art of landscapes, scenery, and people with lots of colours!
What’s your background and what is something that you’d like to share with people about your culture?
I graduated college with degrees in Cognitive Science and Piano Performance, but I always loved art. I started doing oil painting and traditional pen and ink drawings when I was 8 and I’ve been in love since.
I’m Chinese but I grew up in America. I feel like Chinese culture is very unique and I’m glad to see its modern culture takes inspiration from the history and traditional mediums of Chinese art and mix it with its newer art forms in order to keep the past still alive.
How did your journey as an artist start and how has it progressed?.
I used to just pause cartoons I was watching and draw what I see on the screen because I wanted to keep pictures of my favorite characters. I kept doing this but eventually wanted to be able to draw characters in different poses, in different settings, so I eventually started learning anatomy and perspective on my own. Art has always been a creative outlet for me, but I really started taking it more seriously in college after getting frustrated with my art one year. Because I never really learned the basics when I first started drawing, I’m still struggling with anatomy and perspective, but I’m learning more every day!
Who are your creative influences and why?
I grew up idolizing manga artists because of how complex each panel has to be. I particularly love Eiichiro Oda’s and Junji Ito’s work!
What sort of themes or stories do you like to tell? Or is there a specific style that you gravitate towards?
Although in my normal day to day I only ever wear black or white, maybe a bit of grey, I tend to gravitate towards more colour and themes that are reminiscent of retro vibes, like Cowboy Bebop, and vaporwave culture. I really liked vaporwave culture in high school because it represents themes of retreating into cyberspace and idolizing nostalgia. It comes off with a bit of a 'rebellious teenager' vibe, but I like to think of it more in a modern sense. People go on social media to escape the day to day a bit and play video games to relieve stress - everybody needs a break once in a while and I think vaporwave culture encompasses that desire.
Do you ever find yourself stuck for inspiration and what do you do to overcome that?
I usually write down any ideas I have at any time on a Notes page on my phone. The list is massive so I never really get stuck on ideas. I get more stuck on art style; sometimes I like my art style, or sometimes I hate it and everything I draw for a couple days or weeks just goes into scraps because I don’t like how it looks. I usually take a couple days to return back to traditional drawing and just sketch as many pages as I can until I like what I see again, whether that’s because I completely changed my style in that time or because I learned something new in terms of anatomy and perspective.
Can you talk about the artworks that you have done for Exit 9 and what your inspiration was?
I drew these when there were a lot of Asian hate crimes happening. I think a lot of things happen not only because there is just hatred or bias in some people’s hearts, but also because of a lack of understanding and not wanting to understand. I think if Asian culture and the history behind the pop culture we love were more widely spread and seen more often, our culture would be more accepted and appreciated.
What do you think is an artist’ role in shaping society and culture?
Artists’ can influence people and give a voice to those who can’t be heard, especially because art can be used to make people feel and see more than could be felt with just words.
Where do you want to take your art journey in the future?
I’m not quite sure now, but I definitely want to keep pursuing art. I want to keep drawing and maybe influence people to also start their own journeys.
If you could give any advice to your younger self (and other aspiring artists out there), what would it be?
If something doesn’t click, keep at it until you feel like you’ve given your best. But if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. There are so many things to try, ways to create, and styles to explore. You’ll eventually find what works for you!
This interview has been edited for readability and formatting.