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At only 16 years old, Michelle Ku has already taken a huge step into the art world. She has gotten an early start in her art career by taking lessons since she was 5 years old and making the decision to become a part of the International Baccalaureate program for Art. Michelle also has an online store, Tokushu, where she designs and paints custom shoes.
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
MK: My favorite always changes, sometimes I look at stuff I did a month ago and hate it, and then look back at it again in a year and think it is pretty good. Right now my favorite is an acrylic and watercolor painting I did two months ago. It’s my favorite because I worked really hard on coming up with how to draw the concept. I am most proud of my original and concept art, because they are the ones I spend the most time on and are always thinking about.
TP: When you first started did you ever hit any bumps in your art process. How did you overcome them?
MK: I hit bumps all the time, always so bumpy, haha. If something just isn’t working, I take a break from it, then come back in a couple hours and I can see it fresh again. It also helps to flip the image or look in a mirror, you can see if something looks weird way more easily.
Whenever I get art blocks, I go to my sketchbook. I have kept this over time and fill it with nice color schemes I come across, and sketch down ideas whenever I have them. I just put down anything that catches my eye or inspires me and come back to it later.
TP: Who or what are your inspirations and why?
MK: As cheesy as it sounds, I am inspired by everything. When something happens or someone says something that just stays in my mind, I usually want to paint it, or I keep thinking about the concept. I am mostly inspired by kids, such as my 5 year old brother and also the kids I work with when I volunteer at the art program at the Boys and Girls Club. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m still a kid too.
And of course my art teacher, Dillon Huang. He has taught me to be inspired by beauty that often goes unnoticed by others.
TP: What artists would you consider working with to do a piece?
MK: I would be willing to work with anybody who has good ideas and is creative. I’d also be honored to work with any artist whose art I love. I am pretty laid back and I truly believe that I can learn from everyone.
TP: If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
MK: I would really like to master digital art because it is becoming more and more important in the graphic design/illustration industries now. But I mostly want to master it because I love painting digitally, and it gives freedoms that you don’t have in traditional painting, such as
ctrl-z, layers, and custom brushes, but there are many more. Here is some digital art I’ve done recently.
The painting of the sky was a speedpaint, the one of the girl was done in Photoshop, and the Nemo fan art was done on an iPad. The toaster robot is an original character.
TP: What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby or make it a career?
MK: My plan is to continue my shoe business for income while I’m in university, so that I can have more flexibility in working hours. I am going to pursue graphic design, advertising, or visual communications in university, possibly with a minor in business communications. I’m not completely sure yet, but I cannot see myself in a job that has nothing to do with art. Art will always be a huge part of my life.
TP: Do you feel that your culture has influenced you in some way that makes you different than other artists?
MK: Mostly,my Chinese culture has influenced me to be open to all types of food, HAHA. As for art, I have tried traditional Chinese painting a couple times, but I’d like to learn more.