Questions with Andrea Kang: Cute Subtle Anxiety

October 24, 2016

Questions with Andrea Kang: Cute Subtle Anxiety

Many of us at PIQ would love to live in the world created by artist Andrea Kang, populated by adorable creatures who are trying to figure things out just like the rest of us. For two weeks the PIQ store in Grand Central Terminal NYC becomes a corner of her world with her solo show of new works, Puff Puff. Andrea was kind enough to talk with us about her art, process, and those little animals inside the balloons.

Puff Puff, Oct 29- Nov 12 PIQ Grand Central Terminal NYC

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

Your beautiful color palette unites all of your work, yet you use combinations from it to express so many moods. How did your color language develop? Were there any influences from your childhood?

I’ve always just been particularly sensitive to colors. I take notice of it everywhere I go, whether it’s walking down an aisle in a market or in nature. I used to play this game as a kid in my head when we took long drives with my family where I’d see a color, say dark brown of the bark of a passing tree, I would then quickly try and find another thing that would complement that color. Sometimes would do that for a long time, just putting different color combos together in my mind. There was something relaxing about it.

Some influences from childhood were cute stationery I obsessively collected from Korea and Japan and from a giant sewing book my mom had that had directions and patterns on how to sew different costumes, plush figures, and craft items.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

At first look the characters in your world seem sweet, then you notice rain clouds, totem faces, ghosts, and black tears. How did the emotional complexity of the creatures in your world develop? Are the characters telling you different stories now than when you started?

I feel like the characters were always telling a similar narrative. The story of being lost in a world farther away and dreamier than ours that’s filled with lots of curious creatures and characters that are trying to figure out their own realities.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

You work in so many mediums, watercolor, paper cuts, digital, pencils, ink. Which one was most influential in developing your style?

Think the cut paper art just because it was really early on in my career. During this period I was experimenting with lots of different characters and mediums, which organically helped develop my brand.

I liked that the paper was tactile and that it gave me options to incorporate lots of different colors and textures into my compositions. In a way, working in that method also inspired me to create exaggerated characters that look as though they too could be cut out. And like the palette of papers, I wanted to be able to retain the same rich muted matte colors which I realized could be achievable by painting lots of multiple layers of acrylic gouache.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

The large production vinyl pieces maintain the warmth and personality of your hand made pieces. How do you keep that connection in the manufacturing process?

I think it’s because the designs of the characters themselves retain that personality that I’ve created for them. I take the same care in hand painting my pieces as I do drawing up and designing a figure that will be produced. Guess I kind of detach myself from the manufacturing process as that’s more technical and focus on the design itself, making sure color palettes are on point and that the idea will complement the form and material it’s being produced in. If the design is tight, usually the quality and warmth will maintain as well.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

What inspired your themes of masks and costumes?

As a kid I always loved dressing up…Halloween being one of my favorite holidays! I’m also intrigued with the hidden and the idea that a mask or costume can temporarily give a sometimes fragile creature or character a stronger facade and personality.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

On your birthday do you make tiny hats for all of your guests? I hope so.

Ha! Haven’t yet for myself, but have tried something similar for my dog Harlow’s birthday a couple of years back. Though it failed miserably as both her and my kitty hated being dressed up.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

Do you have a favorite filmmaker and how have they effected your style or guided how you think about your characters?

One of my favorites is Sophia Coppola. Love that her films have a soft dreamlike atmosphere to them, but with an underlying sadness and angst to the story as well as the characters. This dichotomy is also the way that I like to think about my characters. Visually they can come off cute and subtle, but underlying are more intricate thoughts and emotions like anxiety and unfulfillment.

Andrea Kang Puff Puff

What musician do you listen to when you need to recharge creatively?

Don’t think there’s just one, but if I had to name a couple - early M.I.A and Radiohead.

PIQ is a company born in New York and based in Brooklyn. So I have to ask, what is your favorite place in New York?

Hmm...hard to pick just one. Since I have a sweet tooth I’d have to choose my favorite dessert place, Cha An in the East Village. They have an amazing nontraditional black sesame crème brulée that’s amazing!

The sleeping animals in the balloons, is it Ok that I am worried about them?

Ha! No, they’re all okay! There’s an oxygen bubble inside, they’re safer in there than out here.

Andrea Kang  Andrea Kang is an illustrator, designer, and toy maker whose art is populated with woodland creatures, stoic bears, and costumed humans, all seen through a lens of nostalgia and complex emotions. A Masters graduate from The Rhode Island School of Design, Andrea creates work in multiple mediums as well as designing for major art toy companies and fashion brands.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.