justART! Scary Conceptions

Jessica Wan
Words by Jenkin Au & Ryan Mitchell
Photography by Albert Law

That’s what it is… to us at least! Jessica Wan is an artist that creates very interesting pieces of art. Her range of artwork goes from scenes of apocalyptic fiction, to surrealism and to scary. However, when you look at her work, you just can’t look at one. The justalilhype! Crew met up with Jessica to talk about her style of art and about certain pieces of hers.

Tell us about you and your personality

I think I’m more mellow and shy. I like to meet new people but I’m not the type of person that is really outgoing. I think I express myself a lot in my artwork. You can see that I do a lot of self portraits and some of them are really scary looking, but that’s not how I look.

Do you think your shyness is the dangerous side of you? Because you said how it’s a self portrait but a lot of it is scary and edgy.

I think it reveals a part of me and sometimes it’s for fun. Sometimes I just exaggerate one element of me.

What is your style of art?

I like doodling, painting, drawing…I don’t know my style, I just draw. I like to do visual arts and ceramics and maybe photography.

You’re really into digital art. It’s not something that someone of our age could grow up with. What got you into it? Most people get into art at a young age.

I went to VFS after I graduated from Emily Carr and that’s how I found out that there are the digital arts and matte painting. That is the first time that I found out that there was something more than just traditional painting.

Your art work is quite abstract. Let’s talk about a few, starting with “Are You Looking At Me”, the naked skeleton. Can you tell us some background on this?

When I was doing this painting, I was studying Frida Kahlo and she is a surrealist artist. The skeleton is sort of my self portrait.

What are you trying to portray? What kind of emotions were you going through when you did this?

My personality and depression.

Did you draw this at a low point of your life?

No, not this one, but there are other ones that I did but I didn’t put them in my website because I thought it was too dark. When I look back, it’s too sad and I don’t like it anymore.

This is pretty dark already, though!

You think so?

Yeah definitely. It’s so mysterious but intriguing at the same time. You definitely want to ask the skeleton, “What’s wrong?”

Well, it’s more like what’s left inside and what your true self is.

What about the “Fish” picture? Can you tell us about this?

I was studying organs and cells and, again, it’s revealing my personality and what’s inside my mind; I can’t explain this so I put it into my artwork and make it pretty with different colours.

Through the past few pictures that we’ve done, you said that you do a lot of the personal self portraits. Why do you do so many self portraits?

I think self portraits are the best way to express yourself. A lot of my work is done unconsciously and I realize it afterwards; I don’t expect to do self portraits but it just happens that way, so I can’t really tell you why.

What do you usually exaggerate when you do paintings with exaggerations?

Well, usually, I would make the painting more depressing, bloodier and scarier [than real life].

Why is that? Is it just the way you’re feeling?

I guess so.

Where do you get your ideas for all these abstract artworks?

From different artists. I research a lot of artists in magazines and from friends. Also, like the organs, I would start on one thing and then expand from there.

Do you feel like you ever borrowed other people’s styles?

Yes, especially with pop art. I feel like I want to be one of them, but not completely, because I still want it to be my art.

Alright. Moving back to the artwork, what’s going on in “Dream”? (The picture with the various colours in a circle that looks like an organ of some sort.

There’s a lot of depression, again. (Laughs) I don’t think I’m trying to say that I am a very depressed person, but I just want to rebel and this is a different type of rebellion. I use lots of vivid colours because I don’t think that my appearance is like that; I just want to do the opposite of who I am right now.

Moving on to your concept creations, whose paradise is that? (Referring to “Paradise”)

It could be mine. Maybe it’s a paradise that I want to be in. It’s a matte painting that I did a while ago and I like the colour.

It is very natural; I like it. What do you think exists in this paradise?

Happy people.

What would exist in YOUR paradise?

Just happy people doing their thing, enjoying what they’re doing. When I did this painting, I didn’t have any goal and it was more like practice to me.

Why did you choose this one as your main splash screen to your website?

After I finished, I really liked it. It was really peaceful and I liked the colours. So far, this is my favourite.

Some of your creations are good enough for apocalyptic fiction movies. What got you started with the city destruction artworks?

With the first one that I did, it was after I saw the movies “Constantine” and “28 Days Later”; they are what inspired me. I think this is reflected in my artwork as well; I like to discover the dark side of the world. “28 Days Later” is my favourite movie.

Did you like “28 Weeks Later”?

No, it was too much. The second one wasn’t very good. I don’t like scary movies, though.

How are these apocalyptic fiction movies not scary? Especially with all the zombies and flesh-eaters.

I like the human nature, but I don’t like ghosts.

Your overall theme of pictures can be considered straight out creepy to many people. How do you respond to that?

I like them to be scared. I don’t know, I didn’t set out to scare people. I just wanted to explore the human nature. A lot of my ideas come from movies.

What is HYPE?

I think it is about being passionate, like what you guys are doing right now. I think it’s about being yourself, being true and being elegant, not being ignorant; keeping an open mind but still being who you are.