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Art & Life with Lee Hong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lee Hong.

Lee, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My hometown and where I spent my years growing up is in Los Angeles, California where I also currently reside now. In my life, there have been many struggles and hardships I had to face alone that now heavily influences my work. I come from a family with very traditional views regarding identity and roles each person must take. That being said, I grew to find out that I am transgender and identify as male. My youth was not without heartache when I was shunned and removed from my family’s way of life. Although there were moments of despair, I was able to rely on myself and especially my art to help me in dire times. I wouldn’t say that I grew up in a background that praised artistic careers, but I found that my passion helped me find my own aspirations. To me, art is a way for me and others to see themselves be represented when often times it is not.

It’s not all despair though as I was lucky enough to be accepted and attend college to further pursue my artistic abilities. My happiest years were surely when I was able to show myself openly for the first time as well as meeting others of the same likeness. I have now more than ever been able to express myself and ideas into my work which I continue to do each day. I have a burning passion to continue this for as long as I exist as I want my own experiences to be heard so others may speak of their own. As of 2018, I am a senior at Laguna College of Art + Design completing my year-long fully animated film.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My life is just a burning desire to create stories, characters, and designs that snap back and show the diversity in all lives and experiences. There is a ridiculous amount of people whose stories go unheard and lack representation in a field where we are oversaturated with sensationalized sameness in media. I can guarantee that most of the stories that go unheard are also those that are underrepresented and misrepresented if at all shown. I can say that growing up surrounded by so much diversity I always asked myself why I never see myself or others in mainstream media. I’m alive today to create work that will shine a light to stories that are often left unheard and fight for everyone that wants to do the same. I feel the pain of all those shot down in conceptualizing new ideas and characters because they do not fit the standards of what is desired among the majority.

My inspiration is all those that stand up against cruel adversity and work hard to show themselves into the world. My art is a scream out to present the underrepresented and hopefully what people can take from it is to make more diversified art and ideas themselves. To have an open heart and work towards having others be seen in works of art and media. I work hard every day to create work that represents myself and others. Every time I make something I put myself into it in some way if I can. If I’m not making art like this then who will? I exist to fight back with my art, and I’ll continue to do so until the end.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
The difficulties in an artists livelihood are constantly changing, so it’s always hard to give a solid answer. It seems that opportunities and offers are everywhere but so are the numerous artists searching for the same chances in. I would say with the current state of today there are several complications artists are facing financially that usually dampers the tenacious spirit of pursuing a full-time art career. Some big ways to help online is sharing their work with credit, commissioning artists and/or spreading their influence to others. Connections are the split of getting a job opportunity or missing chances at potential openings if not well connected.

I can say for sure the biggest dealbreaker is the term “unpaid internship.” If you really want to encourage the starving artist than I will say that experience with no paycheck doesn’t pay the bills. If companies or commissioners really want to show their support to artists in the making, then it really has to be thought of as an established job. Many artists I speak to having to work below-recommended prices or nothing at all leave some feeling less than ideal, you know? If cities with art-related jobs or startups want to truly help artists thrive let’s start with a decent payment and treating the artists as a worker and not a favor.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
LeeHong.me is my online portfolio, and I may also be found under social media with the alias @0hlee for most accounts! I primarily use Instagram & Tumblr for presenting my work aside from my portfolio.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
By Lee Hong @0hlee

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