Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Art of Asia Schultz

Asia Schultz at only twenty-one years of age is a talented young artist, enrolled in the Lakehead University Fine Arts program. Her talent at mixing both high art and low art is a great example of style mixing where some influences come from established English portrait artists like Lucien Freud, Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Francis Bacon, and German artist Max Beckman.
     However, Asia is unusual in that she successfully blends into her work styles from such disparate Japanese artists as animator Hayao Miyazaki and any number of artists who create anime characters that can be found most easily in online web comics, both professionally designed and created by amateurs from all over the world.
     Born and raised in Thunder Bay Asia’s first major influence in style came from the darker works of artist Clint Kraft who teaches at Hammarskjhold High School.
     “Mr. Kraft was great for not limiting us,” says Asia. “He was really open to letting us explore what we really wanted to explore, which I really appreciated. He never told us we had to work in a particular style, like work only in realism or work only in abstract. He let us try a lot of things.”
     Asia began her university education enrolled in psychology, but had her love of drawing rekindled dramatically in her second year in Quinten Maki’s drawing class. She then decided to enroll full time in the fine arts program where she also discovered she had a great love of art history, thoroughly enjoying Christi Holmes’ classes, where Asia says the students are allowed to explore some of their own interpretations of how art history evolved.
     Asia is also unusual in that she had a bit of a head start in her artistic education in a way that most artists can only dream of, not only was she born with some talent, she had an artistic compatriot who was an easily accessible companion who could influence and motivate her by being extremely critical without causing any sting, insecurity or doubt.
    Asia has an identical twin who also likes to draw.
    And true to twins, although they share some of the same traits and interests, each is their own person with completely different personalities. Asia’s sister, Kimberly, is not studying art at university, but continues to enjoy drawing “as a side thing.”
   Asia explains that as children, “Me and my twin sister, we didn’t really have any artistic influences in our lives. So Kimberley and I would spend a lot of time drawing together. It was simple to do and we liked to see what the other could do. We would choose the same thing to draw and see how each other drew it. It was interesting to see how the other interpreted the subject, but we grew to develop our own styles. …. It was something that we could improve daily and practice without being competitive, not trying to outdo each other. I always had someone who could give me confidence. It was a lot of back and forth that helped us. We never judged. And we never thought something was taboo. We got lot of encouragement from each other.”
     In conversation Asia talks about influence from her favourite Miyazaki film, Kiki’s Delivery Service, the Vampire Hunter D series, graphic novels, kids cartoons and something called “gemsonas,” which are cartoon portraits made of oneself, inspired Steven Universe, a spinoff of Adventure Time.
     “I like kids cartoons that don’t underestimate the intelligence of children. They [the creators] understand they have large audiences so they try to make it interesting for everyone.”
     So when it comes to painting and finding her own style, Asia isn’t on a mission to find one style to express herself.
       “I enjoy the fine arts and the intelligence of it and what can grow in that specific mindset, but I do like the mainstream art culture and the pop culture elements that allow you to explore aspects that may not be art but allow you do to your own cartoons, your own animations. I really do enjoy doing figurative works that tests my intelligence and challenge how I can portray something. Painting is where I am better at exploring figurative works. Drawing is where I explore other things, like handmade animations, getting back to your roots in drawing without having to worry about being super polished.” Asia adds, smiling, “And I like working in a gothicky Victorian aesthetic.”
     When asked what kind of advice she would give to young, up and coming artists, Asia offers up insightful multiple suggestions.
     “I learned a lot from copying other artists. I explored already well-received artistic styles, and looked into what exactly I could offer, what my voice could be. I didn’t have to worry what people thought, because I was working in a style that people already loved. I’m learning to become an individual – even though everything has already been done.”
      “You shouldn’t feel self-conscious about what you want to do. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to the great masters. You can still be good at what you want to do without creating great masterpieces.”

     After some thought she adds, “There’s no one way to be a great artist. Especially now, there are so many ways to create art. And it’s really important. Web comic artists, artists on Tumblr, they reveal how people have come to grow into many styles.”  

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