The Q&A: Nancy Liang

By Peggy Roalf   Monday March 27, 2017

Q: Originally from Sydney, Australia, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in your current locale?

A: Some of my favorite things in Sydney includes the architecture and culture. It does not have a particular style, rather being a mix of old and new. As such, this makes it very interesting as you explore the city. In regards to my current location, I live far west from the city in a sleepy suburbia nestled between hills and bushland. Life is slow and quiet around me, as such it gives me peace to make art.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: Yes I do keep a sketchbook. It is a rather flimsy, handmade book made up of hundreds of different scrap pieces of paper, tissues, newspapers etc pasted together. I find that ideas can strike at any time, so during that moment I will take whatever I can to draw on: ripped newspapers, scrap paper and tissue etc. In order to create my art it is important to utilize both digital and hand made craft. My work sits in between both mediums, one is just as important as the other: crafting shows heart, the digital helps create feeling. I like to believe digital tools are quite similar to traditional tools. They both need practice to master over time, there are no shortcuts and using digital tools does not necessarily mean you can get things done faster.



Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A:  pencil. Work probably would not be able to start without one! 

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: With commercial briefs it is more conclusive. Art is usually passed back and forth from you and the art director as it progresses. Eventually they will give the thumbs up when they decide the work is finished. 

In regards to personal work it is much more ambiguous. Sometimes work will never be complete and should left alone—it happens. For those pieces that are finished I will evaluate under a few criteria: is it true to the brief and concept? Is the work aesthetically true to you, and is it rich in texture, detail and atmosphere? And finally—are you happy with it?



Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: A few months ago I would have said the area I reside in has the most influence on my practice. As I live far from the city in a rather isolated hilly terrain my rather slow and quiet lifestyle had influenced the aesthetic and atmosphere of my pieces. While this is still relevant, my recent diagnoses of a lifelong autoimmune illness now exerts the most influence on my work practice. You come to realize things you’ve taken for granted—such as the ability to see and to move. As such my work practice now has been adjusted for the sake of my health. I now coordinate my tasks and time much better over the course of the day, and I have more down time (in the past I hardly took breaks).

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: The Mystery of the Blue Arrow by Chuck and David McKee. This is a classic favorite of mine—David McKee’s illustrations evoke a sense of exploration and never ceases to excite me!

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists—ah learning! 

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: This is rather difficult as I use a range of mediums to achieve the aesthetic in my work. I might go for an electronic medium such as Processing, which is a programming platform that allows me to code interactive pieces.

Q: If you could spend an entire day away from work and deadlines, what would you do and where?

A: Go hiking. I would love to explore and camp Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia!

Q: What was the painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your  approach to art? 

A: Australian artist Thomas Spence’s The Roof of Oxford Street (Taylor Square) introduced me to the beauty of the night. I always felt he was the kind of artist that would draw self-portraits by the moonlight and I believe he found delight in the nocturnal. I came to eventually appreciate it as I explored the nighttime in my work. It is romanticized in my practice as it stems an affinity I have when I relate to it. I hope I can share this with others.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Death by chocolate—enough said!
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