Some of you may have seen a sneak peek of a filming project that I was working on back in February on Instagram. Well, I'm happy to finally share the first of a multi-episode series that Creativebug has recently released! Their CBTV channel just launched the first episode, called "Creative Origins with Yao Cheng", and will be releasing additional episodes in the coming months. In these episodes, I will take you inside our design studio in Columbus, Ohio and talk more in depth about where my creativity first began, as well as how I have grown into the business that I run today! It's definitely a very insightful resource (and free for everyone to watch!) and my hope is that it will inspire you to get those creative juices flowing!
I remember pouring over artist/designer interviews. Design Matters with Debbie Millman is a great podcast that I listened to when I first decided that I was going to make the transition from a full-time, corporate design job to starting my own business. At the time, I needed to know that there were other people out there who have done something similar and succeeded! After all, we all need encouragement from time to time when we are about to do something unknown and scary, and that was definitely how I felt. I knew 100% that I wanted to start my own business, but I wasn't so sure how to get to where I envisioned my business to be.
When Creativebug approached me about doing this mini-documentary series, I knew right away that I wanted to do this in hopes of inspiring other creatives who might have the same curiosity as me when starting out. After hearing from so many people who loved taking the online classes, it seemed like there was a real curiosity about how I "found" my painting style and an interest to know more about the background of how I began...Honestly, I really wanted to take the opportunity to talk about these things in more depth too! Art is something I am very passionate about, but building a business around art is something I have had to learn along the way and feel there is a lot to it that people may not necessarily know. The classes that I teach online are great for techniques and tips, but there was just never enough time to fit in these in-depth conversations that I also really wanted to have.
The first episode is about how I first learned watercolor and how my education abroad in learning traditional Chinese floral painting/calligraphy has really influenced my work. It is pretty funny how much of an influence it has become in my work now, mostly in how I think about using my brush strokes and how to capture "life" in natural subjects. At the time, I really did not know what I was doing there, especially since the discipline in art and creativity in China was vastly different from my education in the US. I felt very rebellious then and very constrained by the meticulous training in ink work and master copies. My thinking was, "how am I supposed to be thinking outside of the box when all I do is copy paintings that I cannot relate to?". Looking back, I am really grateful to have had that intense training. It laid a great foundation for how I approach floral painting now because I have an understanding of flower anatomies and how to capture them in a way that brought life and energy into the work. There is a strong emphasis on how to convey emotions in brush strokes, which was something I took for granted before. I started to understand that I could use my brush strokes as my visual vocabulary.
I also talk a little bit about those in my life who really believed in what I loved to do from the very beginning and how vital having a support system was for me throughout my life. There were many a times when I knew I wanted to go to RISD for an art degree but family members didn't take me seriously or couldn't understand why I would want to spend my college degree on something such as art. A lot of that comes from a lack of knowledge in what art is and what art can be in our daily lives, and I do not fault them for it. But I knew I wanted to prove them wrong, because I knew that art is so much more than what we might think. It is not just a pretty painting on a wall or in a gallery. Art, when combined with design, can enrich our lives in so many amazing ways!
You can check out the full episode on Creativebug's CBTV channel and I hope this will give you a little more insight into where and how I began as an artist. Stay tuned in the coming months for more episode releases and follow us on Instagram and Facebook for those announcements!
Until next time,