Artist Feature: Chandra Oh
Meet Chandra Oh, an artist, designer, and full-time dog mom. She recently was at our ARTober Fest event here at The LAB with her collage art pieces. We got to sit her down and pick her brain about how she got started, her inspirations, and more! Scroll on to read more.
Q. Tell us about your work! How did it all start?
A. Working as a full-time designer, I found that I stopped reserving the time for creative, personal projects. I wanted to pick up a hobby that brought me back to that mental space of making work without feeling pressure of how the end product would turn out—to get into a practice that lets me enjoy the process more than anything else. I consider myself a generalist in that I love to dabble with all types of media and methods of creating projects. However, I found that digital collage and photo manipulation got me to that mental space I was looking for. Even better, I didn't get sick or bored of this way of making. This sort of surrealist angle on storytelling is something about collaging that I find especially intriguing. I was inspired by a project I did back in college, where we stitched together a cohesive story or experience using the large catalog available through the Library of Congress. I loved being able to take the context out of the original piece and create new meaning from the selected collection of items. When you bring different items together and take a closer look, you start to see commonalities or themes amongst the collection, and a new story unfold
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your sources of inspiration for your collages?
A. I am inspired by moments of solitude, introspection, nostalgia, romance, natural landscapes, history, culture, and time. But piece by piece, I feel like the story always has potential to evolve throughout the process depending on the images I'm working with and how they interact with one another.
Q. What’s the process like?
A. I'd consider myself somewhat of a freeform artist/designer in this practice. I have a general idea or emotion I want to express and evoke, but hop into the collaging step pretty early on. Working digitally is much more forgiving and definitely makes things easier, so I like to take advantage of that feature. Then, as I start to make, I build off the ideas that stick out to me and grow the story from there.
Q. What other forms of art are you drawn to?
A. Unfinished sketches, paintings, sculptures, installations, textile arts, graphic design, fashion, photography, and good ol' Mother Nature. Mostly...everything. Hope that doesn't count as cheating.
Q. What’s a personal favorite from your collection?
A. Ooh... from the newer works, I'd have to say Mother. and Waiting Eons in the Moonlight.
Mother. is a homage to the caretakers who build up and serve communities, generations, and societies. I wanted to portray grace, stillness, and courage altogether. I was inspired by all the stories my friends and I shared about the powerful mothers/mother figures in our lives, who continuously sacrifice without complaint to uplift everyone around them and radiate light in the places they dedicate themselves to.
Waiting Eons in the Moonlight. was inspired by the feelings that come from being alone and pensive, longing for something or someone... yet, not feeling ready or sure to act on it. As if everything continues to move on and change, while you are pausing in a moment in time.
Q. Tell us more about you! Can you give us a rundown of your artistic background?
A. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed drawing, coloring, sewing, and doing anything hands-on. I found that these hobbies were not only meditative, but also allowed me the chance to problem-solve creatively. Throughout most of my adolescence, I found the most comfort communicating via art, because it was the language that best expressed the things I wanted to say. It was my preferred way of communicating and interacting with the world.
However, during and immediately after attending an arts college, I didn't feel as though I lived up to the title of an "artist" or "designer." There was a sense of unfulfilled expectation I felt in claiming that identity and I constantly rejected the idea. It was only until I let go of this self-created pressure and boxed-in definition of what an artist or designer was that I started to see myself again in that light.
One major thing that also helped was getting into the frequent habit of making, despite the concept or execution not being perfect. Sometimes, the need for everything to be perfect can be paralyzing, and stops you from ever making that first step. But unfortunately, without starting or making those "mistakes" and drafts you're not crazy about, you never get better. So create in any way that you can, whether it be through writing, collaging, or any other quick way of making/producing something.
Today, I feel lucky and grateful to be working as the Design & Brand Manager at Annmarie Skin Care (ASC). I work closely with our COO, Rachel, to come up with concepts for all things visual at ASC and the creative team who brings these visions to life. I love that I get to work each day for a company I believe in, and a team that is as badass and beautiful as they come.
Q. What’s a day in the life of Chandra Oh?
A. 8am: I go on a brisk, morning walk with my dog, Lela. I like to leave my phone behind. It's a great way to get fresh air and simply be present with my pet and surroundings.
9am - 5pm: I love to start the day with a hot, homemade beverage (recently have been digging the combination of organic hazelnut coffee, vanilla nut milk, and a dash of cinnamon). Then, I step out into my workspace in the backyard to work on anything for that day/week for ASC—projects like packaging, to web design, to photography, etc.
5pm: After 5pm, I like to take my dog on a walk around the neighborhood.
6pm: Around 6pm, I've watched a few YouTube videos by this time and am getting ready to prep some dinner. I like to pan-fry some veggies, eggs, and serve over rice and bed of greens with a generous dose of coconut aminos.
7pm-9pm: Either being super lazy, watching some Ozark with my boyfriend, or resuming work, if needed. If I'm feeling like my ~*best self*~, probably throwing in a workout. But let's be real, haven't done that in a good few months... Whoops!
Q. Any current or future projects you can tell us about?
A. ASC-wise, we finally launched the first design for the Featured Artist Tote Bag Project. Regarding personal projects, mostly making more pieces for @ceveoh.la and working on building up a production and artist collective with @goingtowardsheartbreak.