Instagram: @chloevanv

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I grew up in Oceanside, California (San Diego County). I’ve been an artist since I was a kid. I was always making things, creating stuff. When I was about 14 I started painting. I had a bit of a troubled childhood for various reasons, and from a young age I started dealing with depression. So art was a way for me to process a lot of the grief I dealt with, before I really even knew what was going on. My work as a teenager was sort of, hilariously dark and weird. I’ve definitely developed out of that and my aesthetic now is a much more current reflection of how I feel about life as an adult. 

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

I’m still working that out. It’s like an ever changing vibe. I started working mainly digitally just this year, and my style has sort of become itself during that transition. I’m really entertained by bright, pastel colors. I feel like most of what I communicate through art has to do with color, and I’ve also been really into these intense cast shadows that make everything feel sort of intentionally dramatic. 

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

I don’t have one! I go through seasons where I’m focused on one form of expression, so music sometimes or editing little films. But mainly painting, poorly drawn comics with pen, Procreate on the iPad are what I’ve been favoring most. I’ve been grappling with gouache lately and I’d say it’s my favorite right now. 

4. What is your artistic process like?

It definitely depends. With digital work I usually either have an idea, and then gather reference photos for the subject position, and somewhere between that something happens and the idea sort of emerges. It all just flows into what it will become. I might have a color concept I want to work out, or when I’m driving and I see something that’s interesting I’ll have to take a picture or a video of it to like, pocket whatever feeling this random thing instilled in me. Then later, I’ll express that feeling into a visual image, and somehow to me it will feel like this unexplainable thing that I experienced earlier. 

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

I love colors, and I love movies. Lately, I’ve been really inspired by the desert and what it represents, and how I feel when I’m there. Sometimes I see a color scheme and I need to use it. Or a scene in a movie that I’m drawn to, and I want to evoke a similar feeling. I love the aesthetic of 80’s and 90’s anime, so that probably creeps into my style a bit. I’ve been getting back into graphic novels lately, and certain books I’ve read have definitely inspired my work lately. Plants are some of my favorite things to draw lately too, which is interesting because I think I would’ve been bored by them a few years ago. Mainly life, people. Interesting faces, and just being in tune with the world and myself gives me more than enough to work with. I only run into problems with inspirations when I’m out of touch with where I’m supposed to be. 

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

At the risk of sounding really cliche, I really couldn’t have a life without art. I’ve gone through periods of time when I wasn’t taking care of myself, and wasn’t creating anything and life has felt completely meaningless. When I’m not in touch with creating and I’m barely living through these long blocks, it’s the worst feeling ever. Since quarantine started I decided that now I have time to find that side of myself again and I’m not going to squander it. I manoeuvre through the world much easier when I am creating, but it takes work, it takes discipline. To be at my best I need to spend a lot of time alone, exploring different techniques, researching and also just working. I have to take myself seriously in a sense which is difficult when no one around me is doing anything similar, it can feel very isolating. But when I can travel somewhere new, or just be around my close friends I feel like I’m actually present and able to just sit there and enjoy the world properly. 

7. Where did you study?

I’m currently finishing my BA at Cal State Long Beach. 

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

These questions are always tough to answer because I want to do so many things, and I would be happy doing so many different things. A dream I’ve had for quite a while is to create my own animated show for Cartoon Network or Adult Swim. That’s sort of a secret project I’ve had in the works for a while now, and so, in 5 years I think that’s a possibility. I want to spend more time outside of the US. I’ve been lucky enough to do a good amount of traveling, and I really would love to do a residency somewhere on my list. I guess in the next 5 years I would like to have spent time living elsewhere, and jumped into an artistic career of some kind. 

9. What about in ten?

By the time I’m 34, I’ll want to be able to look back and be proud of taking risks. I think if I keep going forward creatively at the rate I have been in the last year, a lot of cool things will unfold, and so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I feel very open to all of the possibilities and I also feel confident that things are going to work out, whatever that means. I would like to be a creative director, whatever vague umbrella term that is. 

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I want to create content, but I also really want to be genuine, with myself, and with the world. Life is wild, hilarious, and sad, and weird. So I always hope those tones come through with my work. I was always searching for myself in the content I consumed growing up, and I think we all do that to some extent. I want to impact people, I mean I think that’s probably every artist’s goal in some way. I have these massive dreams that will require a lot of work, so sometimes that intimidates me. I’d like to somehow reach people who are deep in that hole of not feeling connected and not feeling human, maybe feel more human. 

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

I really love food, so this question is hard. Anything Asian is usually my go to, mainly Japanese food. But if I could just have a really nice loaf of bread and some good cheese, I’d be happy. 

12. Favourite book?

I just read The Alchemist this year and that is probably number one for me. But in terms of graphic novels, Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs is probably my favorite. I just read Passing for Human by Liana Finck, which was great. The Artist’s Way which is sort of a workbook that I went through this summer has been helping me immensely in getting more organized and recovering from being blocked creatively. I always recommend it to anyone creative.

13. Favourite genre of music? 

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of The Japanese House, Sales, Beach House, Arlo Parks. I also listen to a lot of random lofi beats, and other mellow electronic stuff. And then there’s Masego, Saba, Anderson.Paak, Dreamville, the list goes on, it all depends on the day, the mood. There are way too many artists that I can’t even answer this properly. 

14. What are your hobbies? 

I’ve been pretty into plants, yoga, I’m reading Dune right now. I’m a songwriter sort of secretly, I play ukulele, guitar, I dabble with piano and I sing (tentatively). I have this Soundcloud with almost an album’s worth of songs I’ve written on it, I just have it for myself. It’s the process for me that’s enjoyable, showing them to people isn’t really necessary for me, but maybe someday. I also really like watching cartoons. In general I tend to go through obsessive phases with a certain show or thing or person, like Hayao Miyazaki, Bladerunner, Wes Anderson, Bob’s Burgers, Jesse Jacob’s graphic novels, Donald Glover, Desert plants, Japanese architecture and garden layouts. For a while I was watching a lot of random guest lecturers like Virgil Abloh at Harvard or other huge universities. I like learning about things that I don’t know anything about, and like diving into it and sitting there for a while. 

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I guess if I wasn’t doing art I would’ve liked to pursue music more fully. So, a musician? But career-wise I’ve thought about becoming a psychologist. I’ve always had an interest in people and how they work. It’s the same thing that informs my art, it’s part of how I navigate the world.