Greetings Bizzie Bees! Artist interviews are back and kicking off the year of the Rooster is Keon Lee. Have a read and be inspired!
Tell us a little about yourself.
A Korean who grew up in Hong Kong with a British Education and an American accent now married to an Australian and have two amazing children. I'm a theatre director, writer, general manager of Faust International Youth Theatre and I like to draw a lot.
How did you start making art/start your creative journey?
Indiana Jones. Our class had to present "explorers" and the opening act was an Indiana Jones skit. I had an Indiana Jones hat and leant it to the classmate who played the hero. I was seething with jealousy. I was also incredibly shy and it was in Year 7 that I met teachers who really inspired me in the arts and humanities. Mrs. Lacey-Vittachi, Mr. Harris, Ms. Lapish, Mr. Tucker, Mrs Sachet-Waller... they're all amazing.
Why do you make art?
At school it was mostly to show off. My friends liked my doodles and I would illustrate posters. Then it was about acknowledging others and showing how much I cared about them. I still draw personalized picture books for my friends about their children. For my writing and theatre work, it was about sharing stories and expressing ideas that I think are important. I have the privilege to work in children's theatre and help tell stories with them about the importance of friendship, listening, being present to another, overcoming fear and being bold.
What is your workspace like?
Immaculate to garbage dump in waves.
What is your favourite art form?
Theatre. Because it's a combination of all different art forms. I get to collaborate with so many other talented artists who make the work better.
What inspires you and how do you keep your creative spark?
My children. The news. Other artists' work. The more you experience the world, the more creative connections and ideas come up.
Was there an artist you admired when you were young that inspired you to be an artist yourself?
Can I name 3? Roald Dahl. Joss Whedon. Neil Gaiman.
What role does the artist have in society?
Absorb fears, concerns, anger, ideas, dreams of people and tell stories that help us understand each other.
What are you working on right now?
Pinocchio as writer/director with a group of talented young kids, King Lear as director with a bold teenage cast and a weekly webcomic about my daughter and the hilarious things she does and says.
What's your favourite place to see art?
In bed before I go to sleep in comfort. Or else in an amazing old theatre where I feel like I have to dress up like James Bond.
What's the last show you saw?
Romeo and Juliet Untold by the Globe Theatre. Excellent one woman show that retells Romeo and Juliet from the party planner's perspective. Pitched perfectly to older primary school children. My teenage class were also surprised by how powerfully the actress (Sally Lofthouse) held the stage on her own.
What is your favourite museum?
National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
What's your favourite art work?
That's an impossible question because it changes all the time with new influences - so many things that gave the right spark at the right time. However if I have to choose one, it's Matilda by Roald Dahl. It was my favourite book as a child. I'm reading that to my daughter for bedtime.
What are you reading right now?
Other than Matilda... I Know I am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee. I love reading about the biographies of comedians.
What do you collect?
HA! Comicbooks. Lots and lots of comicbooks. Also DVDs for a long stretch.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Drama Teacher, English Tutor and General Manager at various points in my life. I also worked in my uncle's Christian Bookstore / Stationery store for one long summer.
Why breathe? Why empathy? Why think?
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Be kind and be bold.
What advice do you have?
Be kind and be bold.
What is your dream project if there were no restrictions on time or money? What would you create?
A comicbook chronicling my wife's family history and my family history. Like Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Where can we see more of your work?
The youth theatre I work for— faust
The comic I draw about my daughter— Life with Olive