Bizzie Bee's Artist Interview: Cherry Wong

It's finally feeling like AUTUMN Bizzie Bees! How have you been enjoying the great outdoors?

In this Bizzie Bee Artist Interview, we have Cherry sharing her story with us. We went to see an art show together at the Asia Society and then sat down for a chat.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My work focuses on people because I enjoy working with them a lot. I love travelling alone as it gives me the space to do spontaneous photo shoots. When I'm photographing, I don't want my social self to get in the way of my artwork so I need to be away from travelling companions.

How did you start making art/start your creative journey?

Even though photography is now my focus, since I was young, I drew and wrote. Art for me has always been about telling stories. My teachers encouraged me to go to fine art school but because my father was a photographer, my mother tried all her might to deter me from also being a photographer or an artist. Art became an on the side thing for me. When I was older, I got really sick and so I quit my 9-5 day job. Photography ended up growing out of stand-up comedy. Stand-up comedy was very therapeutic for me and it somehow freed a part of me that didn't care what people said. It was once again about storytelling, about things I observed and it's that same process in drawing or photography. You observe and see what is beautiful and you try and savour why it's interesting and then express it. I took a solo trip to Europe and at that point, I hadn't taken photographs in a long time. I thought I would just take my camera out to play with. I loved that set of photos because I didn't plan to show it to anybody and I felt so free. I decided to have fun with that process, to pursue photography and work with people with the same vision as me.

Why do you make art?

I have a lot of fun when I'm making it.

What is your workspace like?

It's wherever I take my camera! For processing I do it at home because it's very time consuming and I often spend hours on each photo in front of my computer.

What inspires you and how do you keep your creative spark?

Other photographers' work, especially those in the early 20th century. I'm especially inspired by old Hollywood portrait photographers.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I'm working on my fashion portfolio. For me, this work focuses on places because I like shooting in different big cities. It's about the model, the place and the kind of story I want to tell. It's more the created narrative and similar to writing a fiction story.

What's your favourite place to see art?

In fashion magazines, especially Vogue. I think most of the work is very artistic and it's not just fashion I see but the stories behind it. They share many of the same qualities I love as the old Hollywood photographers.

What's the last show that you saw?

I just went to see Painting Her Way: The Ink Art of Fang Zhaoling at the Asia Society.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I've worked for a children's book publisher and in business development.

Name something you love, and tell us why.

Movement because that's what life is. Life is about movement and taking up spaces.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

I remember back in university someone said to me that I was a dreamer and it wasn't said as a complement. I talked to one of my close friends about this and he said dreams come true, dreams don't just happen so you first need to dream. What's the problem with being a dreamer? I go back to that whenever I think I'm never going to be successful or no one will like my work. There are always those negative thoughts but it's those who don't worry about that, the negative situations or scenarios that are the ones who create. That's the best advice I've been given.

What advice do you have?

Your voice is in you and it's important, find a way not to lose it. As we get older, our creative voice is slowly chipped away. Don't let that voice be taken from you. Something I wish someone had told me when I was younger is to not lose who I am. I would've started photography much earlier and not put it aside for so many years. I feel like all those years I could've been creating and making things for myself and others. Back then, I didn't know or realize my voice was important.

What is your dream project if there were no restrictions on time or money? What would you create?

I don't think for an artist there is one dream project but something I would like to work on right now is to explore urban life. I love the city—how people talk, how they interact. Thinking about Paris, London or Hong Kong, what is it that makes a specific cosmopolitan what it is? Like spices in a dish, what are the components that make cities unique? I'm using photography to explore all these things and I hope this project will turn out to be something that I want it to become because I'm shamelessly in love with cities and places full of flavour that attracts people. I'm hoping this year I'll be able to devote more time to this.

Anything else you'd like to share?

What I realized in the past few years is the importance of exploring more than one form of art. I don't mean if you're a watercolour painter to do oil painting but experiencing something totally different like writing poetry. If you write poetry, try drawing or singing. The brain is multi dimensional and when you stretch one part, it helps to stretch another part. So when we have artist's block, don't stop or force it but just go try something else. We can learn acceptance through the process of doing something we're not used to or good at and it makes us a little more free and able to breathe when going back to our own art. I think it's funny in itself that stand-up comedy is how I started doing photography. It's totally unrelated but it unearthed my desire to really pursue what I love. To be authentic is the best feeling.

See more of Cherry's work on Instagram and at Cherry Wong Photo.

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Bizzie Bee is a social enterprise initiative and primary funding partner of Lizzie Bee Foundation Ltd, a Hong Kong registered charity. Money raised from the sale of our products goes directly to arts projects for the underprivileged in our community.

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