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Artist Spotlight: A conversation with Elaine Tian

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We've been working with Elaine for years that she is more than just a (very talented!) artist -- she is a friend. Her artwork is refreshing and soothing and, just like us, very colorful. It was great to get the chance to sit down and learn more about Elaine's work and inspirations. And, we just had to talk a little bit about her Brooklyn life, which we are so glad to be a part of, and her home. 

You are originally from Australia, what was it like growing up there? What do you miss about Australia?
Yes, I grew up in Sydney, and desperately miss the weather and beaches. It is a really amazing city to grow up in.

How long have you been in New York, and what brought you here? What is your favorite thing about living in New York?
I've been here for nearly 20 years, which is just crazy to think about. There are so many things I love about this city. It's energy, creativity, and of course, my beloved Brooklyn.


Tell us about your painting process, the materials that you use, and what inspires your work?
My paintings are mostly abstract, and often inspired by the Australian landscape; mark-making and color are often the primary elements in my work. I generally work with oil, pastel, and graphite on wood and canvas, and inks if I'm drawing on paper. My process usually starts with making random splashes and drips with tea, then using those marks to inform new shapes, lines, and marks. My paintings have many translucent layers of paint and pastel to evoke depth.

How long have you been painting, and how has your work evolved? Where would you like to see it go next?
I got my degree in Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, so I've been either drawing or painting in some form, since then. Which was a million years ago!! My next step would be to somehow incorporate my painting and ceramics in some form. I have a bunch of ideas but they are hard to articulate in words. Hopefully I'll have something to share later this year.

Who are some of your favorite artists?
Cy Twombly, Australian artists John Olsen, and Fred Williams have the most direct influence on my work. Other artists whose work I love are Ann Hamilton, Kehinde Wiley, Sam Lock, amongst so many others. 

You also do a lot of work in ceramics for your brand Studio Joo. What is different about ceramics vs. painting, and how do you feel that they are related?
My brand Studio Joo is primarily tableware and lighting. They are quite different in that Studio Joo is mainly my wholesale business, and my paintings are my art. However, you can see how they are related through the use of mark-making... brush strokes and lines, etc.

Do you have a favorite piece that you've created?
Nothing specific, but there are certainly a few paintings that were harder to part with. I generally hold on to these works for several months before making them available for sale so that I can live with them for a bit.

What is your favorite room in your home and why? Any favorite objects with a special meaning?
My dining room brings me the most joy, because that is where friends gather to enjoy a meal. Home-cooked food, served on hand-made ceramics. Nothing better than experiencing this with loved ones. I have no favorite objects per se, but our home is filled with art, and we love them all.


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