Interview: Yishi Deng
Luca Curci talks with Yishi Deng during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Yishi Deng is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York, born in Guangzhou (China), to a family of a judge father, an investor mother, and a scientist brother. She received her BFA in fashion design from the Academy of Art University and an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She specializes in illustration, fashion styling, and VR interactive design. Yishi has been honing her illustration skill since she was old enough to paint with her mother’s favourite lipstick. Starting out as a fashion stylist, Yishi has worked with renowned photographers and top-notch magazines in Asia, including MilkX HongKong, and Harper’s Bazaar China. Leveraging her curiosity, she constantly explores the possibilities of mediums and narrative forms that would reach broad audiences. Mixed reality, including virtual reality and augmented reality, is one of her shining talents. “Adulting”, a VR interactive experience Yishi created in 2019 to ease her parents’ concern for her immature daughters, has successfully touched audiences age range from 8 to 73. “Adulting” has been invited to showcase at NYC Media Lab and featured by Reality Center. She continues to grow as an illustrator and keeps painting to cope with the uncertainty even during the pandemic. Her love for bright colours and animals has brightened thousands of heavy hearts on social media.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Yishi Deng – I have spent seven years studying and working in fashion, which has allowed me to know and understand the texture of surfaces and materials that put together color and shapes, which have been the biggest influence in my work. After three years of working on styling projects from time to time, I have gotten into the habit of observing what makes the optimal combination of color, shape, and texture that is pleasing to the eye. I also spend a good portion of my time studying color. I carefully choose colors that appear soothing to brighten the viewer’s mood.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
YD – I started doodling on my brother’s toy and my dad’s passport when I was young. That was my favorite way to communicate with myself and be my own best friend when my parents were both busy doing their best to make our lives better. After getting my MFA degree in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design in 2019, I was conflicted about which path to take to further my creative career. Most of my peers have chosen their path as UX/UI designers or visual designers. I realized I have heavily invested my time in learning about how to create VR experiences. When the pandemic hit shortly after my graduation, I was tramped in dark thoughts and confusion. I ultimately decided to stay away from social media for the sake of my mental health. I started painting using Procreate and Photoshop as a digital medium to combine with traditional art mediums such as acrylic, gouache, and watercolor. Painting has become my true passion ever since. I am still learning new things up to this day by taking classes on Domestika and Class101.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
YD – I found my inspiration from observing people and listening to stories.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
YD – Being an artist nowadays is as competitive as always. Thanks to social media, it’s easier to learn new things and get exposure, but at the same time, I found myself being the absolute worst critic of my own work. Seeing countless talented people online with outstanding skills and incredible creative endeavours, I can’t help getting discouraged and doubting whether I will ever be that good. All I can do is keep learning and never give up.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
YD – My style did change a little bit since I evolved as an artist and learned new skills along the way. I have also learned to loosen up and no longer grip my brush too hard. I now have a softer and less rigid style.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
YD – Thank you! No, It has not been presented in any other exhibitions.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
YD – Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. The human body is a changing system that reacts to our surroundings even if we don’t intend to react a certain way. I am fascinated by learning about body language while learning about the stories and messages that this robust communication system is trying to express.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
YD – Yes, absolutely.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
YD – I think it is a great platform for artists to showcase their work globally.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
YD – ITSLIQUID GROUP is a group of inspiring experts that motivates artists to be creative and thoughtful.