Promising enterprising young artist 16- year-Old Alan chin has been making waves in the realm of abstract paintings.
by Kris Takahashi
TDink caught up with him to discuss art, life, and the legitimacy of The Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi. Chin was recently commissioned as an artist for the Hearts of San Francisco project as the youngest artist(http://www.heartsinsf.com/bio_chin.html). A man of all trades, Alan is also a clothing designer, entrepreneur and aspiring bonsai master.
What made you want to do art?
When I first started my series in junior high. As far as art itself, I always wanted to do it for like my whole life. My parents are prominent designers in the design world. They exposed me to thousands of pieces ever since I was young. This allowed me to develop ideas and concepts for future pieces.
Did your parents teach you?
I developed my own style. It's abstract with shades of urban and everyday life. I use my paintings as an outlet to show others how I see the world.
Is that where you get the inspiration for your art? Everyday life?
Going out into nature, being in the city. I try to get the whole world into it. I try to put all these, like, everything that surrounds me.
I take it you're still in school. Do you go to art school or public school?
I go to high school in the San Francisco area. I would love to go to art school after I graduate next year. I'm in student council too.
Do people generally support you? Is there any envy or jealousy?
Everyone supports me.
Have you gotten a taste of fame yet? I bet the whole artist thing helps with the chicks.
Not really because I have a girlfriend. People come up to me on the streets sometimes. It's like whatever.
Success can go to your head. What do you do to keep yourself grounded? Or are you more of the "look at me I'm an artist" type?
I do the art for myself. It's a form of therapy. I'm not doing it to make money, but for the love of creating things.
By your last name I'm assuming you're Chinese. Does your Asian heritage influence you?
Of course my Asian heritage influences me. I have taken Chinese calligraphy classes in the past and I'm training to be a bonsai master. This helps me see Asian beauty. People would always say as an Asian person, "There's so many Asian artists out there, I don't know how you're going to make it." Also the culture, everyone thinks of you as a starving artist. But I feel I have a lot of things going for me.
Bonsai trees. I have a problem just keeping them alive. I understand you trim them?
I take lessons from a sensei, and I have more sensei's across California. I consider myself diverse across a lot of cultures.
Do you sell them through stores? Can I go to a local shop and see an Alan Chin bonsai trees?
I don't sell them, I keep them for myself. They help me get by, stay away from drugs. It's part of me and my soul, a part of my life.
Do you believe in Feng Shui?
To a certain extent, but I'm Christian. I believe certain things should be placed in certain ways, but I'm not into the whole Feng Shui stuff.
We know the martial arts in the Karate Kid are bogus, but how accurate is Mr. Miyagi's bonsai tree cutting?
Not accurate at all. That's a certain type of cutting style. It's like cutting bushes.
Is it important for the average Joe who sees you're work to understand that?
It makes a big difference if the audience knows something about art. Then you can see in your own perspective the intricacies of it.
What other art do you do besides painting? Do you have a favorite form of art?
I do sculptures, printing, and various other mediums. But in the end it's all based on my paintings.
How do you get your work out there?
I have a publicist and a manager who help me get into areas and expand. My publicist is a family member.
Is there anywhere where we can see your current work?
I'm trying to get in MOMA(Museum of Modern Art) in San Francisco Los Angeles, and New York, as well as the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
The "Hearts of San Francisco" that you did for union square, was that your first major work, or have you done things in the past?
It was my first major commission. I actually got that through another artist Stan Dann. He's famous locally in the bay area.
Tell me more about the "Hearts of San Francisco":
130 artists were commissioned to produce a heart to be displayed in prominent areas of San Francisco. The heart was chosen because of San Francisco's reputation for being warm, nurturing and tolerant of everyone. Each heart reflects the artists' unique character and persona. The goal of the project is to raise money for San Francisco's General Hospital when the hearts are auctioned off.
You also do hats. Is fashion designing something you actively pursue?
I have a custom line, Vintage Alan Chin. I also do jeans and various denim.
You're sort of like Eminem. He's a rapper and a clothing mogul.
No, nothing like that. It's basically something on the side.
So we won't be seeing Vintage Alan Chin platinum chains in the future.
No. It's more of a vintage, rugged look.
Any hobbies besides art?
I like to golf. Just started this year, but I'm trying to heavily get into golf. That and tennis.
Would you rather be as big as Tiger Woods are a recognizable starving artist?
Starving artist. I think that way I'd at least be happy.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I want to go to CPA, a prominent art school, then graduate school at Yale, then Cooper Union in New York, and finally the Royal Academy in London. Hopefully if I get into MOMA someone will by my collection and I can make around a million a year.
Well good luck to you. Look forward to seeing your stuff in a museum, or clothing store, near you. Even if you don't have the platinum chains.