We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrian Kay Wong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adrian Kay, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
To reframe the question, I think the more pressing issue is, “How much does it mean to you?” Do you find your work fulfilling? Do you find the process, the ups and downs, the successes, the failures, the sacrifice, the journey something you can’t live without? Of course, there’s the more pragmatic black-and-white issues like finances or health, but there’s less gray area in these cases. Nonetheless, if you love it enough, you should keep going whole-heartedly. This should be the main deciding factor in whether to persist or not. How much are you willing to give? Another consideration: what is making you want to give up? If the answer to that is anything related to an “outcome” or “result” — that is, a desired reward or compensation you expected to get, a particular level of personal performance, winning a contest you applied for, etc. — then you have the wrong mentality. You’re setting yourself up for failure if your source of drive is getting something — tangible or not. That’s not to say less than desirable results aren’t disappointing, stressful, or discouraging. But these are all hurdles for us to learn to overcome. It’s an opportunity to refocus, realign, and gain perspective. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In the day-to-day, there usually isn’t much of a specific focus as to what I’d like to paint. Paintings begin more organically from just imagery I’m drawn to. Given, I’ve been making work for long enough where I enjoy working in a certain visual identity. I took it very seriously to challenge my preconceived notions of anything related to my work. This ranged from the smaller details of what size the work should be, what colors to use, and what materials I was using to bigger questions of how impactful the imagery was, how successful was I in conveying my intentions, and even if my paintings were any good. While I don’t think getting the right answer to any of those questions was really important, in hindsight, the significance laid in the process of considering different approaches and building a practice of persistence and desire to grow. What comes first is the work, in my case, the paintings, and above all else I believe my desire to look for improvement in all aspects of my creative practice, while sometimes overwhelming, benefits the growth of my work.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Los Angeles is not so much a city but a conglomeration of neighborhoods sitting right next to one another. They each have their distinct personalities and in a place with many types of different people of different cultures there is a celebration of that uniqueness. Living on the east side of the city, I personally spend a lot of time in the Arts District, Chinatown, and Little Tokyo. Driving farther East is the San Gabriel Valley with all the best Chinese food. I’d probably head to Koreatown at some point for some late night food and bars. I can’t even point to specific places because there’s too many good ones to name. It goes without saying that there’d be galleries I’d love to visit with them during their stay. Stopping at coffee shops is essential just for the opportunity to sit and talk. And if there’s anything most outstanding in LA than anywhere else is the taco trucks — Carnitas El Momo, Maliscos Jalisco, Carnitas Michoacan — again, there’s so many good ones.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shout out Uprise Art! I began working with them around 2014 or 15 at a very formative time in my career. I had just moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and was still in a “figuring-out” phase — really still building my creative identity and practice. Working with them back then definitely gave myself not only a feeling of confirmation that the paintings I was making had potential, but also a realization that my work can be seen by people beyond my immediate comprehension. I still work with them today and it’s been a continuing pleasure!