We had the good fortune of connecting with Jiahn Chung and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jiahn, what inspires you?
Storytelling, animated films, and concept art have always been my biggest escape from the stressful situations in my life as my own reality would often be too overwhelming to take in. Art has always helped me through difficult times. Through my own creations, I wish to evoke in others the emotions that I have experienced, and reach others the way that art has impacted my life. Creating an entire universe with tangible characters and a compelling narrative for the sole purpose of breaking away from our own world has always fascinated me. I think something that sets me apart as well as it being the biggest challenge throughout my life is that I’m severely allergic to the sun/UV light and extreme heat. It’s something that I’ve had to learn through harsh trial and error and many trips to the hospitals as doctors didn’t know exactly what was going on nor how to treat it specifically as sometimes it made it worse. This “disability” has had a huge impact in my daily life as well as other activities and hobbies I love such as drum corps. For art, I couldn’t just walk out whenever I felt like it, whether it was too hot, or if I didn’t have my protective gear on me, or if I just didn’t feel like going because it was such a hassle to protect myself, etc. There are many other factors such as my visor distorting my vision or getting funny looks and stares as if I’m an exhibit at a zoo.
It really wasn’t easy. I don’t know how else to describe it but it put me through one of my darkest times. “How was I supposed to live like this for the rest of my life?” I would think to myself as I lay paralyzed in my bed suffering from third degree burns all over my body. I went through really dark times and doubted my career as an artist as I felt very limited both physically and mentally. But I believe that this was the starting point for one of my main influences.
After learning the ropes of what was going on somewhat and how to take care and protect myself, I would put my stories into use by treating it as an outlet. As I kept going on my own path, it began to open to other people’s lives. Hearing complicated and difficult narratives, fiction or not, always hits close to home and always has a soft spot in my heart. This personal experience of mine has inspired not just my own work, but sparking curiosity in-depth about complicated human emotions. As I have stated before, learning about unique lives leads to more complex yet realistic storytelling.
One of the many aspects about visual art that I find to be most alluring is its narrative storytelling which allows artists to showcase their individual interests and perspectives. I love learning about human behavior and am fascinated by our psychology. I enjoy reading books or watching documentaries about these kinds of topics in order to understand why we do the things we do. Nature is also a big inspiration of mine as I believe that it holds the key to many answers of many mysteries. I’m always eager to learn more about the world and really about anything.
With the experiences I will gain going down this path, I hope to be part of producing well-developed and engaging stories to an audience while also expressing my voice and interests about the world we live in.
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.
I am very inspired by human psychology because of my upbringing and the obstacles I have faced in life. I am most proud of the pieces that have had a profound impact on others, sometimes even moving them to tears. The end of 2020 was one of my darkest times due to personal reasons. Although it was one of the most difficult things to go through, I created some of my most powerful pieces, not just to myself, but to others around me despite not understanding the personal meanings behind it. I feel as though I have always wanted my art to gear towards this direction subconsciously and now I am finally able to successfully execute my work the way I want. After developing the skills to do so, it was the beginning of my drive to really pursue these stories.
Unfortunately, this came at an immense price. But I wouldn’t change my life. I’m grateful for all the hardships I went through in order to become the person I am today. I definitely could have turned out much differently, but instead I used my experiences to drive my art career and I am eager to see the stories develop in the future.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I grew up around LA but mostly in La Crescenta which has a special place in my heart. I love to take people where I grew up during my childhood to take in all of its charms. Since college, I’ve been having so much fun showing people around LA county and its hidden gems, especially when it comes to food. Who doesn’t like quality food with great prices? You need to be from around here to know all the ins and outs! My friends and I have been adventuring around Koreatown, La Crescenta, Leo Carrillo, and so on. The Americana, Descanso Gardens, and Old Town Montrose have been a few of my favorite spots that I typically bring people to. It’s a really great feeling to see my friends genuinely enjoy the time they spend there. Better yet, when they return back to the places on their own and introduce their other friends! I honestly didn’t think much of the places I went to considering that I’ve been going there since I was little, but seeing how fascinated my friends were I really started to become more appreciative of where I live and everything that I’ve been able to experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Though it may come across as a typical thing to say, my parents. My parents haven’t been the best parents for most of my life. Our relationship now is currently healing with some steps backwards every now and then of course, but as I met more caretakers throughout my life I realized that my parents truly have the heart of a parent. They really do love and care about me and are now completely supportive of me. They have faith that I’m doing everything for the good of my own health and for the benefit of our family. Knowing how they were in the past and witnessing first hand of how far they’ve come, I really believe that anyone is capable of change no matter how impossible it may seem.
They’ve taught me so many things directly and indirectly, as well as inspiring some of my projects from their own life stories.
I would also like to thank them for everything they did for me after immigrating to America. Knowing just the surface of what they’ve endured, I will never be able to thank them enough for me to come this far. It only fuels more motivation to become the person I want to be.
My family has a hard time showing affection and vulnerability to one another, but I hope that when they read this, it will offer some reassurance that I really do deeply care about them despite my lack of expression face to face.