We had the good fortune of connecting with Kiddo Pan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kiddo, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I came from Inner Mongolia, China. It’s a region known for grassland and livestock. The landscape there is absolutely beautiful and it feels like being back in time living there. My parents are Han Chinese and Mongol so I’ve always felt I grew up in an environment of two different cultures. I’m a person who enjoys being outdoors, playing sports, and getting close to nature. And I care about embracing diversity and inclusion a lot. I think these are influenced by my background.
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.
Most of the time I would say I’m an illustrator and animator. But my practice comes in more forms. In an independent project I worked on this year, I wrote a short story, produced an animated rap music video for it, and made two costumes for the story. So I was basically the rapper, music producer, director, animator, and tailor. It might sound challenging but this project wasn’t the first time I did any of those things. I was simply putting things I’m good at or interested in together. So my passion for multiple fields made it possible for me to achieve everything I envision and that’s what I’m proud of in my art creation.
Another thing I value is that telling the stories of the underrepresented is a big part of my art. It started when I made a pop-up book about folklore in my hometown. It was a simple story but people seemed very interested in the culture. I realized that people outside my hometown might not know much about things I’m used to. If not me then who’s gonna tell our story to the world? If I don’t highlight the underrepresented then how many more people will share their experiences? Then I started to learn about their stories and visualize them in my style.
It hasn’t been easy to be an artist work both traditionally and digitally. I have to know a little bit of everything and a little bit is not enough sometimes. I always feel like there are so many things I can create and so many things to learn at the same time. And it’s okay to ask for help, especially when working on a project with too many things to think about. I might struggle for days while others might provide a fresh opinion that solves the problem in seconds. Growing through communication is just as important as growing through hard work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friend is here in Baltimore the first stop is for sure the graffiti alley! It’s a place that allows people to make graffiti without worrying about being arrested. I’ve sprayed all of my graffiti there and I felt it’s the best way to relieve stress. I will show my friend the alley and invite them to spray something. And I’ll show them the city streets on foot, simply because there are so many amazing murals and I’ve helped with one of them. If they are here recently I might take them to Wyman Park for some outdoor live music. I also want to invite them to the American Visionary Art Museum and try some local Crab cakes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes, I love the idea of a shoutout! But I want to give many people a shoutout. Firstly my mom. I decided to study art towards the end of my senior year. I was an engineering student about to graduate at that time and she thought I was crazy. Though it took me some time to convince her I was going to be an artist, she loved the art I made and supported me 100% in the process. It’s nice to know that my mom can actually listen to me and change her perspectives. Then I want to give a shoutout to all those people who like and support my art. People who liked my work on social media, people who bought my merch, people who showed interest in my street arts, and of course friends and families… They are the ones who kept me going and giving me purpose. I make art for the people and they are the people.