We had the good fortune of connecting with Marshall Wang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marshall, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I believe there’s a way things are and there’s a way l am. We’re the creations of our time. When l was a kid l found myself enjoy decorating things around me, not just clothes, also my room, toys, stationery, comic books, wallpapers, everything l can reach hands on. l would put effort into turning all the mundane kinds of stuff a kid has into something special, one of a kind. I did it subconsciously, with the hope that through manipulating, constructing, and building in my own sense, l could make my inner demon satisfied. During that time l starting to realize we all have our own resolution to life — for me, making is the answer to everything.
April Greiman once said, “ It takes a certain amount of fearlessness to stay perpetually ahead of the curve.” Yes, commitment, courage, and talent are needed to be part of the industry. My journey as a creative individual started after l went to CalArts, where l soaked myself into the artistic environment, allows me to explore my lineage, identity and inner-self — getting closer to the key answer of who I really am and where my creative minds land on. After four years of practices as a graphic designer, I was trained to always think critically and never let the guard down just staying in my comfort zone. By pushing myself hard l grasped a deeper understanding of the reasons for all my artistic motives and preferences. My obsession with creating forms and communicate feelings and thoughts through image making has grown stronger. l found myself had more to bring on the table —A lot of unspoken stories yet to be told, and a lot of matters waiting to be advocated. Many of the times it’s not just the material or physical object itself that interests me, but the meaning, consciousness, and aesthetic that were built around them, that has embedded them with life, making them present vividly. A rock is not just a rock, but can be turned into jewelry, be craved with letters and used as an instrument. Creativity means giving objectives to all the seemingly mundane goods around us like my childhood toys, and offering them a second life — a chance for others to view it differently. It’s about getting my artistic expressions out to the world with a hope of turning it into a more lovely space for all livings. I believe that’s one of the most important resolutions to decipher ourselves and the intricacy of human cultures. The mystic parts of life where science, language, and statistics do not shed light on, art revolves around them.
For me artistic journey is less about being but more towards what we’re becoming, it opens up my mind, challenges my limit, allows me to see, to feel and to empathize with my surroundings. Through the lens of a maker, my worldview has shaped and my spiritual life has been enriched.
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 consider myself a graphic artist. I studied graphic design and digital art back in CalArts and now I’m working as a freelance media artist in LA.
My journey has always been different than many of my peers. I was never into fine-tuning my work rounds after rounds. All the tiny, incidental details just drained me. Graphic Design is contextual, but I’m always more into the fun part, the spiritual side of it where expression and freedom come first. Hierarchy, discipline, and consistency, the quality that most good graphic designers need to acquire, I was never happy with them. My mind has been back and forth, up and down during the time in CalArts where I found myself constantly struggling with school projects and was never really satisfied with anything that I accomplished. I remember in many of the late studio nights I just sit on my desk, staring at a blank canvas waiting for the imposter syndrome to kick in. There’re times l doubt myself, thinking I’m not good enough to be here because I’m not as talented as the others. The figuring-out-who-you-are process is long and still going for me, but l think I finally landed on a place where I made peace with myself.
We’re all geniuses in our own sense, and as creative individuals, no matter which realm we worked in we don’t need other’s validation to prove that we got it. I struggled with my identity, my work, and my surrounding, but looking back I am who I am because of all the hardships, self-doubts, and wounds caused by critics and comments. They all make my creative soul more independent and unique. CalArts does not teach me just to tailoring my work to fit the world or how I should align myself with the system, instead it offers us options, a chance of figuring out who we truly want to be. Under a climate where decolonize design and accept diversity is happening, I think it’s important for all artists to think about what they’re fighting for, what are they representing and who do they speak for. I named my studio Empacy(empathy) Machine because my goal is to express feelings through making, not just to myself but to my community. I hope my work could stay intelligent, consciousness and polished no matter which creative paths l choose 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?
Sawtelle has been my favorite area to get food around LA. It’s a small alley packed with authentic Japanese restaurants. You can just walk into a random one and it won’t let you down. I enjoy hanging out with my friends there during nighttime and grab a boba while walking down the street. Sunlight Tea Studio is definitely one of the best places to get bubble tea. Other than that there’re so many places l like scattered in the city. One interesting place I’d check is the rose bowl flea market happening once a month in Pasadena. Melrose trading spot is another great one and it opens on Sunday. LA is like little islands connected by highways, and each island can be completely different from one another.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shoutout to CalArts Graphic Design and my dearest faculty group for letting all happen! The community has been special and so supportive, and i could not express how lucky im to be parts of it.
Linkedin: marshall wang