We had the good fortune of connecting with Xinjie Yin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Xinjie, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
My family, my friends, my love, my work, my dog, they all make me happy. They give me strength, support, and encourage me all the time. They are like shield, protecting me against all the negativity in this complicated and tough world. For me, happiness is simple, it’s like going home after a busy and tiring day, and my dog is waiting for me at the doorway, excited and sincere. Like receiving appreciations from my students after I spent days struggling to prepare art lessons or paintings. Like when I was criticized by artists who has totally different opinions on art and became upset, my love, who never approved of snacks, would bring me strawberry cakes, a cup of Boba milk tea, and set my favorite song on air. Like this year, while I stayed in the U.S., my friends in my hometown always express their concerns for me. Like even if we could not have a regular Christmas party as usual because of the pandemic, I got to enjoy the Drive-Thru Christmas Light Show together with my family. What makes me happy is always the thing that we can easily find in our life; it’s love and contentment.
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.
Well, I usually borrow the language of design and bring it into the world of fine art to help make my works filled with feelings and tensions. I believe there’re three words I could choose to describe my works: precise, fine, and delicate. I enjoy the process of shaping every figure carefully through handy work instead of using computer software. I like to paint cute animal characters and fantasy lands. Life is not always the way we want it to be. The world is not a fairyland, but the ones in my paintings are. By bringing people happiness with my art and my cute fantasy, that’s what I’m most excited about and proud of. I believe cuteness is a kind of power that can bring people back to their original simplicity no matter how old they are or what they are; and it is the idea of innocence. I’ve loved painting and drawing since I was a child. I grew up in Shanghai, China. I first began to take art lessons when I was five years old, then in high school I attended the art sessions to prepare Academic Grading Art Test in China, it’s kind of like the College Entrance Examination in art. This competitive and strict test has challenged me a lot on the skills of drawing, painting, sketching in all kinds of traditional art. And as a result, it helps me become a better artist with professional skills. I started my undergraduate education in Shanghai Normal University before I got transferred to the University of La Verne, in Studio Art major. To seek more opportunities in art career and to improve myself, I went to grad school for MFA in Claremont Graduate University. I took many lessons and gained a lot in Claremont, like finding myself, realizing what I am really interested in on art, developing my own artistic style, as well as meeting lots of peer artists. Receiving critics that “cuteness is not strong and too feminine, even meaningless in the world of fine art” is the greatest challenge that I have ever confronted. What I learnt along the way is that you have to be confident, to firmly believe in and stick to what you truly love, to keep going regardless of all the judgement, to struggle, to practice, to prove, to be a better person with strong will and fight them back if you received any negative or harsh words. My works is a representation of myself. I’m an independent, playful, global Chinese young female artist. All my lifestyle, preferences, and aesthetics come from Asian culture. I want my works to not only reflect where I came from but also to show the worldview of the same Chinese young female artists of my generation. I want to create a world through my colorful works to bring positive energy that can help people feel happy and relaxed upon the first glance they set on my works. I will feel happy and confident as an artist, and meanwhile, let others know that cuteness can be a shield to give people strength to lead positive and optimistic life.
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.
That sounds exciting! In fact, I have already planned such a trip for a long time! A week-long trip works well for anyone visiting Los Angeles areas. On the first day, I would definitely bring them to visit those must-go attractions of LA, like Hollywood, Walk of Fame, and Griffith Observatory to check out the night scene. On the next day, they must come to enjoy the California sunshine. The beach I highly recommend is the San Clemente Beach, with less crowded people there, compared to Santa Monica. And I really like the leisure atmosphere there. People there are all in an easy and casual mode. Also, they should check out the surrounding areas with those exotic architectures and the railway trails, which kind of look like the Kamakura in Japan. The third day will be a day of adventure, Universal Studio. I think I do have a lot to say about Universal Studio, maybe too much, but since there’s not that much space, I’ll just say that everyone knows how fun it is going to be for tons of rides. The following two days I’m hoping I could bring them to visit Santa Barbara and the Solvang. Solvang is one of my favorite places for it fulfills all my imagination for Fairyland and I’m sure they will like it too. If we still got time, the Broad Museum is another fun place to check out. I’m a big fan of pop art; it will be great spending a day with Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and so on. Alright, I think that’s enough for everyone to know all about LA except one last thing: food! LA is a place where you can taste delicious food from all over the world, they should definitely try IN-N-OUT (American), Boiling Crabs (Creole), Szechwan Hot pot (China), Daikokuya (Japanese), Korean barbeque and so on. And I can’t tell which one is the best cause they all taste great. I really love LA for its multi-cultural society and I do want my best friends to experience it with me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Yes, right! There’s someone I really want to express my gratitude to. He is the best mentor I’ve ever met in my life. His name is Carmine Iannaccone, professor in Claremont Graduate University, Art Department. He is also a member of the committees of my Graduation art show. If I have to describe what would a scholar look like, then my answer is like Carmine! It has to be him! He’s like a scholar in most of our imaginations: wearing oversized glasses, amiable smile and beard. Just kidding! He isn’t just a scholar; he is also most definitely a gentle man with scholarly knowledge and a teacher who always respects and nourishes every student. When I went to study in CGU, we have this studio visit with art professors. I always enjoyed talking with Carmine. Being an international student at that time, I never felt lonely or isolated in any conversation with him. Every time I was running out of ideas in my art creation, he could always inspire me in a way. When I got confused on any art theories or art histories, he could always give me perfect suggestions. It’s like reading a specific book or article that could help resolve all my confusions, while lead me to think more widely and deeply. Well, I am not saying that he only gave me positive feedback. He is the kind that could find a way to lead you to solve the problems by yourself. For me, he is the one who could offer spiritual help, encouragement, and understanding. And the most important is, he is the one who taught me how to resist those who gives me harsh words and negative feedback, and how to become a stronger person.