deanne Cheuk - Katya Tylevich


deanne Cheuk - Katya Tylevich
Studio Visits
Deanne Cheuk
— What do you see evolving from these increasing overlaps? I think the main evolution is the
acceptance of designers as artists. Especially
as an illustrator, it seems natural to want to
take that work further.
After six pm, Deanne Cheuk works on unpaid projects ‘to no brief, for no money,
just to create’, she tells me. Her ‘day job’, on the other hand, is reserved for commercial work as varied as illustrative typography, art direction and illustration,
with her list of clients ranging from The New York Times Magazine, to Tokion
Magazine and Conan O’Brien. I catch her when she’s in the middle of ‘a bunch
of commercial projects, catalogues and type treatments’. As further evidence
of the breadth of her practice, Cheuk self-publishes a ’zine called Neomu. She
sold-out her first book Mushroom Girls Virus and has a line of products sold at
Target. A native of Perth, Western Australia, Cheuk came to New York City – a
city she ‘idolized’ – in 2000, and now keeps a home and studio on the Lower
East Side, where her favourite place to work is ‘near a sink’.
— How did you begin as an artist and designer?
I studied graphic design at university in Perth,
and began working in the field before I graduated. I taught myself to be an illustrator and
that led to showing my art. I’ve been fortunate
so far to have been invited to show my art
when I have.
— I’ve read that you create ‘commercial’ work
by day and ‘art’ by night — do you clearly differentiate between the two, in your own personal experience? Yes, there is a clear definition. Even if I am working on an artist edition
product or designer collaboration, that is still
commercial work for money. After six, I work
on unpaid projects to no brief, for no money,
just to create.
— How did you end up in New York City? I came
to visit for a long weekend in February 2000. I
fell in love with the city, moved here four months
later, and never left. I idolized New York. I
wanted to be here, but it felt unobtainable,
especially for someone from Perth. But after
coming here in 2000 and feeling so welcome
and comfortable, I knew it was meant to be.
— Is it harder to work on those personal projects after six pm, when compared to commercial work? Do you ever feel burned out from the
‘day job’? For me, personal projects are definitely harder. As a designer you get used to being directed and working to briefs. When that
becomes wide open, the possibilities feel endless. But each day is different. It depends on
what I’m working on; if it’s something I am really into then I can enjoy it and can carry that
creative energy through the night. Otherwise,
if it’s not something I’m really into, then by the
end of the day I feel drained and am less enthused to devote the time to my personal projects. Mostly it is good, though.
— What was your idea of an artist before you
became one? I think my idea of an artist remains the same, whether or not it is true. For
me, it’s about an all-encompassing passion for
what you do, a passion to create for the sake
of creation.
— Do you make a clear distinction between ‘designer’ and ‘artist’? No, because there are plenty of designers who are also exhibiting work as
artists and who are doing both very well: Mario
Hugo, Chris Rubino, Shepard Fairey, Keetra
Dean Dixon, Steven Harrington, Daniel Eatock,
— You mention a ‘community that is not a community’. But do you feel you’re part of any group
at all in New York City? I was on the board of
the AIGA/NY until recently, so I feel very connected to the design scene in New York. Before that, I admit that I was quite oblivious to
it. I have friends who are artists, and I do try
to see as much art as I can. But, while a lot
of my friends are creative, others are also the
complete opposite of me. I’m inspired by all of
them, creative backgrounds or not. In general,
though, I’m not consciously part of any community, and I don’t really feel a part of the art
scene in New York — if there is such a thing.
— You seem to be traveling for work constantly
— do you enjoy a sense of nomadism? I’ve been
fortunate recently to go to Sydney, Costa Rica
and New Orleans for work. I just got back from
Playa del Carmen and am going to Miami next
week. Travel is a huge perk of my work. I’ll
take whatever I can get! Though I don’t exactly
‘work’ in other geographical settings — there
might be a shoot or a workshop in another city,
but I don’t feel that this is the same thing as
sitting down and working on a computer. New
York is where it all comes together for me. I
work at home: it’s very quiet there, which is
how I like it.
Mess, charcoal on paper
By Katya Tylevich
— What was the artistic stimulation like in Perth?
There was no artistic stimulation! My friends
and I made our own magazines, clothes, art,
shows: we had to stimulate ourselves! Looking back, though, I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I return to visit Perth now, I appreciate
the landscape more than I ever did. It’s a beautiful place.
Leanne Shapton, to name but a few. There’s a
name for this movement: ‘transitionists’. So I
guess if I was to consider myself a part of a
community at all, it would be that one. But it’s
not like we ever get together or talk about it or
even know each other necessarily. Really, it’s a
like minded community that is not a community.
— Do you have a favourite way to work? I love
making a mess with charcoal. I have to be near a
sink to wash up because I get it all over myself.
Studio Visits
Studio Visits
Love, charcoal on paper
Bag Art for American Rag, Japan
Untitled (There 01), Photo collage
There’s a name for this
movement: ‘transitionists’.
So I guess if I was to
consider myself a part of a
community at all,
it would be that one