Dana Hong is an emerging artist whose illustrations reflect her emotional journey. Self-reflective by nature, Dana’s artworks remain true to her inner thoughts and emotions; the source of her inspiration and why so many people connect with her digital prints.
We’re delighted to have commissioned Dana to create a limited edition print, which she has titled 'Soft Hours', for exclusive sale on the Affordable Art Fair online marketplace.
In our latest artist interview, Dana tells us all about the symbolism and themes of wellbeing and mental health in this piece and her practice as a whole.
EXCLUSIVE LIMITED EDITION 'SOFT HOURS' BY DANA HONG
Hi Dana, we’re delighted that your limited edition print, 'Soft Hours' will be exclusively sold on our online marketplace. Can you tell us about the concept behind the piece?
Hello! I’m very excited for the commission as well. 'Soft Hours' depicts a person adrift in isolation. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, many people are isolated in their homes experiencing a huge range of feelings. 'Soft Hours' represents a quiet mood of melancholic warmth, a mood that is easy to experience given the time and space we have to reflect alone, in our places of comfort.
What do the lights, plants and water symbolise?
Trying to soak up some sunlight, taking a bath, and looking after my house plants are all habits I developed while studying, if I ever felt down. So, I started to incorporate those elements into my drawing quite organically, as my drawings often deal with the subject of mental health.
In 'Soft Hours', the electronic lights replace sunlight, which represents isolation, as we can’t go outside freely. The lamps hanging from the ceiling, red on the left and yellow on the right, symbolise the sun and the moon respectively. The ‘sun’ placed above the bath and the ‘moon’ placed above the plant, expresses our lost sense of day and time in what feels like endless isolation. The plants being healthy, even when they are indoors without sunlight, symbolising our wellbeing and staying steady despite the disruption to our normal daily lives.
You explore wellbeing and mental health in your work – what do you find inspirational about these themes? Do you see your practice as therapeutic?
For me, my own wellbeing / mental health is why I started to draw. I definitely see my practice as a therapeutic. I’m very lucky that I have this medium and skill to be able to use it in such a positive and productive way.
Drawing has always been like a therapy for me, a medium in which I can let out all the emotions I found too hard to handle, during low times in my life. When I started noticing people empathising with my work (or its message), I took solace from it. I think the fact that my work can provide some emotional relief or comfort to others, is what inspires and motivates me to keep exploring wellbeing / mental health. I think some people find it hard to reflect on their own wellbeing or thoughts or emotions. I believe it’s my responsibility as an artist to give them that self-reflective opportunity, so people can have a chance to take a break, look at themselves and reflect, which will help with their own wellbeing.
Are you a homebody by nature? How important is it for you to surround yourself with art at home?
I wasn’t a homebody before I started drawing, but I definitely am now! I still get inspiration from going outside, but now I appreciate time alone for self-reflection and spend more time doodling little ideas, whenever they come to my mind.
Surrounding myself with art at home is very important to me, because it’s what I see when I’m at my most relaxed. In the same way I want to inspire emotional comfort and solace to others through my work, I want the same sense of relaxation from the art I interact with in my personal place.
Can you talk us through how you produce one of your works?
Whenever I have a visual idea and concept, I start by drawing a rough sketch, sometimes really roughly on my phone 'memo' app, just with my finger. Then, when I decide to develop it properly, if can visualise exactly what I want, I work it into more specific sketch. If I have difficult time visualising it straight away, I do some research and get back to drawing.
In terms of my drawing process, I hand draw everything with pencil and paper. Then I scan it and work further digitally using my Wacom tablet. If it’s going to be a digital print, I try to imagine how big I want the artwork to be when printed. Once I decide the dimensions, I draw the outline based on the sketch I made with pencil on a paper. Choosing colours comes next and then adding textures or effects, like splash or blurred lights in case of 'Soft Hours'.
When did you start to work with Made in Arts London? Why do you look for gallery representation?
I started working with Made in Arts London in the summer of 2019. As an international student who didn’t have many connections or resources in London, I saw it as a great opportunity. Having gallery representation gives me a feeling of 'real'. To see my physical work being displayed in a physical setting is so rewarding and overwhelming. Exhibiting gives me the opportunity to think about my practice in a broader sense, because I have to think about printing methods, framing, lighting, display, etc. It’s a whole level up from producing my work within a digital framework and helps me grow as an artist.
What advice would you give to any aspiring artists reading this interview?
Keep creating and keep putting your work out there. Don’t compare yourself to other artists that you think are 'better'; or 'more successful', just do your thing and keep working. The right opportunity for you will come at the right time. I’m still an emerging artist myself, so I’ve got a long way to go, but I had never imagined being commissioned by big companies / institutions and getting interviewed by the Affordable Art Fair. Who knew! I think if you’re serious about your art, keep going and going, and it will happen eventually.
Huge thanks to Dana for such an honest and insightful interview. We’re sure, like her artwork, so many of us will connect with the feelings she describes. To find out more about 'Soft Hours' and browse more of Dana’s digital masterpieces, simply follow the links below.
Featured art from first to last:
Emerging Artist, Dana Hong who created Soft Hours, exclusive to the Affordable Art Fair online marketplace.
Dana Hong, Soft Hours, 2020, limited edition of 20, digital print, 42 x 59.4cm, £150, Made in Arts London.
Dana Hong, Free Falling, 2019, limited edition of 15, digital print, 42 x 59.4cm, £150, Made in Arts London.
Three images of Dana Hong in the studio, preparing a silkscreen print of her digital artwork.
Dana Hong, Stay Together, 2020, limited edition of 20, digital print, 42 x 59.4cm, £150, Made in Arts London.