On April 8, we sat down with Jun Yang, a visual artist based in San Francisco, to discuss his artistic journey.
Jun Yang’s Artist Statement below:
Jun Yang is a young multi-international artist who has lived on three continents and in nine countries over the past ten years. The diversity of influences in his life and work include contemporary pop art, European high fashion, mid century American expressionism, and global hiphop culture. Jun’s work captures emotion and refracts it through space and color to create pieces which speak to viewers in a universal way, transcending the need for a common language. An expression of Introspection disguised as feral Escapism, the work stands without explanation. The artist’s communication is incomplete until the viewers’ contribute their own context to the conversation.
So how did your San Francisco story begin?
I first moved to Europe from Korea, and I lived there for about five
years. Then, I came to San Francisco, and I’ve been here for 10 years so far.
How did you make your name?
Initially I was supported by local galleries, coffee shops and small business owners in San Francisco. Several tech companies based in SF commissioned me to create pieces for them and our local city hall supervisor displayed my art in city hall, as well.
Currently, I feel that Instagram is the perfect art community for me. Since it’s a place where all my fans and supporters can see my body of work. I can communicate with my audience, which helps me find my niche amongst all of the other Instagram artists.
How difficult is the journey to become a recognized Instagram artist?
I have invested a lot of time and effort to create my particular style. I’m an artist that likes to connects all genders, ages, and cultures, which is
why I paint fun animals. Initially, when I began to paint animals, I was shocked to see how engaged my Instagram audience became with my work. I gained like 1000 followers a week, which is really impressive.
What is your current style?
As of last year, I really wanted to become popular on Instagram in order to sell my work. But this year, I understood how much my audience wants to see my authentic personality. So I stopped creating art that’s going to get followers and likes. That’s not the artist I want to be.
As a reminder to my followers and fellow artists, it’s okay to take a break from your social media pages. You don’t need to obsess over sharing the beautiful pictures of your art that you know will get attention. Instead, as an artist, you should share more about the journey you’re on, rather than the final product.
How did this shift come about?
This shift happened earlier this year when I had my art show in Europe. I met journalists and creative directors that worked in galleries all around the world, and they told me, “art shouldn’t just be pretty, but there should be something meaningful to it.” So since then, I forced myself to go against my traditional style and to challenge myself to create a new, more authentic version of my art.This new version of my art includes lots of abstract art. While I enjoy painting vibrant animals, I also want to create
abstract pieces. My style now is to paint my emotions
and the outside environment everyday. So if I see rain outside, I’ll want to
paint that. If I experience a new culture while traveling, I want to
How scary was this decision to risk fame and fortune for authenticity?
Switching from painting animals to abstract art was a scary decision,
since Instagram is my main business. However, I have lots of confidence and a strong self-esteem to fully believe in my decision. I realized people don’t want to see pretty photos anymore. They want to see
authenticity in the form of real stories. My story becomes unique because of my progression from painting animals to abstract pieces. You can see elements of abstract in my animals through the use of black lines. A true artist will appreciate this self-evolution, and in fact, many artists have told me how inspired they are by my new pieces.
So what’s the goal for your the new Jun Yang?
When I was in Europe, I was so impressed by the artists that traveled
internationally for their shows. My next goal is to work with these artists, and to learn more about the broader art scene. I want to move beyond my small studio in the Mission to reach an international audience.
What advice can you share for aspiring artists?
I think you have to continue producing enormous amounts of work and to
change your style over time. Eventually, when you form a career in art, your style and your rewards will naturally come. I can promise artists, especially those that are self-taught, that success will come, as long as you work very hard. Personally speaking, sometimes I would only sleep for four hours and paint the rest of the day. This is the type of dedication needed.
I also recommend providing a service to create a name and to generate good will. For example, volunteer your time and skills to help other people.
My advice to artists is to keep working hard, to believe in yourself,
and to be positive even when life gets complicated. You have to really
trust yourself to have fun creating memorable pieces of art. Also,
find people that think big and are inspiring in order for you to keep