“Leave Me Alone”
The “Track Light” series serves to briefly introduce a number of individuals involved
with the One World Artist Gallery from their various places around the globe.
Today, I talk with Chinese-born/Paris-based illustrator & architect Caring Wong.
John: Hey Caring! You know… you’re the only “Caring” that I know. Who gave you that name?
Caring: My parents, haha. It’s the same pronunciation of my name in Chinese (Cantonese).
John: And what’s the meaning?
Caring: It means “novelty”!
John: Okay, Ms. Novelty. Where’s your hometown and how did you end up in Paris? If your name is Cantonese, then you’ve given me a good clue.
Caring: I grew up in Guangzhou and went to Paris to continue my study of architecture after university.
John: I don’t remember if I told you or not… but I lived for a few years in Guangzhou. It’s where I learned to design and manufacture the first DrawBag. I used to go to Sanyuanli market and look for sample materials all the time, or reference bags for inspiration.
Caring: I grew up in Panyu, in the south of Guangzhou. And the university where I studied architecture is in Tianhe.
John: Ah, Tianhe. We laowai (foreigners) know it well. So what are your first memories of art?
Caring: I’ve been addicted to watching and drawing cartoons since I was a child. I love all types of Japanese anime and Disney animation. They had a great influence on my growth as an artist.
Caring: I remember watching Cinderella and all the films of Studio Ghibli countless times.
John: And did you watch the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) cartoons growing up?
Caring: Yes. Do you know the film “Monkey King: Hero Is Back” that came out in 2015?
John: Yes, I do.
Caring: It’s my favorite version for the moment!
John: Just the other day a Chinese friend told me about the new Ne Zha animated film. Sadly, it’s not subtitled in English here. I didn’t even know this character or story, but grew more interested the more I read about him.
So are Hiyao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli films some of your biggest influences?
Caring: Yes. I was attracted to the setting and the story of Ghibli films when I first watched Totoro. To paint a scene full of dreams like that became my hobby at the time.
John: You know, I think it can be challenging to present worlds that inspire our dreams and imagination these days. The danger is in appearing escapist or falsely sentimental. But I think your work definitely has a quality of sincere beauty and wonder to it.
Caring: Oh, and Monet is also a great influence. In Paris, I’ve been given so many more opportunities to get in touch with art than ever before. The exhibitions, the museums, and my journeys through Europe have helped me find more inspiration.
John: What was it about Monet in particular that has inspired you?
Caring: His colors!
John: Okay, duh. And what do you do when you aren’t studying or making art?
Caring: In addition to being a freelance illustrator, in fact, another part of my life is with architecture.
John: Yeah, you know… many of your images remind me of scenes from Hong Kong or Guangzhou. They have these tight spaces packed with life and detail.
How much are you doing architecture these days? And who are your favorite architects?
John: I need to mention in closing that I really loved the DrawBag you hand-painted!
John: Thanks so much for chatting a bit today. In Cantonese, we say (拜拜) baai-baai!