Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Sean Chao now finds home in Los Angeles. In 2007, Chao graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, with a BFA in Illustration. He learned how to create in a variety of mediums, from drawing to painting to sculpture. He found that he liked making art with his hands.
Chao creates his miniature sculptures in a small studio with Sculpey (a type of polymer clay), bass wood, balsa wood, paper, wire, and painstaking precision. He creates a delicate balance in his sculptures by showing enough detail to illicit amazement and yet enough imperfection to reveal that they’re lovingly handmade.
Nature is a recurring theme in Chao’s work. He often depicts dense forests filled with plants, animals, and insects. He’s also portrayed ocean scenes and even space scenes. He creates a lot of movement in every scene so that each one feels like a moment frozen in time. Watching people view Chao’s artwork, you can’t help but notice their looks of awe as they pore over all the minute details and then their smiles as they walk away. So his intention with his artwork to offer a bit of joy to people seems to be working. Art that tries to change the world - even in a small way—may not be so simplistic after all.
-bio from Sean Chao's website
Chao is one of the participating artists for the ON/OFF Grid art exhibition (April 6 - June 3) at the Gene Siskel Film Center in conjunction with the FAAIM 23rd Annual Asian American Showcase, 2018. We asked him a few questions about his work and artistic practice!
Does your identity or personal story inform your work? Who/what inspires you?
I like to create art based on my personal experiences and things happening around me or my friends. Nature is one of my favorite subjects so I tried to go out and explore as much as I can.
How has technology affected your creative process? Does this affect how you view or choose to interact with the world?
Technology is not essential during the creating process of my works. I basically built them very low tech with my hands. However computer definitely makes research and brainstorming process easy.
I think technology brought everyone closer to each other and the world became smaller by it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though.
How do you think digital formats impact your field and your audience?
When people see art on digital formats most of the time are in front of a computer or phone on Instagram. It’s faster to reach out to the audiences but digital images can never translate perfectly for three dimensional sculpture. Seeing them in person always will have a stronger impact.
What do you think about AI?
I think AI is ok, as long as it doesn’t think human is a threat to ourselves and wipe us out like in a Hollywood movie.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently traveling in Japan but I will be creating new works for a group show at gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California.