STUDIO VISIT: PADDY LEUNG
It has been some time since I’ve caught up with Toronto-based artist, Paddy Leung. The last time I spoke to her, she was doing her quirky drawings - Paddy has since transformed her 2-D images to 3-D installations. Her playful creations can be found anywhere from gallery spaces, to store front window displays, to events, and children’s birthday parties.
At first glance, it is hard to believe that her installations and objects are made from mostly items found at your local dollar store, which not only makes me appreciate her work that much more, but it also allows her to keep her decorations affordable for small local shops around the city. She has done decorations for stores like Kolkid (a children’s store on Queen St. W), and proved to be successful in generating more foot traffic and awareness to local shops.
JZ: Can you tell me about what you do?
PL: I’m a creator that makes magical and whimsical installations for storefront window displays, event decorations and home decorations.
JZ: Having studied drawing at OCAD, how and why did you transition from a 2-D medium to creating 3-D displays and installations?
PL: I’ve always been really interested working 3-D, but I was really afraid to step away from my comfort zone. In the end I was really unhappy studying at art school because I chose the wrong program for myself. While I was studying, I was fortunate to work at the Plastic Shop as a student monitor. I spent many hours in the studio exploring the different plastic materials and learning to perfect my fabrication skills. I gradually free-lanced and started building clients by doing prototypes for small companies, meanwhile free-lanced making small displays for stores internationally. I was juggling so many jobs at the same time but I really learned a lot through working in so many different fabrication shops and retail jobs. In the last couple years I’ve only started to design my own window. I feel really lucky to have people supporting and trusting my creations!
JZ: What kind of materials do you use in your installations? Why do you choose these materials?
PL: Currently I’m obsessed working with all kinds of paper and anything that looks glittery and shinny. For most part I made a choice to keep all my material cost low and biodegradable. I work from home and sometimes that limits the choices of materials that I can work with. But I enjoy the challenges, you will noticed I often use mundane objects to re-purpose them in my magical creations.
JZ: Your work has a whimsical, playful, child-like aura. Has this always been your aesthetic?
PL: I believe that I have two very extreme side of me and maybe this is why I like to keep it balanced in all aspects of my life. However being whimsical and playful has always shown through my commercial work and personal work. A part of me think it’s because that’s just my personality. I try to always stay honest in what I am making and having fun is all part of the process of my creations.
JZ: How do you get your inspiration? How do you know what to create next?
PL: Growing up my father’s health condition has always took a big part of my family lives, in some ways I always felt like we had an expiry date to be all together. With that in mind, my childhood was taken away for a bit and had forced me to grow up a lot faster than others. But I was always a big dreamer and my imaginations was an escape for me to deal all my stress. My folks taught me to treat life as the most precious gift. Now that I am older, I try to document something that I appreciate everyday in my life. This might sound cheesy but all honesty my inspiration comes from life – living it up to it’s full potential.
My creations comes from the quality of just being, creating magical experiences and being able to share it with people. I never really know what I going to do next. I just let it come to me like how everything happens in my life. I’ve also noticed over the last couple years my experiences of being surrounded by really inspiring people has help me flourished in my creations. But being observant and exploring materials also helps me think of endless possibilities to create whatever comes to my mind.
JZ: Many artists have a tough time getting their work out there these days, and you seem to be doing just fine at this. What would you say is the most important/or helpful thing for promoting your art?
PL: To be honest, I don’t think I’m close to being where I want to be in my life. However I do appreciate all the love and support that I’ve gotten over the years. Social media has been the best thing that happened to many artists such as myself. When I first started to explore the art world I was very shy and had a very hard time understanding how to connect with people. I’ve always kept a blog and when I discovered Instagram,I started to document my life. Social media helped me to break out of my shell and even given me opportunities which I’m really grateful for. A mentor once said to me “sharing art, your skills and ideas can only make help you grow as an artist and to the art world” and that’s what I’ve been doing sharing my experiences.
JZ: What can we expect from you in the future?
PL: 2014 has been a really great year so far, I’ve been getting a lot of small and big commissions for all my handmade decorations and for event decor as well. There will be a few window installations through out the year and in fact I will be installing one soon this month for Sovereign State. Meanwhile I will be hosting a massive Mask Party that is happening at the end of May. Follow by an art show in the beginning of June showcasing some of the finest artists in our city. In September on my birthday I hope to launch my web-store selling some of the decorations that I’ve made such as the doughnut wreaths, paper clouds and many more cute things.
As for my long term goal, I’m really interested in decorating for weddings and baby showers. This is something that I’ve recently discovered and I want to explore more in that industry. I really feel like my handmade decorations could really embellish people’s lives. My hope is to keep on making and sharing these experiences with people.