Hiya, I’m Kelly. I’m a twenty-three year old designer living in London. I’m from Hong Kong.
What are some of your influences/inspires you on a daily basis? Explain your creative process.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a series on the theme of colonialism. I just finished the first piece, called The Landing. (Shown above)
How do you feel about being an emerging creative? Any thoughts on how the online community and social media has changed to benefit the creatives of our generation?
I’m not against it. I think the things I see online are pretty interesting these days. There is so much you can do nowadays. On one hand, there is an overkill of trends… there are more things that make you go, oh I’ve seen this and that before. But trends will always exist, and there are still so many things I come across online that blow my mind and challenge my thinking of design in new ways all the time. The online community pushes us to go further because there are just so much good work out there that are available for everyone to see and appreciate.
Any advice you could give to other emerging artists / advice you’d been given in the past that you’d like to share?
Someone once said these encouraging words to me, “Someone one day will find your work and things will take off from there”. My mantra, as cheesy as it is, is to keep doing what I love doing and not worry too much.
What would you like to get out of your twenties? What would you like to have achieved by the time you reach 30?
How do you spend your mornings?
You’re on death row. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted. You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
TB: Introduce yourself!
C: My name is Carley Cornelissen and I am a 32 year old artist from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
TB: What are some of your influences? What inspires you on a daily basis? Your creative process?
C: I love colour, I was always very conservative with my colour use in the past but in the last few years I have realised that bright colours inspire and motivate me, fluro pink and all shades of blue being my favourites. I also work in an art supplies store so I am lucky enough to be constantly surrounded by colour on a daily basis and am always on the look out for new colour combinations.
TB: What are you working on right now?
C: I have been lucky enough to be represented by Retrospect Galleries who have a gallery in Byron Bay here in Australia but also travel to Europe and Asia for international art fairs and the next ones are coming up later this year so I am working on some new pieces for that. Also I am about to begin a mural in the lounge room of our new house, 4 meters long, my largest piece ever! So we’ll see how that goes, I’m pretty excited!
TB: How do you feel about being an emerging creative in this era? Thoughts on how social media has changed to benefit the creatives of our generation?
C: I LOVE Instagram! It is such an amazing platform for creatives to not only get their work out there but also to connect with other like minded people. I have been lucky enough to connect with such a wonderfully supportive group of incredibly talented people and they inspire me every day. I also find it is great to see the process of other artists, how they work and what inspires them. I love the way the artwork and the artist become so much more connected with social media. But the short answer is yes, I am addicted to instagram!
TB: Any advice for other emerging artists / advice you’d been given in the past that you’d like to share?
C: Probably the most important piece I could give is one that I had to learn myself. I spent many years after Uni unsuccessfully trying to find my own voice with my practice, now when I look back I realise I was trying to recreate styles that I admired in other artists. I would jump from one style to another and never be satisfied with the results. But I now realise that I was painting too much from my brain and not from my heart. The transition from that to what I do now wasn’t overnight but I realised that the more colour I used and the more freely I used it the more insipired I was and it just led on to another idea and so on from there. So I think the advice is paint from your heart and follow your passion in your practice and the rest can kind of fall into place from there.
TB: Any plans to come to Hong Kong in the future? (We gotta ask. Drinks on us!)
C: Hopefully! I’ve never been before but my art has! My husband and I are planning a trip around Europe on a motorbike next year so that will be first!
TB: How do you spend your mornings?
C: If it is a work day I will either ride my bike to work, go to the gym or sleep in till the very last minute! I normally don’t do any painting before work, I leave that till after dinner. But if its a studio day I will drink coffee and binge watch tv shows while painting in the studio all day, that’s my favourite kind of day!
TB: You’re on death row. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted. You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
C: Hmmm, I think it would have to be a platter with pesto pasta, vegetarian dumplings and potato gems, with ice cream for dessert!
FIND CARLEY CORNELISSEN:
WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM
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TB: Introduce yourself!
T: Hi, my name’s Thor Rixon and I am a music producer and film director from Cape Town, South Africa.
TB: How did you first get into producing music?
T: I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to take when I finished high school so I decided to go out and take a course in music production in June 2010. I loved it and have been practicing in my bedroom and friends studios almost every day since.
TB: How would you describe the music you make?
T: I would say it is organic and acoustic sounding electronic music. The tempos vary drastically between each track. I also try and put as much sadness/happiness into the music as well. ‘Melancholic tones’ is another way of putting it I suppose.
TB: What are some of your influences/inspirations, musical or otherwise?
T: I am a huge fan of really honest and heart wrenching folk music. Bands like Beirut, Noah and the Whale, Cat Empire and Bonobo are some of my favourite artists and are listened to everyday. Aside from musical inspiration, people who push our understanding of what is good and really extended their creativity are what inspire me to do the things I do. I get really excited when I see something that I have never seen or heard before.
TB: Tea Time Favourites, your 2nd album, is a great mix: how did you come to work with the artists on the album? What was the driving force behind creating the album? How did you come up with its name?
T: When I write an album I just give myself a date and write as many songs and as much as possible leading up to about 3 months before that date where I choose my ‘favourites’ and massage/tweak those till they are sounding like something worth sharing. I am good friends with all of the collaborators on the album and when I wrote the songs initially, I felt that certain people would really suit the song and take it to where it’s meant to be. The name of the album came about in conversation with friends. I am constantly writing down album names or band names that just happen from conversations or from a funny thing that someone said. I cant remember exactly how it came about, I just remember sticking with that as a name for a long time.
TB: You did a surreal, ‘weirdly wonderful’ photoshoot for the album - do you feel a strong connection between film and music? You’re also a director - do you find visuals to be as important with music as with film?
T: Music and Film compliment each other so well. If I could, I would have a video to accompany every single one of my songs. When you put a visual to a sound you are adding another view point and understanding to both mediums, you are giving the sound context and the visual feeling.
TB: What’s your first musical memory?
T: My parents played me a record of Burning Spear’s Black Wa Da Da (The Invasion) which wasn’t necessarily my 1st musical experience but was definitely the time in my life where I fell in love with music. The thick bass line in that track is something that has stuck with me and will continue to do so in to the future. It’s so badass and just pure groove.
TB: Favourite collaboration? (Either real or imaginary - is there someone you’d love to work with?)
T: The person I would really love to collaborate with would definitely be Zach Condon of Beirut and Spoek Mathambo.
TB: What’s on your iPod? What are you listening to right now? What are some all-time favourites?
T: I’m currently listening to The Watermark High who is a super badass young producer from South Africa that is destined for some great things. It’s very chilled, downtempo electronic rumblings. https://soundcloud.com/thewatermarkhigh
TB: How do you spend your mornings?
T: I spend my mornings trying to; wake up for an hour or so (the snooze button is the devil), make some gourmet breakfast and gourmet tea, get dressed and head out to vibe the day ahead.
TB: Would you rather live one 1,000 year life, or ten 100 year lives?
T: Oh wow, you’ve got me pondering life quite hard right now. hahaha, ummmm, I’d say 100 year lives because then you can experience all the vibyness of growing up in many different ways and experiencing many unknown ways of life I suppose.
TB: And finally: you’re on death row. (Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted). You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
T: An extra large thin-based pizza with mozzarella, banana, pineapple, mushrooms, avocado, fried onion, rocket, feta and balsamic reduction. Sorry, Im a huge fan of pizza.
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My rant this week was going to be about people who rant on Facebook. Because they never take that energy and turn it into action. So I’ll make this my last post and get back to making stuff and sharing it with the world.
I will leave by saying that Hong Kong, beneath the incredible, dramatic landscape, behind the energetic facade, and lovely people, is in trouble.
I often work as a volunteer at schools and universities in Hong Kong talking about what I do and listening to students. It seems results are far more important here than creative expression, curiosity, life experience, health or morality.
We are heading even further to a rigid, conservative, narrow and boring city in the future. We fail to support and endorse art, nature, music, sport and all the other things that enrich, balance and progress society.
We haven’t had a serious international cultural export since Bruce Lee. (Yes I know Wong Kar Wei and a few others are doing us proud).
Here in Wrong Kong, we are going backwards, the collapse is already
happening in slow motion.
There is so much to rant about in Hong Kong these days. I’d rather keep the energy for making art. So instead of a rant, I’ll share this with you…
I grew up in a working class family, I was rarely monitored by my parents as they both struggled to make rent. I was left to my own devices and that meant drawing and climbing trees. I never knew what I wanted in life, only to live creatively and with adventure. I had no money but I had a very rich life.
I left home and school at 17 started my own business that boomed and
flopped and, by the time I was 21, I had already gone from rags to riches and back again. Living in gritty middle England, with few options, my life in ruins, I scraped together enough for an air ticket and never went back.
Somehow I ended up here and from humble beginnings, earning just HKD7K a month working construction on the Tsing Ma Bridge, I began my career as a painter and failed to sell a single work for the first 5 years. I couldn’t have been happier. I was just happy to pay rent and make art in my spare time.
A certain person then bought a painting and told all her friends. They wanted one too and then it snowballed and I’ve gone on to make the biggest art projects in Hong Kong history (yes, I know that scale doesn’t mean successful art but hey, it’s a start).
Now, ten years later, I’m working on an enormous project in NYC (wish it could be in Hong Kong but couldn’t get permission from government) with an incredible group of creatives and have my first solo show coming up at a prestigious London gallery. My works have gone from being a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. But it’s not the money that matters. It’s been the most wonderful journey.
I’ve always opened my heart and mind to the world and tried to make my
own mind up about it through experience. My work as an artist is a way
to translate, interpret and understand what I’ve seen. It’s a simple act, it keeps me happy. It means something to me. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone who dreams.
For me, my work, is raw, brutal, heartbreaking, beautiful, sentimental… It’s my heart squeezed out, in oil paint onto canvas.
It’s the most engaging yet difficult pursuit I’ve ever experienced, I’m destroyed and saved regularly.
It’s an odd set of skills, only achievable by endless hours in the
studio, often failing and making mistakes. But I learn something every
day. I have no talent, I’m not smart, I just work really, really, hard.
Outside of my creative output I’ve travelled the world from cities to mountains to oceans and forests, met and worked with the most fascinating people, artists, scientists, athletes, film makers, designers, architects and on and on. I have the most wonderful set of friends anyone could dream of who constantly remind me what a dick I am, but love me nonetheless. I’ve broken bones, nearly drowned, been stitched and repaired, loved and lost and come so close to death it smashed the appreciation and gratitude for this short life into every fibre of my being.
And, for all the adventure, joy, love, labour pain, frustration, insecurity, failure, being driven mad, at work and at play… it continues to be an incredible life and I have an enormous gratitude for all the people that have helped me along the way and that continue to do so and I try to repay them by doing the same by helping others.
Most people don’t know who I am, what I do or how I do it. I don’t take it for granted. I keep things simple, real and positive. My priority is to make the best work I can and be the best person I can, show kindness and contribute. If I only just make a living, it’s a living that’s worth making. There may be no future in it but it’s a present worth remembering.
I’m lucky to love what I do and though I may never be a rich man, my life is as rich as can be, with tales to tell the grandkids. My life remains remarkably fragile, professionally and personally, but I know I’m alive.
I’m not telling you this because I want to impress anyone or suggest this is the right way for everyone to live. I understand so many people have limited choices. I’m sharing my story because I did all this without an education, a rich family, a ton of extra classes, a formal day job. I got here because I climbed trees and often fell out of them and because no one stopped me making art.
In Hong Kong, kids are over protected, over managed, silenced and told what success is. They are discouraged from pursuing their passions, are risk averse and pushed toward a security that makes everyone very insecure and lacking in empathy or kindness. Their inspiration is shopping malls, conservative culture and, worst of all, the wealthy. Unless this changes you won’t see another Bruce lee for a very long time.
I don’t have a solution. All I can do is do my thing and do it well and hope that somewhere out there a cool young Hong Kong kid realises, that if I, a broke white guy with little education who is a very average artist, can succeed in such a difficult cultural environment, that he or she, with a little vision and commitment, can absolutely crush me and this city with their artistic output.
So to you, young creatives in Hong Kong. When your parents, friends or bosses tell you how to live your life, ask yourself, is their life so amazing that their advice is qualified? Is success what you are told or what you decide it is? You have layers of bullshit to un-learn I know but an amazing opportunity awaits you. You have choice.
Hong Kong’s answer to Vivienne Westwood, Lordes, Yohji Yamamoto, Charlie Kaufman, Cai Guo Chiang, Tavi Gevinson, Ryan Gosling, Yoshitomo Nara, Kelly Slater, Pharrell, JK Rowling, etc….doesn’t exist.
So you have no competition! Little to stop you. And the same amount of hours in a day as Leonardo DaVinci.
We’re all so lucky to have a certain amount of freedom and opportunity in Hong Kong, rich or poor (both have their issues) so take advantage of that, shut the fuck up, find a way and get on with it.
Make the best of what you have. That’s all I do.
I’m most often asked what my advice is to young creatives. I usually
answer, ’ Don’t take advice, from me, or anyone else. Work it out yourselves. You want to know what’s at the top of the tree? Fucking climb it and find out.’
Click here to check out more of Simon Birch’s work
(My paternal grandparents looking like real-life movie stars.)
I’ve never been more acutely aware of the realities of aging. Not just growing older, shifting priorities, fluctuating metabolisms, and increasingly earlier bedtimes. I’m particularly distracted by the painful logistics of a maxed out life.
My grandmother isn’t doing well. Mentally she’s sharp as a tack. My father recently questioned the whereabouts of a vase, and without hesitation, she directed him to an obscure hiding place in the living room. But, she’s in such tremendous pain, not just physically, but aching for her displaced independence, modesty and humility. Her suffering stems from a loss that makes a cracked pelvis seem like an irritating bruise.
This weekend my boyfriend told me that I project such a tough and impenetrable exterior and, for the most part, it’s true. But he said that despite my strength, when something cracks me, I crumble. And, he’s right.
My grandmother was cut from the same sensible stoicism or, rather, I was made from hers. But like me, when something breaks her, she’s broken. Last night, I saw the beast that broke my grandmother — time. She’s almost ninety-five years old, and the weight of a century is resting heavy on her arthritic shoulders, gnarled into large knots.
And, it terrified me.
I’ve finally reached a level of maturity of bittersweet understanding of what it means to be at the end of your life. Watching my father and his sister care for and worry about my grandmother feels like a punch in the gut. I can’t help but think big thoughts about having to go through the same generational motions with my own parents, and eventually my own hypothetical children doing so for me. If it’s all so cyclical and natural why does the very thought paralyze me?
Imagining my parents’ inevitable decline is too much to bear and, for the first time in my life, being an only child isn’t all that cute. My parents will forever remain forty years-old in my mind, the way a friend’s kid brother will always be a kid no matter how old he becomes. And it’s only when I look through the old photos from a time when they were the most beautiful couple in the room that I notice the new lines, gray hairs, dimmed irises, and marred skin. And I worry. I worry so much.
I’ve developed a personal ritual over the last few years; when I visit my grandmother’s house I pull out all the photo albums. I look at them all, touch the corners, flip them over to read the date inked in my grandmother’s slanted cursive. My father likes this ritual too. We look at the same photos every time, and they never stop making us laugh at silly haircuts, smile at those who have passed, and gawk at how little us cousins used to be.
My favorite album is always left for last like a decadent dessert. It contains exclusively black and white photographs of my grandparents and their life in early 1940’s Boston, right before they moved to Los Angeles when my father was two years old in 1947. Turning the pages I can’t help but lose my breath at these handsome strange twenty-somethings from another time. I desperately scour their faces to find myself, catching a glimpse in the curve of a nose or curl in the hair. They were so young and beautiful.
We’re all so young and beautiful. Funny to think that eventually we’ll wake up and we just won’t be anymore. It’s a beautifully morbid thing to say now, but it won’t always feel that way. One day the people in our photos will seem like old friends you once knew very well. Or maybe, it will be the opposite; the photos will feel like mirrors and reflections will render unrecognizable.
I don’t know yet.
In the limited conversation she was able to have last night, my grandmother advised us to enjoy being young, and reassured us that she had most definitely enjoyed it. I felt at peace for her, but not for myself.
Am I? Did I? I’m spiraling into selfish hole of self-doubt and potential regret.
Should I have tried to live in New York like I always thought I would? Have I spent too much time working, and not enough time wondering? Was I frivolous with money? Have I kissed enough boys? Have I looked so much that I never leapt? Am I too concerned with holding onto moments that don’t matter, and ignoring the ones that do? Were there enough mistakes, missteps, and broken feelings?
I think about my children and grandchildren coming over to my house to look into the photo boxes they’ve looked at a hundred time before, still finding joy at how young and pretty my friends and I looked posing with our vodka sodas in a dark bar. Who is that girl with the red lipstick? They never knew her. She’s a faintly familiar stranger.
My father walked me out to my car last night. I looked up at him and instantly felt ten years old again. I threw my arms around his waist and held him tighter and longer than I have in a very long time.
"Dad, don’t get old," I pleaded.
"But, I’m already old," he said patting my back.