22: First the background questions, where did you grow up and how did you get involved with art?
OPHELIA CHONG:I grew up in the wilds of Canada, in the city of Toronto. I remember my first collage, in grade five; it was a collage made of magazine bits and it was blue and green. During my formative years I was an explorer, I would ride my bike from mid-town to the lake and back; I would disappear for a whole day, exploring the city on my three-speed bike. I quickly outgrew Toronto and packed up and left for Los Angeles. I went to the Art Center College of Design and graduated with a BFA in Painting. I am an adjunct professor there in the Photography Dept.
OPHELIA CHONG: I love seeing the possibilities of color. Of using the pieces of paper as paint, my X-acto knife the brush.
22: What about the fusion of collage and design appeals to you? Are they really just versions of the same thing?
OPHELIA CHONG: It’s all the same thing, I see it all as color and form, no matter what medium it is.
22: You also seem to have a penchant for typography and presses where did that start?
OPHELIA CHONG: Shapes, I love the curves of typography. When I was younger I would sit in class sketching serif fonts. I loved the thin with the thick, the swoosh and staccato of forms in typography. When I first used a Vandercook Press six years ago, I was hooked. I love the ink pressing into the paper, the randomness of where the letters fell onto pieces of ephemera that I put through the press. How each piece was a singular piece of art. Never to be repeated twice. I use only vintage magazines to print on, therefore each piece is non-repeatable.
22: Can you explain your 35mm slide work (surreal cereal) process a little? What inspired working with collage this way? Any specific artists?
22:Who are some of your favorite designers or artists in general?
OPHELIA CHONG:All art from the 16th – 18th century. Fritz Sauter ( a Swiss printmaker), 15th century Gothic churches, Orson Welles, Paul Rand, [Richard] Neutra, music for the clavichord, the flavor of the week and anything that makes me want to grab an X-acto knife.
22: How did you start working on the slips of paper series? What was your first collage for that?
OPHELIA CHONG: I started in 1999, but if I had to trace it back, since I could use scissors. I picked up a small Moleskine sketch book in 1999 and started sticking bits of paper in it to relieve the stress I was going through at my job as a Creative Director. I filled books and books with “slips of paper”, not really going towards an end goal, just to keep myself from the digital world. All my work is non-digital.
22: How do you balance your professional life with your artistic career, do the two ever clash? Or do they enhance each other?
OPHELIA CHONG: I melded both into one. I have a rep in NYC for my illustration, and I now have a studio that I sit in all day working. I love it. Work = Love = Happiness
22:What are you currently working on? Any upcoming projects?
OPHELIA CHONG: I am writing more, I write commentary for KCET ( a local TV station in Los Angeles) and for howtosplitanatom.com . I have work traveling from Barcelona to NYC, it will take 2 years to finish my travels. My letterpress work is at the Hunt Gallery at Webster University in St.Louis. My project now is to keep cutting paper and I know I will never tire of it; the only time I get into trouble is when I cut up something someone was still reading. Never leave anything you want to read around me, it just might end up in a collage.