Illustrator tackles bad luck and Halloween

Flavia Chan with one of piece of her public art pieces.| Photo courtesy of Flavia Chan.

Flavia Chan wants to lead audiences Down the Eerie Path. The exhibit came together when Chris Bentzen, owner of Hot Art Wet City Gallery, approached her to help him organize a show at Makerlabs.

“We knew the opening date would be Friday, October the 13th, and so we decided on a spooky theme to celebrate the famous day of bad luck as well as Halloween,” says Chan.

Ghosts will also be part of her artwork.

“I’m really scared of ghosts,” says Chan.

Fellow artists Kristian Adam, Russell Alton, and Megan Majewski, will tag along to explore the eerie path Oct. 13–Nov. 11.

“I’m excited to see what they conjure up for their artwork,” says Chan, who majored in illustration at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

Early influences

Chan, who came to Canada at the age of four, was born in a tough neighbourhood in New York City and had to stay home most of the time. Her mother noticed her artistic talent and encouraged her by supplying her with art materials as much as she could. Chan started to draw as part of her daily routine.

“My early childhood days really helped me focus on developing my skills and imagination because I had nothing else to do. When I was younger, we lived in a rougher neighborhood where my mom was too scared to bring me and my younger sister out freely by herself,” she says.

Picture books and children’s television shows accompanied Chan throughout the day along with creative activities her mother would come up with for her and her sister to engage in.

“I would wake up, watch TV, look at picture books and draw, then I’d watch more TV, read, and draw even more, and the next day would be basically the same all over again,” she says.

When Chan lived in NYC, the picture books were kept in an unused, unplugged extra fridge that happened to be stored in the basement suite in which the family lived.

“We didn’t have a lot of extra spending money to truly furnish the space to our liking, so my mom got creative with what was already there. She moved the fridge into our bedroom and stored all our precious books in it,” she says.

Stories and the emotions they can convey are at the heart of Chan`s illustrations.

“It amazes me that the story of a fictional character, either written in words, illustrated in a book, or animated by hand can move someone to tears and laughter,” she says.

Letting go is also part of Chan’s creative process.

“I think the emotions that I want to let go of also come across in my artwork. I sometimes feel there’s a little bit of me in every piece, whether it be my own emotions, hopes for the future, or daydreams about the past,” says Chan.

TuckertheBloodSucker.| Photo courtesy of Flavia Chan.

Drawing animal-like characters

Drawn to the bittersweet side of life, Chan mixes cuteness with sadness in her illustrations and uses animal-like characters to convey emotions. The combination, she says, softens the perceived emotion while increasing empathy in viewers.

“I find that people tend to feel more empathy for animals or creature-like things, especially if they’re cute, so I use cute creatures in my artwork to help draw out these feelings of empathy,” she says.

In Down the Eerie Path, Chan will be exploring the emotions of fear and hopelessness.

“To me, the eerie path is where you stumble into darkness and find yourself lost among the unfamiliar, but there’s always a chance of adapting and making it out of the dark,” she says.

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