ART SERIES

A collection of dreams

Sai Li


Sai Li,

San Francisco based painter, animator, illustrator and comic artist.

Born and raised in China.

Graduated from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) with a BA in animation, 2012.

Currently enrolled in San Francisco Art Institute MFA program (2014-2016).

Find out more: Website | Blog | Instagram


TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF.

I fell in love with drawing when I was around 7-8 years old. I got a manga from my friend and was shocked by what beautiful things people could create with pen and paper. It showed me a whole new dimension to explore. That is where I started and when I decided this was the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was making my own manga when I was like 9 then expanded it to illustration, animation and eventually fine art. 

Your art toggles between the aesthetics of realism and intimacy—they can be intense and yet you capture something so close and whimsical and surreal. What inspires you to create art in such a way?

I would say I am inspired by my daily life. I always pay a great amount of attentions to details. Emotions, memories, dreams (the ones I have every night) and people around me are all my fuels. I tend to be as open, honest and vulnerable as possible in my art for I feel this is the only territory that I am allowed to do so.

WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST?

It is pretty difficult to pick ONE. Satoshi Kon, Robert Morris, Edvard Munch are my top three favorites.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. It definite connects with my art. The extremely beautiful romanticism and nihilism embedded in this book have a tremendous influence on how I see the world, and therefore, make art. Also, his sensitive observation of details and sharp (even harsh) analysis of people, life, and social system are important inspirations for me as well.

WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO PROCESS? TO FORM?

I always see the process of art making as a conversation between my work and I. It is rare for me to do a draft or set a specific “plan” for a piece. I normally follow the feelings and start the work, then “talk” with it, feel it and move along with it. When the feelings are gone, the piece is finished. I see more value in the process of art making than the actual finished piece, at least for my own work.

As for form, I try not to get limited by it. I always seek for the form that fits what I want to express at that moment the most. Kind of all over the place…

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY THINK OF YOUR ART? WHAT'S THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO IT?

I am the only artist in my whole family but they definitely influenced my art practice. As I mentioned, my art deals with memories and comes from the way I observe/perceive the world around me. My families—the relationship I have with them, the way I was raised, the geographical distance between us, etc.—give huge impact on (if not shape) both of them.



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