Shadow Chen (Leiying Chen), based in Shanghai, is originally from Ningbo. She is good at making colorful illustrations and digital art, graphic design.
Her artwork style often rich in liquid forms and imaginations. She has been working with clients including many trendy brands, and also participate in cross-over collaborations. She used to work as a creative director at a Shanghai creative agency Neocha, now she’s busy in creating personal artworks, her own creative projects, freelancing and working as an independent creative director.
Interview by Dominique Musorrafiti
China-Underground: What motivated you to become an artist and illustrator?
Shadow Chen: I’ve always loved to draw and been fascinated by the colors of nature, it’s more like a pleasure of mine than a career.
C-U: Your style is unique and full of colors, does it reflect the way you see the world?
S C: Thanks! Definitely it does, sometimes I love to stare at an abstract form things like stains of water, or textures of a concrete wall, and thinking about what kind of figure they would bear or maybe inside there are secret codes, and colors. I’m overly confident that I’m among those who could see the world with much brighter and vibrant colors. But more like, I have remained my child heart inside.
Volvo, Häagen-Dazs, Pepsico, Adobe, Adidas, Gap, Converse, Nike, Starbucks … are some of the many clients of Shadow Chen
C-U: What keep you inspired to make the difference compare to other?
S C: I never think that I’ve made enough to be different to actually make a difference, but I will always try to be better, right now I’m very aware of taking the chances to help me to actually make one. So far I just hope my interesting shapes and bright colors could make some of who are viewing my works a little bit happy.
C-U: Are there any of your work related to a moment that marked a significant change in your life?
S C: Many of my personal artworks do, some of the works have fairly brighter or more colors they represent my voice that eager to be heard, and those seem quite emotional are definitely portraits of my heart that grown with changes, right now I’m trying to redeem a lot of my old works, I believe that there is brilliance in every artists’ early works, sometimes more than later, I try to update them with my grown skill and a new perspective.
C-U: As a digital artist and illustrator do you prefer to work by yourself or do you enjoy working with a team? What are the different benefits?
S C: I definitely love and enjoy working with a team, although as an artist there’s naturally more chance to be alone than to work as a team, but I have it in mind of how amazing it feels when working with other brilliant collaborators as a team, and actually create way better result, less personal, but more together.
C-U: What about your work experience as Creative Director at NeochaEDGE?
S C: I loved my working experience in Neocha, it’s very important for the growth of myself in all kinds of aspects, I learned a lot of different designing and creating process and a lot of organizing and managing other artists to create good results for some of the most innovative brands and agencies today, plus I made bunch of best friends to help me with my Shanghai lifestyles haha, to make me feel like home actually.
C-U: What was the best goal do you achieved during this period?
S C: The best goal was gaining confidence of me directing the creating process for major brands, and have found some of my best friends.
C-U: Has the Shanghai lifestyle changed, compared to when you moved? If yes does this affect your way of creating?
S C: Yes significantly, the focus has been shifted from the western value to Chinese value, before we would love to be hired by the western companies and make it as a privilege of our experiences, right now we need to think harder and work harder to compete with the western artists and designers who would love to work for Chinese companies and brands, my way of creating definitely need to measure up to the international standard, and at the same time, focus on our unique roots and our own culture.
Photos courtesy of Shadow Chen
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CHINA-UNDERGROUND. Ciao! My name is Dominique. I’m Italian and I’m proud to be a mix. My father was an Italian chemical engineer and high school teacher, with Greek and Polish heritage. My mother is Haitian, she was high school language teacher, with Dominican, Spanish, French, Portuguese, African and Native American heritage. Being a mix makes me appreciate to want to understand different cultures and lifestyles. I grew up in Italy, lived few years in Haiti, travel around main European capitals, lived seven years in China, six in Spain and UK. Traveling makes me feel that we can learn something from every situation in every part of the world.