A CONVO WITH PLASTICPECO
Who is plasticpeco?
One in two billion nights
it’s my eyes
One in two billionth of the waves
it’s my teardrops
One in two billionth of the wind
it’s my breath
One in two billionth of me
is it still me?
One in two billionth of the light
it’s my loneliness
covering the land
calling to you
(poem by plasticpeco)
Do you have a background in art/illustration or are you a self-taught artist?
In 2019 I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Illustration. But actually, I majored in Computer Science and Technology during my undergraduate period. Since I was a child, most of my school time was focused on science studies (I mean Math, Chemistry, Physics, etc.). Even though I spent almost all my free time on music, manga, animation and drawing, I never thought that I could be an art student at that time. It’s hard to explain… I was born in a small town in China and most people here want their children to learn something practical, in order to get a better income or social status. I had no idea about art in such circumstances. I was just totally engrossed in Japanese animation and enjoyed drawing my own stories and characters everyday.
Things started changing when I got a severe depression soon after entering the undergraduate university. I could not sleep at night and I could not help thinking about the fact that I should do something else, something more suitable for me to express my own feelings and imagination. But it wasn’t until I finished my undergraduate studies that I made up my mind to give it a try in the art field. Illustration seems to be a natural choice because I really loved drawing and I knew nothing about other things than that at that time.
But I didn’t do much about illustrations when I went to art school. I just felt so excited about everything I saw and felt in school. It was my first time I got the chance to learn and explore a lot of things about art. The tracks I uploaded on Soundcloud were also made in those two years. I was more interested in trying more rather than becoming a professional illustrator.
The inspiration behind your subjects
I can feel a core in my mind which can be traced back to my childhood. I feel great resonance with the description of the Middle West written in The Great Gatsby:
“The poor son-of-a-bitch,” he said.
One of my most vivid memories is of coming back West from prep school and later from college at Christmas time. Those who went farther than Chicago would gather in the old dim Union Station at six o’clock of a December evening, with a few Chicago friends, already caught up into their own holiday gayeties, to bid them a hasty good-by. I remember the fur coats of the girls returning from Miss This-or-that’s and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matchings of invitations: “Are you going to the Ordways’? the Herseys’? the Schultzes’?” and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands. And last the murky yellow cars of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad looking cheerful as Christmas itself on the tracks beside the gate.
When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again.
That’s my Middle West — not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. I am part of that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters, a little complacent from growing up in the Carraway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family’s name. I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all — Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.”
(The Great Gatsby, Francis Scott Fitzgerald)
I still love my hometown, although it’s less developed and many older people are less educated. Honestly I don’t know why. I just feel I lived a precious time in this small town. I observed and explored this place alone when I was a little kid and got the first glimpse of many kinds of emotions, feelings. I left my hometown for a better education after I finished my primary school studies. I went far and far away from it, Changsha, Nanjing, Shanghai, finally the United States. Every time I meet new, unfamiliar places, my feelings about my hometown and childhood change, generating something hard to describe with words, which I like to draw out.
Now I am living in my hometown. Due to COVID – 19, this period became the longest time I stayed in my hometown in the last 16 years. What surprised me is that I began missing the cities I once lived in. Hometown became a concept in my memory, no longer a real place that existed. I realized I just enjoy going back into the past, “back into those details that do not exist in anybody’s head but mine. Childhood, then, is a magical source that lies between shadow and light, so deeply embedded in the past that it is always possible to evoke it with new shadings that may fall into the realm of dreams.”
(Extract from Sargon Boulus – Knife Sharpener, P15-16).
What can you tell me about the technical production of your works, what tools do you use?
I feel like I’m just using some very basic and simple techniques, very common tools. I’m willing to experiment with more materials than a specific one. It takes some patience to find out what I like in each technique, but it also gives me pleasure. For hand drawing, I use gouache, watercolor, colored pencils, pastels, ball pen, etc. For digital drawing, I mainly use two apps on my iPad: Procreate and Adobe Fresco.
Do you prefer print or digital?
Digital is good for spreading and I always think being seen by others is very important. But I also like the physical touch of print and its realistic feeling of possession.
What about your ceramic creations? Why do you use this material?
I care more about what I can experience during the process than what I can accomplish in the end of it. Whenever I start to create, what’s in my mind is always what I can try, not what it will look like in the end. I like the uncontrollable nature of ceramics. You can experiment a lot with this material and it’s hard to predict the final look.
For example, in this piece, I learned from a Japanese Artist, Naoki Nomura, and tried to mix the underglaze with glaze, then I got a surprised effect on the back of the baby which was hard to replicate.
Your favorite artist (or illustrator), favorite movie (or cartoon) and favorite musician
I also love peiyuuuue’s work which I found on her Instagram. Her works have a rough, childlike feeling but with 100% sincerity and loveliness. I always feel the love, the happiness and hope from her posts.
My favorite animation are Masaaki Yuasa’s Kaiba and Ping Pong.
I love Fishmans so much! Their live album “98.12.28 男達の別れ” is my favorite!