Artist Profile: Yng Kara
Updated: Apr 2
CA: What made you first start drawing?
Kara: Art has pretty much always been around me. My mother is an architect; she went to art school, Brooklyn College, and Columbia. I wanted to be an architect like my mom and go to art school like her when I was younger. I was three or four when I started drawing.
CA: When it comes to art, what sparks a piece for you? Kara: People are my biggest inspiration. I spent a lot time learning where lines go to build a face and a form. I started with people and moved to other things. Most of my stuff start with people and the environment around me.
CA: I see most of your pieces are self portraits, what is the reason behind that? Kara: When I started to find my own style, I would do a lot of different faces. They wouldn’t all look similar to me. I also found that when I was younger there weren’t a lot of girls who looked like me in the manner that I draw (a little edgy or things I thought was cool). Why is there no one that embodies in these lifestyles? I know other girls felt the same way too. For me, I have very prominent features. In my work, I feel it is kind of empowering and I want people to see work with people possessing more define/ethnic features. You don’t have to be this one thing to fit who people think you are or what you can do to express yourself and your interests.
CA: You have some photography on your page as well. Do you feel this helps your creative juices when it comes to art (or any other creative outlet)? Kara: Definitely. My eye in photography started around 11 or 12. Photography is a big part of my life and helps with the eye (I still am active). It takes a bit of a backburner to the 1 dimensional art (the more hands on art). Not to say photography is not hands on. It definitely helps because I try to incorporate a lot of forms in my art (geometric forms and things around me).
CA: What helps you get in the mindset to draw something? Kara: When I draw, I like the max amount of my senses stimulated. Sometimes I will have my headphones on and a movie on. I might not even watch the movie but it keeps my brain firing. Music is a big part of that and I am a movie buff. That incorporates into a lot of my imagery sometimes. I like fantasy and sci fi movies. I love seeing the worlds people create because it makes me feel I need to create something. I love music. I’m a big hip hop head but I listen to a lot of different kind of music (rock, neo soul, electronic, etc).
CA: Do you have any inspiration from art (heroes)? Kara: I do have a favorite artist; Georgia O’Keith. She captivated me from a young age and her imagery can seem so simple. That was a big impression. As I was growing up, I took a big interest in film and music videos. I love being able to spot a director by their imagery and the way they shoot. Lighting, color, all that stuff rolled into how I am. It is just so exciting. If I’m watching the Pirates of the Caribbean and the fact they created these sets and worlds, it’s believable. Music videos are similar to that too. I love Hype Williams. I also like some directing Vashtie has done. It is hard to follow the music video directors because a lot of artists do music videos with people they know. If the video was shoot well, I might go and look them up.
CA: What do you feel in front of a blank canvas? Kara: When it comes to painting, I am a lot less freestyle than I am with pen/pencil on paper. Most of my paintings come from still life or things in literally in life. When I’m looking at a canvas, it is not like I’m seeing a direct plan. I am seeing a process I am going to have to go through to get a final. The finals of anything for me are never what I thought they would be in the beginning. That is perfectly fine with me because I think I would get bored if everything turned out exactly how I thought it would. With paint, you move it around a lot. It is a lot of excitement and can be intimidating looking at a blank canvas (in a good way!). The canvas is quietly asking what are you going to do right now. I don’t want to sound cocky but I say to myself I am about to stunt on this right now.
CA: What do you do to improve on your craft? Techniques? Kara: A lot it has come from things I have learned intuitively but it has mostly come from the feedback comprising of the people around me. My mother, I always go to her because she was the epitome of the artist I wanted to become. You have to know the artist you are right now is not the artist you are going to be in 3 seconds (or 5 seconds or 8 seconds). The most valuable thing to me is being open to getting closer to the artist I want to be and not knowing what that is in the present. I won’t know until the time comes. I am not open to everyone’s criticism because it isn’t always constructive. They feel like my work is going to a solid stopping point. I don’t know it is finished until the work tells me it is finished. People will give me advice that is too in the box so it won’t really help me. Most of the advice I get is unexpected so it sticks with me.
CA: Should there be rules? Are rules meant to be broken? Kara: I struggle this question every day in my head. Being in art school, you learn so many fundamentals from so many years ago. Sometimes I wonder why I have to learn these old rules. The thing about rules is you are a lot better at breaking them in a constructive way if you know what they were. You can use a rule against itself to break the rule which is something I have learned in art. They give you them so you can break them well.
CA: What is the perfect piece of art to you if it exists? Kara: I think perfect art is how it makes you connect to it emotionally. I don’t think perfect art has a form. I feel it kind of has a spiritual connection to you. Everyone sees art differently. When you see a piece that really hits you, I feel there is not concrete definition.
CA: How do you describe your style? Kara: Intelligent. Whether it is a line drawing with pen or a super complex still life that is supposed to achieve that is not really a situation visually (realistic vs surreal work). The one thing I go for is intelligence. You have to have balance. Whether it is a color relationship or the relationship between blank white space, a line, or a dot.
CA: Do you prefer pens, pencils, or a brush? Kara: I don’t really have a preference between the pen, the pencil, even the camera. They all have different stages for me. The pen work I have been doing, I have only done it for a year. I started this time last year and I want to master it (I am definitely not there yet). It really just depends on what I am working on at any different time. I love em all, I love them differently.
CA: How long have you been doing artwork? Kara: I would say it is 1996, I still have some drawings from then. Maybe I have some scribbles from ’95. I do have paintings my mother hung up I did from home or at daycare.
CA: Do you have a favorite piece? Kara: I have a self portrait from a year ago, I have not touched in a long time. It was a black and gray in charcoal on paper. I don’t think I need to finish it because I love the half finished look to it. There is another piece I am working on right now. It is a girl surrounded by circles and these shapes with no arms. It is just the bust and the head. These are my favorites as of right now.
CA: What do you feel is the best quality in terms of art that you have right now? Kara: I understand volumes really well (light and dark). That really helps me even if there is not a lot of shading in something. It helps me build the form so that it is believable. My understanding of reality and how shapes in real life along with light work. Once you know that, you can get across and take it forward.
CA: And the biggest opportunity for growth in regards to art you have as of right now? Kara: I want my work to be more emotional whether it is something that is creepy or something which is beautiful. I want my work to touch someone emotionally when they look at it. I know at this point all of my work doesn’t do that (or at least that is how I feel).
CA: What is fun and rewarding for you in regards to drawing? Kara: It is so exciting. I am creating these things but they are also telling me so much about myself (I can’t ever lose the excitement). I feel like that is very rewarding (my excitement). Also my faith. As far as religion goes, I am a religion history buff. I grew up catholic but I find a lot of truths in old Asian religions. There is this connection to people in general, also artist. I feel like everyone is an artist (I feel people don’t nurture that part of them). I feel like there is this faith that’s connects people to what they create. It is rewarding to me because it shows nothing was a mistake. That is what is the most rewarding to me is my faith in it and my excitement.
CA: How do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for? Kara: That is the question that has been in my head since I was young. I think about this every day. I want people to know while I’m here what I’m doing. Also when I’m gone, I want people to find all this stuff they have ever seen. They always say artists blow up after they die (I want a solid career while I’m alive). I want people to fall in love still. I don’t care if it costs a million dollars and I don’t care if it is at a garage sale for a dollar with my name on it. I want them to fall in love with what I did for as long as it lasts. For as long as my imprint lasts.
CA: What is the best advice you can give someone with a strong desire to do art like yourself? Kara: I give them the same advice my father gave me. If that is what you really want to do, it is no longer a hobby. It has to be in everything you do. You have to be obsessed with it. Especially in art, what you put into it is what you get out. Make your life, a life of art.