Allison Oh is a multifaceted artist, whose interest in all mediums has drawn her into the StoryForge team. Her inspiring work pushes the boundaries of creative expression and paves the way for her fellow storytellers. Find @AllisonAerie on Twitter, or see her Tumblr and Pintrest for more!
What launched your artistic journey and how have you grown from then until now?
My mom would joke that my artistic journey was launched during my 100-day ceremony. It’s a Korean tradition that on the 100th day after your baby is born, you dress her up and sit her in front of a table full of symbolic items that predict what your child will do with her life. I apparently went straight for the color pencils and have been crafting and creating in a multitude of mediums ever since.
My penchants for acquiring and working with new artistic mediums (drawing, painting, photography, costumes, animation, soft-sculpture..) has meant my growth as an artist has been more outward than forward—like the spread of tree roots as opposed to the growth of the trunk. My time in school and the years since graduation have been spent trying to balance ‘honing a skill’ to an acceptable level of mastery while still experimenting and playing with new ways of expressing ideas in material form. My growth and development as an artist has occurred as I’ve continued to struggle with that balance: not letting my desire to play with new ‘toys’ become too great a distraction, and instead finding ways to incorporate everything I’ve learned into my current project.
How would you describe your style and inspirations?
I would usually say my style is, broadly, illustrative? My work, no matter the medium, is usually trying to give physical expression to an idea, concept, or narrative—as opposed to exploring the medium for its own sake (such as abstract painting).
Some of my inspirations*: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Alphonse Mucha, photographers Cindy Sherman, Jen Davis,** Jennifer McClure, Julia Fullerton Batten,** Sculptor/Installation artists Do-ho Suh, Shintaro Ohata, Jun Young Yu.
What is your role in StoryForge?
I’m part graphic designer, part illustrator, part photographer, and documenter-of-social-events. Also if someone needs clothing altered or something new made for a sketch or a movie mini-series—or just needs a button put back on a shirt, I do that too.
How do you tell stories through your art?
This is tricky—sometimes, I tell stories through my art in a very traditional manner. If I’m animating a story, or illustrating a story, I’ll create images that line up with the text in a way that enhances it, but doesn’t replace or compete with it. But when I’m making my art independent of a written story, then I’ll often try to ‘tell’ a story through allusions or by deliberately removing pieces of information to create a kind of ‘narrative vacuum’ that tempts viewers to ask ‘what happened before and after this image/object/moment?’
I’ve seen hints of your work with pins and pendants—could you tell me about that? Any plans for developing those further?
I’m not sure how much I can talk about the pendants just yet—they’re definitely in development and I’m working with Rachel to get the short-stories written up to go with each pendant. They’ll get released in May, I think.
But I can at least explain that I’m experimenting with ‘narrative jewelry.’ Each pendant is paired with a piece of microfiction—a different story for each type of pendant that all work together to half-tell a larger story. In this cast, these animals are the shadowy memories of a traveling circus, and their stories allude to, but never explain, why the circus is no more and what became of everyone.
These pendants serve as illustrations, but in a sense, I’m hoping to also imbue them with a story-quality of their own. I chose the silhouette design specifically to evoke the idea of a shadow, or impaired vision, or even a dream-state where you’re left with only impressions rather than clear memories.
Again, I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to talk about the pendants, but that’s my explanation for what’s going on there. I guess we can tell people to look for more details in the coming months!
*Note: Content may not always be g-rated.
**Nudity warning. As Allison says, “I can’t make any promises that they won’t run into naked people…