His illustrations are molded with raw emotion, beauty and an inescapable aura of curiosity yet 20 year old Hieu only just recently switched to studying a degree in Animation & Interactive Media after previously studying two years of Physiotherapy. With his works already exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria and his winning design appearing on a national, iconic Australian matchbox brand, there is no doubt this awe-inspiring young artist is one to watch!

What’s the meaning behind your alias ‘kelogsloops’?

It honestly started as a silly name I created as a child, and there’s not much meaning behind the name. It started out when I had to create an online username for something, and at that very moment I was eating a bowl of Kelloggs’ Froot Loops… yeah

I really wish I had a more meaningful or exciting story, but the name just stuck with me as I grew up and kept using it as an alias to a point where I can’t really imagine myself no longer as ‘kelogsloops’

For how long have you had this passion for art? When did you first get into illustration?

I grew up being ‘that arty kid’, so art’s always been my biggest passion and hobby from way back as a child. It wasn’t really until the past few years, once I graduated from high school, that I began to take my art more seriously and decided to really work and commit towards making a name for myself.

Do you have any formal education in visual arts?

Prior to this March, nothing. I’ve always wanted to study visual arts, but never really found any opportunities to take ‘art classes’.

Your work is quite ethereal with a hell lot of emotion. What or who influences you?

To name a few of my biggest inspirations, easily Wenqing Yan, Alice X Zhang, Lois van Baarle, Anna Dittman and Audrey Kawasaki. They’re all incredibly talented masters of their own craft, but each of them has a unique quality and aspect that makes them so inspiring. One thing that these artists have in common though is their ability to portray an emotion, mood or feeling that feels as if each artwork of theirs has its own unique story and background the kind of work that compels you to stop and think. It’s this very aspect that I like to be able to reflect in my work, drawing mostly from my own personal experiences, memories and feelings that I have or currently undergo growing up.

Female portraits play a huge role in your illustrations. What is it about the female subject that inspires you?

There’s a quality about the female subject that’s hard to explain, but I guess it comes down to the capacity for the female figure to represent and communicate certain aesthetic qualities, moods and emotions. The way the curves can create a sense of rhythm and flow, or the way hair can move and weave through space, or even the slightest change of expression to portray a spectrum of emotions.

What materials or equipment do you enjoy using the most?

Hands down, watercolour and digital painting (via a Wacom tablet)! Of late though, I’ve become a  lot more involved with watercolour; the more I explore it, the more I fall in love with it!

Could you take us through your creative process?

Often my creative process begins with a single concept, which can be an image in my mind, a song in my head or even a mood. I usually start with sketches and work upwards from there. It’s a little hard to define my whole process as it varies so often, but typically with watercolour I like to work in layers of mixed media, building up colours, depth and detail to create a final piece.

How does it feel or what do you feel when you are illustrating?

It’s hard to explain, but when you’re in ‘the zone’, you forget everything and feel immersed in a single objective and mood, which is often unhealthy because you forget how hungry you are, how tired you are or what time it really is. But the best way to describe it I guess, is that it’s peaceful.

Other than art, what else are you passionate about?

Besides from art, I’d like to consider myself passionate about music, dance and travel! I’ve always loved creating music, but also enjoying it of course, similarly with dance.

What style of music do you like the listen to when you are creating?

It honestly varies. I can go from listening to Porter Robinson (electronic dance), to film & game soundtracks, and both will still put me in a mood to create.

Congratulations on your growing following on social media. How have platforms such as Instagram and DeviantArt impacted you?

At first, I was always terrified of sharing my work on social platforms like deviantArt and Instagram. It’s a scary thing to expose yourself and put your heart and soul in public for the world to see. You get critiqued and there are people out there who will relentlessly do so, but it’s good because it helps you break yourself down in a way, so that you can get up and continue improving. Especially in a platform like DeviantArt, where majority of the users are artists or art-lovers, it encourages you to constantly get better and it builds a form of self confidence. Social media in general, can be such a lethal and dangerous thing to get caught up with, but it’s opened up so many opportunities and has helped me get to where I am today.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years’ time, I’d like to be able to see myself having completed my studies and working in a studio, as well as hopefully being able to exhibit as an artist and have my own solo show by then!

And to wrap it up, what is a quote or motto that you live by?

This is the very quote/motto that I made the day I decided to commit everything towards this dream,

“be right back, chasing dreams”

Chih-Wei Chiu

Chih-Wei Chiu