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Junior Kevin Yang Explores Concept Art on Successful Instagram Page

This is a piece from Yang’s accepted 2019 CSSSA portfolio, where he wanted to explore some of the negative aspects of social media and electronics.

by Staff Writers Anvi Kalucha & Tanisha Srivatsa

Junior Kevin Yang is a talented artist and the owner of a highly successful Instagram art page with over 4,000 followers.

This is a picture of one of Kevin’s portraits of John Carrasco, which he did at Ichen Art Academy at a workshop held by Oliver Sin. In the photo, Kevin poses with the portrait and the model.

A 2019 alumnus of the prestigious California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), Yang works mostly as a concept artist designing illustrations for movies and video games, hoping to eventually pursue it as a career. 

Yang first became interested in the visual arts at the age of 3 after his grandfather introduced him to traditional Chinese painting. Years later, he credits his grandfather as one of his primary artistic inspirations. He also admires the work of painter John Singer Sargent and Ichen Art Academy instructor Oliver Sin, who Yang learns charcoal drawing from. Besides traditional Chinese painting, Yang also enjoys charcoal drawing and oil painting. “I self-taught myself how to do oil painting because a lot of art classes are super expensive. I … watched YouTube videos of Bob Ross paintings and based it off of that,” he said.

This is an oil painting that Yang completed in 2019 for Mother’s Day. It features a large pink rose on a green background.

In 2019, Yang was accepted into California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), a  month-long residential arts summer training camp located at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, as a student of their Visual Arts program with a major in Painting and a minor in Digital Media. At CSSSA, students take courses in figure drawing, design, and arts culture, and choose specific majors such as printmaking or ceramics to specialize in during the program.  “CSSSA was an amazing experience because I was able to meet so many people who shared the same interests as me… and explore more outside of my comfort zone and just have fun with art,” he said.

Yang was involved with children’s theater organization Galaxy Art Group for two years, assisting with their annual Galaxy Children’s Theatre Company productions in 2017 and 2018. His experiences designing the set and backdrops there inspired him to go into concept art, as the field involves creating detailed landscapes and scenery for video games and movies. He also competes in art contests and won a gold medal at the All-American Youth Chinese Brush Painting and Calligraphy Competition and a silver medal at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Yang said, “[Competing] was pretty daunting since I saw all of the submissions and they were really good and by really skilled artists… but when painting, I feel like the most important part is giving the painting a mood or a feeling, and that helps a lot with the contests.”

Yang posts many of his portfolio pieces on his successful Instagram art page, which has over 4,000 followers. “I started this account 3 or 4 years ago. It took a really long time to build [4,000] followers. I was stuck at 200 followers for a really long time, but I remained pretty active on Instagram and that helped,” he said.

This is a photo of Kevin with one of his art pieces, which is another portrait of John Carrasco at Ichen Art Academy.

In the future, Yang hopes to pursue his dream of becoming a concept artist for the entertainment industry at an art school. He is currently developing a portfolio for the Illustrators of the Future Scholarship Contest and for the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, where he hopes to enter the Entertainment Design program. 

Despite the stigmas surrounding pursuing art as a career, Yang hopes to inspire other artists to follow their dreams and just have fun with their art, whether it be through traditional canvas art or through posting pieces on social media platforms. “I feel like there’s this stigma of a starving artist where if you become an artist, you won’t be able to make a living… but nowadays, the art industry is really big because there is a demand for concept art for movies and stuff,” he said. “Just have fun with it… since art is pretty meditative and it’s a way to release stress.”

Artwork courtesy of Kevin Yang

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