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Neo Folk explores the work of artists in Asia who have been rediscovering their roots and traditional crafts, by remixing and creating images ins… Read More
Neo Folk explores the work of artists in Asia who have been rediscovering their roots and traditional crafts, by remixing and creating images inspired by their heritage. As a reaction to the bland souvenir art that is widely available at airports and tourist shops, these artists are using the same visual language of their ancestors to create a commentary on contemporary Asian culture and society. We bring you some weird and wonderful creations from artists in Thailand, Singapore, China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Indonesia and more, who are dictating the future directions of Asian creativity. We hope you enjoy discovering Neo Folk. Read Less
Published:
Cover: Issue #07 - Neo Folk
Artist: Mojoko
Country: Singapore
Website: www.mojoko.net
Artist: Andrea Wan
Country: Canada
Website: www.andreawan.com

Andrea is a Chinese-Canadian artist born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver. Her interest in illustration developed from improvising stories about various animals and recording them onto tapes as a child. She attended Emily Carr University of Art & Design, where she received a degree in Film and Integrated Media. With a strong passion in image making and story telling, she went on to study illustration and design in Denmark. Wan is currently working as a visual artist and illustrator in Vancouver.
Artist: Anjo Bollarda
Country: Philippines
Website: www.200-70.com

Anjo Bolarda is an illustrator based in Manila, Philippines. His illustrations are a combined expression of street art, adult graphics and typography. Bolarda's works take place in an imaginary world, a space that he shares with Dum Gun Juju, who is one of the artists' alter egos. Bolarda's works have been featured in various design blogs and magazines in Europe and US, including Lost at E minor, Blanket Magazine, Artist Inspired and Computer Arts UK.

Artist: Budi Kwan
Country: Indonesia
Website: www.budikwan.com

Budi Kwan is a Singapore-based graphic designer from Indonesia. His illustrations have graced hundreds of T-shirts, which led to the creation of Concrete Rocket, an online T-shirt store that Kwan founded with his brother. To date, he has been commissioned for illustrations by the likes of Yahoo, Tiger Beer, Urban Outfitters, Threadless, and various large and independent clothing stores.

Artist: Charwei Tsai
Country: Taipei
Website: www.charwei.com

Charwei Tsai was born in Taiwan and presently lives and works between Paris, New York and Taipei. In addition to her art practice, Tsai publishes Lovely Daze, a contemporary art periodical released biannually. Tsai has held solo exhibitions in Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Bogota. Her projects have been included in various international exhibitions, including J'en Reve at Fondation Cartier, Paris, France (2005), Singapore Biennale (2006), Yokohama Triennale (2011) and Rhurtriennale (2011).
Artist: Chen Hangfeng
Country: China
Website: www.chenhangfeng.com

Chen Hangfeng is a Shanghai based visual artist. He works with a variety of media, including digital graphics, illustrations, paper cut, sculpture, installation, photography, video and performance art. His work is concerned with ideas such as commercialization, environmentalism, globalization and cultural transmutation. He realizes these ideas through playful metaphor; merging concepts and mediums in a manner not unlike an alchemist. Chen Hangfeng sees the role of an artist as 'a present day incarnation of ancient philosophers, artisans and literati'.
Artist: Darbotz
Country: Indonesia
Website: thedarbotz.com

Darbotz is known by his squid character, named cumi. Cumi is an alter ego for the artist, who uses him as a brave face to conquer the chaos that is Jakarta, Indonesia, where he lives and works. Influenced by hip-hop culture, Darbotz also produces merchandise and clothing that features Cumi outside of his usual street environment. Cumi has also caught the eye of big brands such as Google Chrome and Nike, with whom Darbotz has collaborated with.
Artist: Dina Gadia
Country: Philippines
Website: dinagadia.blogspot.sg

With a background in advertising as a graphic designer, Dina Gadia knows what people want - and deliver she does, in the language of cult film posters from the 1930s to the 70s, comic books and delivered in a Pop Art-inspired collage explosion. Though her inspirations are in B-movies, her fine draughtsmanship deserves an A plus. Gadia lives and works in Quezon City, Philippines.
Artist: Eko Nugroho
Country: Indonesia
Website: ekonugroho.or.id
 
Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho's comic inspired work questions the nature of Man, our contradictory and ironic nature and the absurdity of life in general. Eko works across disciplines and sites, making public murals, exhibiting paintings and drawings, while exploring the possibilities of other media such as embroidery, artist books, comics, video animation and contemporary wayang kulit (shadow puppet) - in his own capacity and collaboratively.
Artist: Elephant Xiang
Country: China
Website: twitter.com/Elephant

Shanghai-based Elephant Xiang is renowned for his unique blend of traditional Chinese crafts and contemporary art. Xiang's work is heavily inspired by street art and urban graphics: Tang-dynasty style patterns and Buddhist Mandala circles are placed alongside turntables, sneakers and other symbols of street culture. Elephant is a creative designer and illustrator at the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, which allows him to leave his distinctly Chinese imprint on the visual identities of clients from Coca-Cola to Nike.
Artist: Hiroki Otsuka
Country: Japan
Website: www.pirontan.com
 
A professional comic book illustrator since 1994, Brooklyn based Japanese artist and illustrator Hiroki Otsuka honed his craft by drafting and inking comic book cells for a variety of projects. He began illustrating for a number of major Japanese publications in 2004. In 2005, Otsuka's focus shifted from graphic to fine arts, working predominantly with traditional sumi ink used in Japanese calligraphy.
Artist: Howie Tsui
Country: USA
Website: Artist: www.howietsui.com
 
Hong Kong born Howie Tsui is known for his "suspended adolescence" artistic approach. The University of Waterloo Fine Arts degree holder is currently working on music and art projects in Ottawa, Canada. Tsui has exhibited in Ottawa, Toronto, Chicago, San Jose, San Francisco, Sydney, Los Angeles and New York. His work has appeared in publications such as Beautiful/Decay, Mix Magazine, Faesthetic and Semi-Permanent.
Artist: JamWu
Country: Taiwan
Website: www.jamwu.com
 
Taiwanese-born Jam Wu, aka. Geng-Zhen Wu, is a poet, photographer, stage designer and visual artist. Wu's works stem from the themes and craft of Chinese folk art and address the possibilities of contemporary art in relation to traditional aesthetics. In 2006, he won the Emerging Artist grant from Taiwan•s renowned dance troupe, Cloud Gate. This opportunity allowed Wu to travel and research in northwest China. During his travels, he was inspired by Chinese folk art, eastern philosophy and religion.
Artist: Jason Raish
Country: Korea
Website: www.jasonraish.com
 
Raish was born in Seoul, South Korea and is now based in the United States. He is inspired by kung fu, low brow art and Asian culture. His illustrations have been commissioned by brands worldwide such as Wall St Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, Coca-Cola, Tiger Beer and Saatchi and Saatchi.
Artist: Jonny Wan
Country: UK
Website: www.jonnywan.com

Jonny Wan is an illustrator based in the UK. A graduate of the Manchester School of Art, he works independently, illustrating for a broad range of clients within advertising, editorial, publishing, and fashion. His work shows an exceptional attention to detail and his work is inspired as much by ancient cultures as urban art.
Artist: Kim Joon
Country: Korea
Website: kimjoon.co.kr

Kim Joon, born in 1966 in Seoul, is a renowned contemporary artist, a professor at•Kongju National University in Korea and is a former soldier in the Korean military. Joon•s latest body of work explores the idea of the tattoo - a major taboo in Korea - as an expression of secret desires and hidden pain. Joon has held solo exhibitions in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Paris.
Artist: Kuanth
Country: Singapore
Website: www.kuanth.com
 
Kuanth counts art and design as his absolute passion. After toiling for five years in the publishing and advertising industries, Kuanth took a bold step forward to become a freelance illustrator in 2002. He also went on to sew some clothes, make a few dolls, daydream a little (a lot), exhibit some work and raise a lovely boy named Noody (woof!). Kuanth loves old stuff with a story and flea markets are his favourite treasure-hunting wonderland for gems and inspirations.
Artist: Lio Yeung
Country: Hong Kong
Website: www.illlio.com

Lio is a Hong Kong-based designer, whose work as an art director has earned him numerous prizes at One Show, Cannes, D&AD and TDC in Japan. In 2009, he was awarded the Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award and offered a scholarship to work in Studio Dumbar in Netherlands. Yeung founded Art-Glossary magazine with Masa Inaba in 2011 to create a platform for artists and designers as a forum for artists.
Artist: Mariko Jesse
Country: UK
Website: www.marikojesse.com
 
Mariko was brought up in Hong Kong and UK. After graduating from Central St Martins School of Art in London she now spends her time moving between Asia and Europe. Her name means 'ten thousand mile child' as her parents thought that she would always be far from her birthplace. Being from a mixed background (Japanese Mother & English Father) her work explores identity and mixed heritage, often using patterns in images and mixing traditional image-making processes with modern technologies. She is currently an Associate lecturer at Central St Martins.
Artist: Mojoko
Country: Singapore
Website: www.mojoko.net

Born in Iran, raised in Hong Kong and now based in Singapore, Steve Lawler, a.k.a Mojoko is most at home playing critic to our daily dependencies on computers and technologies. He expresses his thoughts through various unorthodox artists' tools such as the publishing of his own free magazine, Kult, guerilla exhibitions, sculptures and fashion projects.
Artist: Motomichi
Country: USA
Website: www.motomichi.com

Motomichi is an artist from Brooklyn, NY, whose Japanese roots are expressed in his character designs. He makes animations, flash games, paintings and he performs as a VJ. All his work is populated with meticulously designed creatures, each one with their own distinct personality. Representing the perfect union of opposing forces like good and evil, darkness and light, he uses only black, red and white graphic elements.With these elements he creates powerful visual statements about the world we live in.
Artist: Munkao
Country: Malaysia
Website: munkao.com
 
Malaysian-born Munkao's art is almost always humorous but the solid craftsmanship reflects serious skill, effort and direction. Common themes in his latest works include space, science fiction and popular figures in Asian culture. Munkao's latest collection, titled 'Diaspora Anxiety', is the retelling and harmonizing of icons familiar to Asian American pop culture, combined with Asia's changing geopolitical realities.
Artist: Nod Young
Country: China
Website: www.nodyoung.com
 
Nod Young is a visual artist specializing in digital design and visual arts. Young's art is a combination of traditional Chinese aesthetics and contemporary graphics. His works have gained commercial success and worked with many international clients including Nike, Coca Cola, Microsoft and Green Peace. Nod is also actively involved in various art-related projects as an independent designer and is planning to publish a book together with Tsinghua University Press at the end of 2011.
Artist: Pakkanat Tanprayoon
Country: Thailand
Website: www.pakkanat.com
 
Pakkanat Tanprayoon is a Thailand based Art Director with a decade of design experience. His background in advertising led him to explore an alternative creative outlet which led to the creation of his independent shop "Well Done Bangkok". His work explores creating mythology and ancient symbols out of found clothes and accessories.
Artist: Qian Qian
Country: China
Website: www.q2design.com
 
Qian Qian is a graphic artist and designer born in Chengdu, China and currently based in New York City. One of the '20 under 30 New Visual Artists' by Print magazine, his work has appeared in many international design publications. Qian Qian has exhibited his work in the V&A Museum in London and the Lincoln Center in New York. He is profiled at apple.com as one of its creative pros.
Artist: Redslim08
Country: Philippines
Website: cargocollective.com/redslim08

Roseller Velez a.k.a. redslim08 is a freelance visual artist, illustrator, graphic designer and slum photographer. Born in Iloilo, Philippines in 1986, he lives and works in Las Pinas, Philippines.
Artist: Room 99
Country: Malaysia
Website: room-99.blogspot.sg
 
Tan Howe Qin is a Malaysian artist currently working in Kuala Lumpur. Trained in Graphic Design he operates under the moniker of Room99. His illustrations are modern interpretations of Chinese opera art. By mixing the traditional with modern elements, he creates new lifeforms which are fresh and unique.
Artist: Sam Seen
Country: Thailand
Website: www.samseen.multiply.com
 
Bangkok-based Malaysian artist Sam Seen works in various creative fields as a cartoonist, graphic designer, poet and writer. He has published 3 books: Take Light as Food (poetry), Strait of Johore (short stories), China X'perience (graphic novel). His illustrations have been featured in various graphic novels, compilations and exhibitions.
Artist: Seungyea Park
Country: Korea
Website: blog.yahoo.com/artpark
 
Seungyea Park was born in Seoul, South Korea. Upon receiving a degree from Southampton Long Island University, Park moved back to Seoul Korea where he works and lives. Park's works are mainly in portraiture, in which he claims to depict two monsters: 'one that is inside of me, and another outside of me'.
Artist: Sokkuan Tye
Country: Singapore
Website: sokkuan.blogspot.sg

After graduating from The One Academy of Communication Design in Kuala Lumpur, Sokkuan ran into the loving arms of Singapore, where she served as an art director at Ogilvy & Mather before finding her calling as an illustrator. Sokkuan has put down her pen temporarily and picked up her sewing needle to move into hand-stitched illustration in an attempt to express her self through this therapeutic medium that is at once beautiful and textured.
Artist: Stephen Chan
Country: UK
Website: www.stephen-chan.co.uk
 
Stephen Chan is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Liverpool. Chan began to develop his unique and detailed illustration style in 2007 after finishing his degree and he is mainly self-taught. "I try to implement as much detail and make the illustration as fun and interesting as possible," he says. "My work is character driven and often involves large, isometric detailed landscapes and scenery."
Artist: Sun Lee Siew Loo
Country: Singapore
Website: growwithsun.com
 
Sun Lee Siew Loo is an illustrator and photographer based in Singapore. Her illustrations are an exploration into pen and ink drawing techniques, drawing inspiration from evolution, space, patterns, animals, humans and nature. Sun•s art works have been featured in Culturepush, RojakSite, RYZ, Shirtlog and she is also one of the Founding 15 Artists on 9 Fountains.
Artist: TeamLab
Country: Japan
Website: team-lab.net
 
Team-Lab are an interactive group of artists hailing from Japan who recently showcased at Venice Biennale in 2011. Their work explores historic Japanese mythological paintings, bringing them to life using new technology. This series entitled "Flower & Corpse" takes ancient flat paintings of their forefathers and by animating them in a three dimensional space, giving new perspectives to the original work.
Artist: Tsang Kinwah
Country: Hong Kong
Website: tsangkinwah.com

After earning a degree from Camberwell College of the Arts and attending the London Institute, Tsang Kin-Wah lives and works in Hong Kong. His work explores the fine line between the beauty and the grotesque. Using typography as his medium, he creates offensive, vulgar statements and presents them as wallpaper inspired designs. This idea has taken him to great scales including exhibits at KIASMA in Helsinki and MORI Art Museum in Tokyo.
Artist: Tsz Wan
Country: UK
Website: www.tszontoast.com
 
Tsz Wan studied graphic and media design in Hong Kong and is currently based in England where she works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.
Artist: Uji Handoko
Country: Indonesia
Website: hahan.blogspot.sg

Uji Handoko - also known as Hahan - creates artwork that in a highly graphic, maximalist and often psychedelic style. Born 1983, in Kebumen Central Java, Indonesia, he completed his studies at the Indonesian Institute of Art, Jogjakarta. He calls his own style a "Youth Trans-Contemporary Agraris", which blends cartoon imagery and comic idiom. He claims that music and visuals are interchangeable, evident in his membership in musical projects such as Black Ribbon, Hengky Strawberry and celebrated art-rock band Punkasila.
Artist: XiaoBaoSg
Country: Singapore
Website: mi50.blogspot.sg

Xiao Bao Sg, also known as William Chua, is a freelance illustrator based in Singapore. Chua•s work is inspired and influenced by Chinese and Japanese folk tales. His technical skill has seen him create tutorials for the release of Adobe CS4 and his illustrations have been commissioned by Tiger Beer, Chinatown Singapore and showcased in international art exhibitions and events. He has also been featured in various publications such as Imagine FX, Synk Magazines Australia and Computer Arts Projects.
Artist: Yoskay Yamamoto
Country: Japan
Website: yoskay.com
 
Born and raised in Toba, Japan, Yoskay Yamamoto moved to the United States at the age of 15. A self-trained illustrator, Yamamoto's artistic tastes expanded as he fell in love with the urban culture of the West coast. Yamamoto discovered a way to fuse the two different cultural backgrounds together into his work. Yamamoto nostalgically blends iconic pop characters from his new Western home with traditional and mythical Japanese elements, balancing his Asian heritage with urban pop art.
Artist: Yuji Moriguchi
Country: Japan
Website: www.moriguchiyuji.com
 
Tokyo-based Yuji Moriguchi graduated from Kyoto Seika University, Department of Design and Cartoon in 1994. Inspired by ukiyo-e, Yoriguchi paints scenes from daily life and stylizes them with a sense of psychedelic surreality. His works depict a frank but somehow innocent eroticism: sailor suited school girls, octopuses, squids, dolls, fantasy animals and demons are all part of his illustrated repertoire, engaged in a scene that is slightly unnerving but undeniably alluring.