Michelle Lee

Your work seems to be from another era, similar to the work of Paul Outerbridge, is this deliberate or by chance?
Definitely by chance but I really appreciate how well he uses colors in his images. Colors are very important to me and I try to make full use of it in my work. I do believe that colors play a big role in expressing emotions and thoughts.

Have you explored other art mediums or was photography a simple choice for you?
When I was younger, I made handcrafts to be sold in school and was interested in graphic/ packaging design. I took a diploma course in interactive media, worked for 1 year and realized that it really wasn’t me at all. I didn’t like being stuck behind the computer the whole time. I left the company and worked in a commercial photography studio and that’s when I realized that photography was my true calling.

What highlights have you had in your artistic career so far?
I would say that winning an award during the graduation night was a big surprise. It was gratifying because I was so terrified during my first year of university. I didn’t know what aperture and shutter meant and thought I wasn’t going to make it through the first year.

Photography is a medium which has been slow to be accepted as an artistic medium by collectors in Australia, has that been the case for you?
To be honest, I have lived and grown up in Malaysia my whole life except for my studies at RMIT so I cannot answer this question but this is the case in my country. It’s an up and coming medium accepted by fine art collectors in Malaysia but it’s happening slowly. Over here, commercial photography is much bigger than fine art photography.

Is your work purely artistic or do you do more “commercial work” too?
At university, we had the opportunity to work on personal work so I took the chance to work on purely artistic work; work I felt was ‘me’. But at the same time, I tried to inject a little commercial finishing to my work. I like the finish of commercial work but I like the conceptual part of artistic work. So, it’s a little bit of both but I definitely lean more towards fine art work and would like to pursue it as a career.
You have a website, has this added to the interest in your work?
It definitely helps when I’m talking to people who want to take a look at my work there and then. I think having a website is very important even if you are just a student. It shows people you are very focused and passionate about what you do. When people see that, they have a stronger inclination to want to work with you. With the digital era now, a website is a very important marketing tool. It reaches places where the ‘physical you’ can’t and that could open up some windows of opportunity. You never know!

Do you have gallery representation in a number of galleries or just one?
I am going to be exhibiting at Obscura Gallery for a month but I would love to be represented by fine art galleries. I’m an Artist and I value other people who are experts in that area of art.

What can you tell us about your time as a student, were you an “arty” creative type or a “technical” type?
I think I was more technical than arty, but I was only technical when it came to lighting. I had no interest in fancy gear at the time. I majored in studio photography and it usually required a lot of concentration on technical lighting. I also majored in portraiture, which mainly evolves around a concept or a story. It was a good balance to have majored in both subjects because collectively, it taught me photography is about lighting but the essence of a photograph is in the concept. It’s very important to balance both art and technique.

Who have been the most influential artists or photographers for you?
I like artists/ photographers who use surrealism or have really strong aesthetics (composition and color) in their work. I also tend to get drawn to people who produce work, which is very ‘gentle’ and ‘quiet’. For photographers, these are a few of my favourites: Andre Kertesz, Sarah Moon, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Julie Blackmon, Helen Blomqvist and Namiko Kitaura. I like female illustrators who emphasise the female form and beauty like Audrey Kawasaki and Eriko Yamashiro. I absolutely love Mark Ryden’s use of colours.

Is there anything you would like to tell readers about your influences or environmental factors (like where you live) you believe are important to know?
I think my parents’ influences rubbed off on me from a very young age because unconsciously, I was probably absorbing the artwork they hung on the walls and the design-based objects they had at home. That kind of environment teaches one to appreciate art in all forms. Coming from an Asian country and being an Asian myself, we are taught it’s important to work hard. Also, it’s essential to remain inspired and positive; something,which is very important to new artists. It’s hard to create when the soul is broken.

What do you hope a viewer will “get” from looking at your work?
I want them to be attracted to the particular piece of work. ‘Attraction’ is just unexplainable but absolutely fantastic. You see something and you go, “oh” and then you get attracted and sometimes you don’t know why, then comes the “what, why, how, when, who” questions and it’s fine if they decide they don’t like it very much after all. I am hoping for them to experience this kind of process. Besides, my work is very much about how I feel so it’s always interesting to find out if the viewers are able to sense the particular emotions I felt through a piece of work because interpretation is often subjective.

What advice would you give to an Art Student starting out after University?
You must know what you want in life. Leaving university, a lot of us fall into this “what should I do now?” scenario because all of a sudden after 3 years in university, we don’t have time tabled classes and no assessment criteria to fulfil. From there, it’s all up to ourselves. We have to know what we want in life and work towards that goal with a short term and long term goal. Even if the plans don’t work out, it’s okay as long as you tried your best and remained focused.

Artists Statement
“My work explores the feelings of frustrations, conformity, eccentricity, dreams and ideals of everyday living by using allegorical narratives. Emotions and thoughts are very important. These two elements are the fundamentals of our everyday lives. Sometimes, they are over-consuming and complex, temporarily blinding the conscious state of mind. My work acts like a journal, projecting existing strong emotions I am feeling during the time of conceptualisation. I visually express myself with my work, unconsciously creating a contradictory state of complex emotions and simple aesthetics.”
Michelle Lee.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

The Tribe…

‘The Tribes’ mission is to allow creative people; Artists, Musicians and designers to share their ideas and creations and turn them into a commercial reality. The concept is to bringing together innovators, early adopters and investors to allow a unique opportunity for anybody to submit their ideas and gain guidance and security. Think of it as an online Dragons Den without the judgement and yelling! Everybody’s ideas are considered and can benefit from the advice of ‘The Tribe’ community.

‘The Tribe’ will be holding regular competitions to encourage talented individuals to generate new ideas, concepts and artistic projects. The first competition launching on the 22nd September 2010 will be a worldwide design competition. This will be a fantastic opportunity for designers, artists and creatives of all types to submit their ideas for; the first prize is an amazing £10,000!

We also have a website and facebook page if you’d like to check them out.



Many Thanks,


The Creative Brain and How It Works – Applied Neuroscience

“The Creative Brain and How It Works – Applied Neuroscience” With Silvia Damiano and Ralph Kerle |

Date: Monday August 9, 2010

Venue: University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Jones Street, Ultimo corner Thomas Street. Room 5.580 Level 5, Building 10, Take the lift to level 5, cross the atrium foot bridge, walk straight ahead to room 580.

Time: From 5:30pm to 7:30pm sharp | No RSVP – Just turn up

There is a body of theories and papers starting to emerge in neuroscience around how our brain works creatively. This body of work suggests if you can be more aware of how your brain works in a context that calls upon creative endeavor, you will be able to alter your thinking or adjust your actions, in the process becoming more aware of your own creative praxis and how you can comfortably and confidently contribute your best to creative collaboration – an awareness that can be knowledgeably sustained and improved over time.

In this highly experiential session, participants will undertake a creative team challenge using a theoretical framework and an arts based process to test this hypothesis in practice. Through this process, you will observe and discern your own creative preferences and biases!!