All posts by Norm Yip

“Le tourbillon de la vie”: an excerpt of my life as a visual artist living in Hong Kong

Every now and again I create a small pdf of my recent artworks that I’ve created, along with few other selected artworks. It allows me to relook at works at a certain distance and to also see what really speaks to me; I only include the ones I really like in the mini portfolio. In this case, the newest pieces are the ones that really shine and speak to me.

The first section is called “Le tourbillon de la vie” or rather ‘the whirlwind of life’. They are bright, large colourful canvases filled with large vigorous brushstrokes and gestures. They are free and lively. The inspiration and influence are actually from my own artworks as I relooked at my own Ode to New York paintings, which was created shortly after my visit to the city in 2016. I was determined to reinvestigate the same energy that was encoded into those artworks but with the added dimension of both uplifting and depressing recent experiences in my life.

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Above: Le tourbillon de la vie, No. 2, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 140cm. Available for purchase.
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Above: Ode to New York, No. 21, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 140cm. (This painting is on reserve.)

The following section called ‘Hard:Rewired’ are ones I created during my rebellious mode while recovering from a dog bite. I was angry inside both at myself, the dog and the dog’s owner. I wanted some kind of retribution, but without having to go to serious means. It was bottled-up inside me and through the artwork, I was able in some way to release it to the universe (well, here being on thick card paper). The work that was created during those few weeks helped me experience and explore a different side of myself and artwork. One artwork which I call ‘Molecules’ of Emotion is a direct influence by the writings of Candace Pert, a neuroscientist who believes that the mind and body are intricately connected. Because she believes in spirituality, her work is not taken too seriously within the hard-core scientific community. I actually love her work. Candace thought emotions were stored in the body, at the receptors, and that healthy communication via emotional expression was key to integrating the mind and the body. (http://candacepert.com/)

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Above: Molecules of Emotion, 2017. Mixed-media on card, 61 x 51cm. Available for purchase.

In the last section of the pdf, I included some of my old graphite artworks. I still love them. They are meditative and spiritual. Yes, somewhat austere and minimal, but beautiful, if you can see them up close. My artwork is for sale and available for art leasing to those in Hong Kong.

Norm Yip

http://normyip.com

 

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The Making of ‘Sending Love’….

 

After a meeting with a lady yesterday discussing art, she told me that one of their main projects was creating art with the intention of sending love. I have never created art with intentions in mind; it is always about my own inward experiences and feelings, or about expressing an emotion or concept. So here is my first attempt and thinking and affirming the words ‘sending love’ and sending it out into the universe. I hope you like it.

Sending Love, 2017. Acrylic on paper, 59 x 42cm.

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THE REAL TIPS on Photographing the Male Nude from Scratch by Norm Yip (Part 2)

[Originally published in MOXIE ASIA http://moxie.asia)

1. Where to scout for guys? I do not scout for guys at the bars or clubs; I think it comes off as a bit sleazy and a bad excuse to actually be picking them up. I prefer using the internet such as facebook or Instagram. Some other photographers I have spoken to say they have no problem walking up to guys but they seem to rarely become models for me in the end.

2. The Exception to the above is when someone you know at the bar or club introduces you, then it is acceptable. Hence, it’s good to have your work out there so people begin to recognise your work.

3. Name Cards. In the event that you do meet someone at the bar or outside the internet, have some business cards handy. Just pass the guy your card and ask them to contact you. It friendlier, and you hope for the best.

4. The Initial Meeting. Set up an initial meeting to talk in person about the shoot. In the meeting discuss what they are comfortable with shooting. Nude? Semi-nude? Covered? Also, talk about the model release and that they need to sign at the end of the shoot.

5. Sincerity. Be sincere in what you say and do. If you are out there to just meet hotties and using photography as a way of getting into their pants, they will normally see right through it.

6. Be professional, although you are an amateur. The goal of the shoot is to try to get really good images in the way that you imagined it to be. Professionalism when it comes to photographing nudes basically means one thing: NO SEX. So you need to stay away from the thought of getting it on with the model.

7. The Oil-Down. Yes, a bit of baby oil (mineral oil) does wonders on the skin. It is okay to offer the model some help in the application but ask first. There have been instances where the model has preferred to do it by himself. Usually, I oil only the back and help with the legs. Yes, you have to learn to resist yourself.

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8. About the oil. The normal versions seem to be better than the light version in my opinion. I don’t prefer organic oils since they tend to be too viscous, and they get absorbed into the skin toofast and you’ll have to reapply (of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing).

9. Too much excitement. For some guys, they tend to get excited just by the thought of being undress, let alone being nude in front of another guy. Well, this is a good thing and a bad thing. I usually will stop photographing and ask if they want to continue or wait awhile until they calm down.

10. Music helps. Assuming that the shoot is in a studio or home environment, play some music to get you and your model into a good mood. I usually play ambient type music with no vocals.

11. I work alone. I normally do everything from setting up the lights, the backdrop and oil-down. I shoot alone because I find that a helper/assistant a distraction. Unless the model is more experienced, then they might not mind if another person is helping in the room, but I find that I get more of the real person to come out if I’m working alone with him.

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12. Process. I start out with clothing, and then progressively remove clothing. It is better this way since it allows you time to warm up and vice-versa.

13. Duration. How long does a shoot take? Normally, a shoot will last between 2 – 4 hours long, depending on how many ideas I have in mind.

14. Experiment with lighting arrangements and don’t be stuck to strobes. Although many professional photographers shy away from tungsten lights, I have found that it is extremely nice for shooting male bodies. A tungsten light and softbox were all I needed for the majority of shoots I did.

15. Keep moving. For me, I prefer it when the model is constantly moving during the shoot. The movements are not wild and erratic, but small. They are small shifts in the stance, their head direction and position of their hands and legs. Professional models are usually very good at this, although I have seen some become really awkward when they have to pose nude. It’s a challenge.

16. Talk to your model. I have always thought that the best shoots were more like a dance than a conversation. The dance or synergy is between you and the model, an exchange of giving and receiving. What do you talk about? Literally, anything that comes to your mind, but usually, we are talking about the shoot and meanwhile, I am directing the guy at the same time.

17. Follow up. After the shoot has finished and you have processed (post production) the images, you should follow up with sending him the photographs as outlined in your agreement. (See Part 1 ).

Sometimes, I have very little idea of how I am going to approach the shoot. I have a very general idea of how things will go. I do not usually work according to a theme. The element of surprise is rather more interesting.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the shooting.

Norm Yip

The Asian Male Project
Norm Yip Photography

Photographing the Male Nude from Scratch by Norm Yip (Part 1)

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After several emails requesting (or rather, demanding) that I provide insight into how to get started shooting male nudes, I thought I would turn this into an article for my Moxie Asia website. I have provided the basics in this particular write-up, assuming that you don’t own a camera (no, your iPhone doesn’t count as a camera). By the way, the above photograph was taken when I a wee bit more hair, a much younger version of me….

To read the article:
http://www.moxie.asia/photographing-the-male-nude-from-scratch-by-norm-yip-part-1/

MOXIE 02 IS NOW ONLINE

Selfless shameless self-promotion of MOXIE ASIA magazine. I have to get the word out to the world that this exists, and hopefully, it will become a big hit to everyone. So please, if you like MOXIE, do let friends know about it.

 

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MOXIE 02 now available free at http://moxie.asia

 

MOXIE 02 features the masculine and sensual Pop Yeung, a Taiwanese man whose brooding looks are captured by Norm Yip. Adam Photography from Indonesia is MOXIE’s first contributor and offers to us Rony, a stunningly handsome man whose hunky body is a feast for the eyes. Have you ever wanted to know how an affluent businessman operates on a daily basis? THE ROSS FILES is just that: a sneak-peek at where he hangs out and who he hob nobs with. Finally, Malaysian model Derek Chong (a.k.a @greendo) and his adorable cat owns the cover page. Styled by Patryk Chaou and photographed by Norm Yip.

Please Like the MOXIE page: https://www.facebook.com/moxieasia/
Instagram: @moxieasia
Feel free to Share. Spread the news. 🙂

 

The birth of MOXIE

The story behind MOXIE is a long and arduous one. Around the same time last year, I was approached by PUBU, a Taiwanese digital distributor of magazine and books, to introduce my photographic work through their channels. But after months of going back and forth with a badly written contract (well, at least to me it was), nothing came to resolve. My lawyer firmly told me not to sign anything that was so vague and I felt it was the right thing to do.

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A few months ensued and I was then contacted by young banker in Singapore, who was thinking of creating his own digital distribution channel for publications similar in nature to what PUBU was doing. Unfortunately, nearly 4 months went by and nothing seemed to be happening. Was there going to be an app after all? I decided to pull out and wait until the app was running smoothly and some kind of traction was taking place before going further.

I decided that I was going to go ahead with publishing my work publicly and for free, at least to test the waters of this new publication, which I call MOXIE. It was going to be something slightly different than a traditional magazine, but more like a portfolio of photography — a cross-over. Perhaps it is a zine? It sounds cooler. Regardless, here below is what came out of nearly a year of fumbling back and forth over what it was going to be. I gave birth to the publication on July 1, 2017, at 8pm: on one of the busiest days of the year.

If you are interested in contributing to MOXIE, please see the Contributors section.

http://moxie.asia

Closer to Truth: painting or photography? 

Someone asked which one I liked more: painting or photography. I didn’t know the answer. It depends I said.

What I do know after investigating both mediums in my work is this: painting lies closer to truth than photography. Paintings (unless you’re merely copying, but that’s a another discussion) reach deeper into yourself, and who you are. It forces you to ask questions and sometimes does not give you a clear answer. It exposes your insecurities and strengths through your creation. You can analyse every action or reaction in a painting. Strong forceful lines and bold strokes versus tentative light actions. On how you go over a section of the canvas, repeatedly until you ‘get it right’, or whether you have the patience to wait for sections of the painting to dry before applying another layer. Believe me, you can end up with big lump of grey! I have seen it in some Philip Guston’s later work. It tell you something about his mindset at the time.  A painting can expose you more than standing naked in the gallery. Truth.

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Philip Guston, “Painter III,” 1963, oil on canvas, 66” x 79” (private collection, London).

Photography on the other hand can deceive you. The photographer can manipulate the image to make you believe what is in the image is real, when it clearly isn’t. Photography is only a partial truth. Fashion photography is a facade/fantasy, meant to inspire and convince. Sure there is a huge amount of creativity involved in fashion shoot and it involves creating illusions, whether it be of wealth, power, coolness or a pure distain for life. I think, even in documentary photography, there is a huge opportunity to distort the truth, to give false claim to what is really happening. It is however probably the strongest case for truth. I think of the young Vietnamese girl Kim Phúc running naked; it is as it is.

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Napalm Girl by Nick Ut

Nude photography attempts to bring one closer to the beauty of the human form. It’s close to truth, but equally close to a lie as well. It is presenting an aesthetic based on the author’s own interpretation of beauty within the human body. So what about portrait photography? Yes it must be the truth right? I think very few portraits does truth justice. They’re rare ones that reach to that level of openness. I can think of one such portrait that come to mind that reveals an inner truth, which is Annie Leibovitz’s photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Annie Leibovitz, December 1980.

… to be continued.

Abandoned place; abandoned me….

A few days ago I posted several images from a shoot I took at an abandoned school here in Hong Kong. The series is called Children still play in Kwai Chung. The photographs were of window openings from the inside of the schoolrooms looking out to the outside. What I wrote in my description was the following:

“Abandoned places can be frightening places, but this one felt very much alive because of the new found graffiti that adorned the walls of the building, reminding me of a modern day carnival or amusement park. A child could play here freely. Entering the empty rooms though, I found a quiet beauty inside, mixed and layered with chaos, art, nature, the decaying walls and myself.”

Here are few of the images:

Then this morning, it dawned on me that the photographs were more than the above description. It was a clear reflection of how I was feeling about life at the present time. Recently, I feel like I’m divorced from the world. I am on the inside and it’s dark/lonely; meanwhile everything else is out there. The graffiti on the walls are like my own creativity, I’ve felt like I have been suffocating the past few months. The paying work has been scarce and I have turned inward in my own little bubble, my studio.

There were times when I would get exceedingly depressed, but this was more so the case before my own awakening. I could control (or at least understand) my own situation in life. My awakening allowed me to witness my self and my feelings from a far off vantage point. I have become, in a certain way, numb to life and existence on this plane of consciousness.

I feel most alive when I draw, paint and photograph from my soul. I get lost in the moment, and everything seems to be completely fine. There is nothing wrong; no pain, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety. Sometimes, I do not eat nor drink in those moments of intense being. But these kind of moments are dangerous when one needs to pay the rent and bills, the stuff that the pragmatic world requires of us to deal with. That is when I panic and have anxiety about how to get by in this world at the mature age of fifty-three.

The photographs in the abandoned school are trying to tell me something… You see, the window openings I found at the site are completely open, free to pass through.

To see the entire series: Children still play in Kwai Chung

 

Letting your unconscious mind do the work, as it’s more creative than you ‘think’​.

Several months ago, I came to the conclusion that I was going to start make one drawing a day, so that by the end of one year, I would have 365 little creations. To alleviate the fear and pressure (which we have enough in our daily lives already), I decided that to do this, the drawing would be done on A4 paper, nothing intimidating.

Then several weeks in, a friend of mine posted on an event called 1000 Drawings, whereby guests came to doodle, paint or draw on A5 sized paper. When the organisers collected 1000 drawings, it would then be sold for a nominal price of HK$80 (about US$10) I went to the first one and created 3 mini-doodles. The event was a blast!

People came around to me and thought my work was so creative and cool, and asked what I was thinking of. I said I was thinking of nothing. I don’t think about what I’m creating, but to let the pen just move or guide itself. I call it ‘unconscious creativity’. What surprised me even more was that the creativity or ‘wilder’ side became more apparent on A5 paper than on my usual A4 paper, as I could get something out faster, and faster means less thinking! A5 and doodling is the perfect combination. What’s best is not even think about anything while doodling. Let it just happen. You are not trying to make anything pretty or cool and you are not looking for approval. It’s just putting pen to paper.

When you think of it, doodling is exactly just that. If you have ever doodled or scribbled little drawings onto paper when sitting in a conference or classroom, that is the kind of non-thinking behaviour that is akin to what I’m doing here. It’s mindless, or MIND LESS. Move the mind out of the picture, literally, and let go.

Have a cup of tea and doodle away. Maybe buy yourself a simple doodling pad. It doesn’t even have to be a nice one, preferable A5 size and just let go. The 1000 Drawings HK event augmented by own doodling path and have started a mini-collection I call MISHMASH.

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Last week, I held a small doodling session in my studio and invited anyone to drop by to have some fun. What I found when observing people get into their doodling, was that they became very focused and drawn INTO their drawing. I recall the room becoming very silent, although there were about 12 of us. The doodlers became intensely present, which is what I feel and experience when I become thoroughly involved in my own painting or drawing. And when one is in that mode of experience, nothing else matters. There are no problems in life, no fears, no obstacles, no identity. You just are. This is why many of the best and greatest artists become entranced by the profession. Money, relationships, identity become secondary elements to the experience of creating, which to them, is life.

http://normyip.com

Painting: a symbiotic process of constructing and destructing in hopes of something new and refreshing. 


Above: Work in progress: a detail from my latest painting using acrylics and pencil on canvas. It’s highly experimental and filled with gestures and markings that I have never done before. I believe painting is the most difficult medium to do really well. In my recent discussion with another artist, I said that painting this way was a process of first constructing, and then deconstructing. If it’s too obvious, it’s boring. You build something up, then obscure it. You create it, then effectively destroy it, yet in an unconscious methodology. And hopefully after several iterations, some new and exciting is born. The frightening thing is that in the destroying/deconstruction, you risk ruining the entire thing. It sometimes freezes me. Should I? Or shouldn’t I? That is always the question as one is making marks. You put yourself on the line. One wrong move and it might be I unsalvageable. 

This is reason why some paintings sit on the side, unfinished, for many months or years. Because you’re afraid that if you work on it further, you’ll ruin it. I know this for a fact. This is why you hate (loathe) it when someones asks you how long it took to paint a painting. How do you explain yourself to ones that just don’t know? In the end though, I have found that doing nothing is usually the worst thing to do. It is far better to face the fear of failure, than to let it sit idly by. The risk of failure is worth it. Movement is better than non-movement. I have thrown away canvases thick with paint from hours of agony.

I don’t want to end on sour note. Knowing the risk, there is always the chance that the painting will turn out better than you thought it would, that in the process of adding and messing it up again, that something utterly beautiful will appear. The law of the unexpected, the law of accidents has worked for me many times, far greater than the safer route of doing something repeatedly over and over again. People who have come to know me find that I do many different things, and the reason for that is because I hate being bored. I rotate and evolve my mediums of interest from one thing to another. And in that rotating is new energy, new life, and best of all, beauty.

http://normyip.com