August 22, 2015

A world of quiet

It occurred to me recently how much my relationship to drawing is informed by a deep skepticism about my authority as an author — as an eye, an arbiter of visibilities, a translator of our world.

Why should one thing be chosen over another? What insight can my point of view bring? Are my attempts at beauty — in character, narrative, or form — universal or 'fair' in any respect, and in what ways are they reflective of bias? Is drawing from the real world a kind of aesthetic imperialism?

I draw what I see: but who am I? Who am I to draw? Who am I to see? And what do I see? For many years now I've lived with the understanding that the things that we draw and the way that we draw them are reflective of our inner selves: our preferences, in sensual and social terms, and in sensibility. It is no revelation to say that there is a politics of representation, but the responsibility of this feels, to me, to be too much to bear at times.

When I look back at my body of work, I see happy but wistful faces, lone individuals looking to believe that everything will be okay; a feeling of temporality enmeshed with pat resignation — wistful, but not sentimental; light, ephemeral. I see a lot of whiteness.

There are happy dogs, and children in quiet moments; lanky women, pleasantly occupied, and dense and desolate urban spaces. This is a world of quiet, overwhelming melancholic; one of gentle isolation; soft summer light, afternoon light. A lot of being quietly in the moment; of wide eyed not knowing. Life passing.

Reading these as if a confession, I gather some sense of myself: a flat but optimistic outlook, skeptical but bright, staid but fragile. This is not a world in which one becomes alarmed — rather, one moves through it, slowly and lightly.

May 18, 2015


I've been off the radar for a time; for many years working on super secret stuff at Pixar Animation Studios (work you've likely seen in one form or another by now; I'll tell you some stories about Pixar later : ) —, and for the last few, doing brand storytelling and strategy work for the swiftly moving and very dynamic startup, Airbnb.

I haven't made much of an effort to publicize this work, but it's been fascinating, expansive, and exciting, and, despite my general modesty, some of it has garnered attention in the business world, gaining mention in such auspicious places as Fast CompanyInc. Magazine, The Harvard Business Review, and Sequoia Capitol's blog, Grove, to name a choice few publications.

The work has aged a little — it's a few years old now — but it was realized with all the love, sincerity, and careful attention that I brought my to my work in animation, and, really, to all of the projects I've had the pleasure of working on. I learned so much in the process of collaborating with the bright and enthusiastic artists and designers I met at Airbnb and I'd love to share a some of our work and tell you a bit about the process of making it.

It might take some time, but stay tuned! These have been some big years.

x

Nick Sung

April 02, 2015

"What steps can I take to become an artist if I can only manage stick figures?"  — a question from Quora


Art begins with inquiry, and the fact that you're asking this question is, in and of itself, a wonderful first step. There isn't a single clear path to becoming an artist. And the practice means many things, as artists work in all variety of media, and pursue many forms of concern. The choice of medium, in many ways, interacts with / dictates / draws out / complicates / inspires / and limits the inquiry; the two are interrelated. 

Regarding drawing: there isn't much more to it than lines, so you're off to a good start! Lines are where we all begin: it's simply a matter of seeing where you can take them. Read books, take classes, draw with friends, and find out what works best for you; everyone you speak with will have a different approach. Be open to them, and be critical of them. Some will lead to dead ends, some to epiphanies; some will restrict your thinking, and others will open more doors. The more you can enjoy the challenge of learning to draw, the more you'll grow. What this all means is that you should just enjoy drawing and stay curious about it. 

And as for stick figures: when I worked at Pixar, where I taught figure drawing classes, it was always the basics that tripped people up — people were always so eager to skip ahead. My simple advice: don't sell the basics short: they're the building blocks of your knowledge. A circle must be round, a straight line must be straight, and a curved line curved in just the right way. More angled or less? Is something heavy or light? In front or behind? Being able to knowingly, sensibly relate lines and forms — that's the whole thing; that's drawing.

For drawing, curiosity, and it's products, some books I recommend: 
  • Drawing: For the Artistically Undiscovered, by Quentin Blake 
  • The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri 
  • Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, by Lawrence Weschler and Robert Irwin


March 30, 2015



I'm not the biggest fan of hearing myself / seeing myself, but here's a link to a talk I gave earlier this winter:

Nicholas Andre Sung at Mission Comics as part of the Spring Talk Series, curated by Quintessa Matranga. A txt companion to moving piece, from CoCo Confidential, an exhibition curated by Matthew Linde (Melbourne) and Quintessa Matranga (San Francisco).

March 04, 2015

they speak!


~ tonight at mission comics, from 7 pm onward ~

January 14, 2015


spent some of the last few days painting, plotting, imagining. 

it seems like the time time to wander across fields.

September 25, 2014

is this

"what threatens reading is this: the reader’s reality, his personality, his immodesty, his stubborn resistance upon remaining himself in the face of what he reads — a man who knows in general how to read."

— maurice blanchot


November 26, 2013

3 4 y r s .


i went running yesterday.

i haven't been in months. in a year and

three months. it felt good — to return to myself,

today i'm sore, but feel renewed:

having done something, having seen a door and opened it,

having followed a new route, grown tired and kept going.

June 12, 2013

n / a




i'm happy to announce that after many months of planning,

i've recently opened n/a, an exhibition and event space

in oakland, california.


with a focus on the queer experience in contemporary art practice,

n/a seeks to gather individuals and communities of diverse social

and political backgrounds, with programming that encourages

critical dialog, lends legibility and visibility to queer artists and

ideas, and produces new imaginaries. it is curated by myself

with the help of a community of organizers. many thanks to

kait mooney, christopher füllemann, kristine eudey, alex

maldonado, alexandra anderson, rocket caleshu, daniel

nevers and lindsay reed for their love, hard work,

and support.


i'm very excited to tell you about our first show,

your motion says you're in the mood, new work

by christopher füllemann. in the meanwhile,

visit out our website, friend us on facebook,

and drop by if you're in town.


x


January 23, 2013

a l t / e x

I am a proud recipient of a 2012 Alternative Exposure grant 

from San Francisco's visual arts nonprofit Southern Exposure

in support of n/a : an emergent art space for the Bay Area 

queer community opening later in the spring, 2013.

Meet all the grantees tonight at Southern Exposure

6-8pm 3030 20th St San Franisco