The eXTra finGer

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Interview with Howie Tsui

1) Something on you…whatever you want…
1)I was born in Hong Kong in the late 70’s and then my family moved to Nigeria for 5 years. In 1984, we immigrated to Canada and lived in Thunder Bay - an isolated town in northern Ontario. There is where I grew up playing street hockey and basketball, listening to metal, lighting army worms on fire, throwing crab apples at reverends, and making out with girls at pit parties atop piles of poo (by accident). After a stint in art school at Waterloo, I’m now based in Ottawa making art and doing music stuff.

2) How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?
2)It smells like pickled foreskins. It feels like 20 farts in the face. It sounds like a Chinese Zither played through a Mooger Fooger pedal. It tastes like leper bandages.

3) What are you doing now…your current projects…
3)I have a show coming up in July called ‘Paper Pushers’ at Gallery 1988 in LA. It’s a drawing-based group show. The brunt of my energy, however, has been spent making new work for my first solo show (in a public space) at Gallery101, here in Ottawa. It’s the most ambitious and challenging exhibit for me to date. There’s lots of space to work with, lots of government funding for developing the exhibit, and it’s also really liberating to create work without any sort of commercial pressures.

4) Where do you get your inspirations…?
4)Absurd memories, Dr. Slump, Hui Brothers, Mr. Vampire, Jim Henson, ghost stories, Hokusai drawings, classic animation, Jan Svankmajer, Superflat, the disobedients, Walton Ford, Amy Cutler, Brendan Monroe and Dave Cooper.

5) What are your next projects…?
5)I have a solo show in Feb. 2007 at Toothless Chandelier in San Francisco. Perhaps my most favourite city on earth.

6) What other talent would most like to have…?
6)The ability to pork anything.

7) Where have you shown your art…?
7)Ottawa, Toronto, Chicago, New York, Sydney, San Jose, San Francisco and LA.

8)Do you collaborate or have you collaborated with magazines, zines…or other ?
8)I recently made a piece for Beautiful/Decay based on their theme “I see Beauty”; worked with Jeremyville for their Sketchel project of one-of-a-kind shoulder bags; worked with San Francisco band Thee More Shallows in creating the album art for their cd ‘More Deep Cuts’; and currently I’m collaborating with some fine design students from Calgary on a project called ‘Said and Done’ ( that involves working atop their prints. I guess, to be honest, all my new work in the Of Manga and Mongrels series is a collaboration between Hokusai and I. Except he’s dead so maybe that’s not much of a collabo afterall.

9) Favourite book?
9)I’m not much of a reader. More a pictures guy, but I really enjoyed Will Self’s Great Apes.

10) What materials do you use for your creations?
10)Of late, Mylar, paper collage, ink, graphite and acrylic.

11) Are there certain colours, shapes that you are drawn to?
11)I like green a lot. It used to be super bright limey greens, but recently I’m into the duller varieties. I like the shapes of bones and asses.

12) How important is self-promotion for an artist nowadays?
12)I would assume that like any era, self-promotion is pretty essential if you want to be a working artist. It’s nice now that artists can put their work online and it can be seen by many people. It also means there’s a lot of shite out there too. Truthfully, I really wouldn’t be the right person to ask, as I generally feel too weird promoting my own work. I tend to be shy when it comes to approaching galleries and magazines to consider showing my work. I’d much prefer to meet other creative people in person socially and develop something organically out of it, but I’m pretty isolated here.

13) What do you fear the most?
13)Overcooked meat.

14) Music you like and you listen…
14)Tropicalia, early to mid 90’s hip hop, Soul Jazz stuff, Motown, Serge Gainsbourg, 90’s indie rock, remixes, Ohbijou, Timber, Akron/Family, Books, Madlib, MF Doom, Delta Blues, Johanna Newsome and on and on.

15) A message for the readers…
15)Send me your Osso Buco recipes!

16) Your contacts….e-mail…links…
Music Stuff


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