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Interview of Vyolet Jin by Freya Bennett

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art: 

What’s up everyone, I’m Vyolet Jin, I’m a Chinese Illustrator currently based in New York. For my illustrations, I like to draw out the energy of my subject and distill it into powerful, blooming fireworks. This means that I take the most important aspects and cultivate them into colorful, emotional, and chaotic forms that don’t conform to ordinary proportions. I spread my characters’ emotions out and make them bigger than life.

In the past, I’ve worked with The New York Times, The NYT Kids and 4N magazine. My work has gained me recognition from organizations worldwide, including: the Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Magazine, Art Director’s Club, Graphis Competition, Communication Arts, and the World Illustration Award.

It’s an honor to be invited by Ramona Magazine and talk about my recent Solo Show, OVERLOAD/情绪超载

Your recent exhibit, OVERLOAD/情绪超载, explores themes of self-image and chaos in a digital world, can you tell us a bit about the process of coming up with this concept? 

The concept for OVERLOAD/情绪超载 emerged from a very personal place. In the first couple of years of my career, I found myself trapped in a cycle of low self-esteem, overthinking, and anxiety. It felt like I was spiraling down into a vortex, unable to escape the chaos of my own mind. I was searching for a metaphor that could accurately represent these internal emotional activities, and the idea of a computer system came naturally to me.

Computers were originally designed to imitate the human brain, but their way of managing data and files is very rational and systematic. This contrast provided a clearer way to showcase a chaotic, emotional mind. Each “folder” in the exhibit is a window into a different emotional state, allowing the audience to navigate and experience the complexity of these feelings. Interestingly, while my intention was more about personal emotional chaos, many visitors have connected it with contemporary information overload, which adds another layer of interpretation to the work.

I love how you represent emotions by folders in a corrupted electronic file system, tell us more about this:

Thank you 🙂 The corrupted electronic file system is a direct reflection of my own experiences with mental and emotional overload. Living in a fast-paced city like New York, combined with the pressures of being an independent artist, often makes me feel like my mind is an overstuffed hard drive, with emotions and thoughts popping up like error messages.

The “Unconfident” folder is particularly significant to me. Unlike the more aggressive emotions of anxiety and overthinking, my feelings of unconfidence are distant, isolated, and non-grounded, like floating in the air. It’s a sensation of hiding and not wanting to show myself to others. To reflect this, I curated the “Unconfident” wall with images placed apart from each other, mirroring that sense of distance and isolation.

For the “Overthinking” folder, it’s like having too many tabs open, each one demanding my attention. As an artist, multitasking and overthinking are inevitable. When you rethink an issue so many times that the tabs duplicate until they crash with other tabs, it’s like your CPU can’t handle it anymore, leading to your computer freezing. In reality, this represents an emotional breakdown. This chaotic state is something many can relate to, and I wanted to externalize it visually and emotionally.

For the “Anxiety” folder, the red dots are like those annoying ringing alarms in the back of your head, constantly reminding you there is more to do. A visitor commented that they also resemble skin irritations or rashes, which are warnings from your body. I found this observation quite interesting and accurate.

Lastly, in the final wall, the discard/deletion of the three folders represents a helpful method I’ve been practicing in my daily life. We can never completely rid ourselves of negative emotions, but we can set a “switch” to get on top of them and learn to delete them when they become too overwhelming. This way, when they inevitably return, we have the ability to deal with them more peacefully.

This chaotic state is something I think many people can relate to, and I wanted to externalize it in a way that others could visually and emotionally engage with.

How has your art been received and how do you respond to the reception of others? 

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have my work well-received by so many art competitions and organizations. It’s always humbling to hear that my illustration resonates with others and that it helps them feel understood. Art is a deeply personal

expression, but it becomes universal when others see their own experiences reflected in it.

Apart from public recognition, I particularly appreciate the feedback I gain from my fellow artist friends. It’s so important to have an outsider’s perspective after being too immersed in your work. Fresh eyes are always helpful. For a starting artist like me, I receive more positive comments than criticism. While I deeply appreciate these, especially from my partner, sometimes I wonder if they’re entirely true or just encouragement out of love. Constantly chatting with my artist friends helps me recognize my problems. We brainstorm solutions together, offering perspectives we might not have considered on our own.

The most meaningful feedback often comes from these honest, insightful discussions. They help me see my work from different angles and inspire new directions. Knowing that others connect with my work on an emotional level is incredibly rewarding, and I value the mix of support and constructive criticism that helps me grow as an artist.

Do you see yourself settling in New York?

Since I just graduated last year, most of my school friends are here, and being around them always gives me so much energy and power. I also enjoy having easy access to many art resources and in-person events. I can see myself staying here for the next few years.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists? 

During my artist journey, I was consistently advised to only showcase my work when it was flawless and fully refined. While this advice holds merit, I carried this perfectionist mindset into every aspect of my art, resulting in excessive detailing and extended timelines for completing projects. As a consequence, I often ended up submitting my work at the last possible moment.

This pattern eventually led me to a realization. I recognized that my obsession with perfection hindered my artistic growth and caused unnecessary stress. It was at this point that I challenged this belief and experimented with a new approach. I began emphasizing the essential aspects of an image, letting go of the need for absolute perfection. This change in perspective allowed me to create more freely and confidently, focusing on conveying the core message of my artwork rather than striving for unattainable perfection. Once I embraced this shift in mindset, my artistic process became more enjoyable, efficient, and uniquely my own.

What’s next for Vyolet? 

OVERLOAD/情绪超载 is a wrap-up exhibition for my last stage of the creative process. I wanted to utilize the space to talk about and learn to deal with my emotions, and then close the case and move on.

My next chapter’s abstract is to experiment with more topics and spaces where I can apply my current playful and colorful art style. Hopefully, as I become more fluent in mastering my style, I’ll attract more clients and achieve my commercial success goals 😀

Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and editor from Dja Dja Wurrung Country who loves grey days, libraries and dandelion tea. You can follow her on Instagram @freya___bennett

Vyolet Jin

Vyolet Jin is a Chinese illustrator based in New York who loves to break the rules by drawing her subjects through a playful lens. Ordinary objects are depicted in unnatural ways to highlight a whimsical, not-so-serious tone. Vyolet’s work captures the energy of her subjects, transforming them into powerful, blooming fireworks that convey colorful, emotional, and chaotic forms, making her characters’ emotions larger than life.

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