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Photos by San Chang
Article by Jocelyn Utting
My name is LI, YA-WEN, my English name is Ruby (which I named it for myself, because back in school my English teacher gave me the name Wendy. This is really an Asian thing to give somebody an English name because is just easier to remember, so I renamed myself Ruby because I love the color red and it means red diamond. Also, my artist name is Rubanee, my friend from Switzerland gave me, is just a nickname and doesn’t really means anything but I like how it sounds).
Mainly illustration but I also love to play with different mediums. Like I did a piñata for my exhibition, just trying everything to represent women.
I am a Sagittarius, born in November 29th (Taurus rising and Aries moon).
My name is LI, YA-WEN, but you can call me Ruby or Rubanee as well, I’m an artist and PR living in Taipei, Taiwan. According to my half fire half earth elements, I’m always jumping between art and PR field, my inner Sag allows me to create through art and Aries tells me to remember staying on your ground, I studied illustration in Switzerland for two years. I was really curious about feminism and the meaning behind it, playing with different mediums such as color pencil, acrylic and gouache to transform my femininity into art. When I'm back in Taiwan I go straight into PR field, helping fashion brands to build their market in Taiwan, there I’m a PR by day an artist by night.
What is your star signs strengths and weaknesses?Do you see similarities within yourself?
Strengths: Generous, idealistic, humorous, curious, adventurous, truthful, fair, philosophical, independent, energetic, jovial, conversational.
Weaknesses:Impatient, tactless, boastful, brash, inconsistent, aggressive.
I think I relate a lot to my weaknesses rather than my strengths (laugh), I find myself zero patient for anything, even watching Netflix, but I am good at turning my weaknesses becoming a strength, for Sagittarius-born folks are quite tricky to tell, because I can be really independent and too energetic that annoyed people, it’s never simply a mindless jaunt we’re seeking. As for my strengths the most relatable could be humorous and conversational, which helps a lot when I work as a PR for brands.
What traits about your star sign most resonate with you?
With heavy Sagittarius influences, I'm born independent, I love the feeling of being alone, so I think I'm super independent for a Sag, and I use it to explore and be inspired in my creativity. In my family we have 2 Sags, my mom and my dad, my sister is a Leo, so this is a fire-ruled household. Unlike other Asian parents, my parents let me choose my interests and career.
Impatient is another trait that resonates for me, I struggle with being patient, I cannot even wait for traffic light turn green.
What is your star sign’s character?
Sags are usually a blend of lofty and idealistic, represented by the Archer-Centaur, Sag's symbolism is two-fold. The Archer points their bow and arrow in the heavens, always aiming to a higher purpose. Also The Centaur, it has a human torso with the body of a galloping horse, my star sign's character influences me a lot in my drawings. A combination of animal and human is such an interesting symbol to explore.
How does the internet affect you?
Life would be really really hard without the internet. I’m now used to solving my curiosity instantly through internet, I check my Instagram every 2 seconds. The internet takes intimacy to another level, the reality of the internet has a whole different set of social skills which I felt insecure at the beginning. For a Sag it’s really hard to follow the rules IRL not mentioned in the internet world, but for artists and creative, the possibility of posting your work online is the fastest way to connect with the world. Such as gaining an audience and reaching out to my favorite artist with just a click, therefore I can't imagine living as an artist without internet.
You display your art on lots of different mediums? What’s your favourite medium to work with and why?
I try to play with different mediums to express my feelings about feminism or being an Asian woman. Because you cannot define women in any specific way, that’s why in my illustrations I use different techniques like hand drawing and spray paint. I love the process of using different mediums, it’s really relaxing and therapeutic. It feels like every time you draw a woman you’re creating a life. My favorite medium is definitely gouache! I love the texture of it and how flexible it can be.
What do you think the colour pink is doing for female identifying art right now?
In my solo exhibition, I painted all the walls pink to redefine the colour and destroy the concept of being pretty and living under the standard of Asian society. The colour pink has traditionally indicated a certain stratum of feminine experience. Pink wasn’t my favorite colour before I explored it in female identity, I was afraid to like pink as a colour, but pink was a coloir surrounded me when I was little, playing with barbie dolls and wearing my pink leggings to school. I know people have this love and hate relationship with pink, but you don't need to love pink. It’s a colour to explore sexuality, self-identity, and contemporary feminism, pink is a colour I like and an attitude within me.
Your work assimilates traditional romanticism of the female form with new age technology. Why did you choose to relate two concepts and what do they communicate when applied together?
I'm desperately romantic and nostalgic, but also aiming for something new. I choose to draw with traditional material because it allows me to process my feelings and think in every detail. A lot of illustrators use digital nowadays, I used to create in digital but felt really lonely afterward, a computer screen can speed up the process of creating, but removed the emotional components. When I applied them together it was so relaxing. When you draw, you cannot predict how your work will come out, and you learn to appreciate the mistakes you make and embrace the result.
What is the most empowering characteristic of your female lens?
Our strengths, when a woman loses everything, she will fight, when she is aware of her power she becomes invincible. She will fight against the world, and when women unite, they can always find ways to grow.
What’s a piece of advise you’d want to give your future self?
It’s okay to be a professional weirdo and stop trying to win anything (like everything), also learn from the greatest but become yourself!