Dai Zhen Chew (Zhen) is an interactive artist who has performed her digital drawings and charcoal animations on some of Australia's largest canvasses...

...including the Big Screen at Federation Square, Melbourne.  Her work explores visual perception as it relates to the understanding of self and identity. Zhen is well known for her energetic and captivating stop-motion animation workshops which aim to engage participants in a collaborative, team based creative experience and have been run for organisations such as Artplay, Regional Arts Australia and recently for Murray Arts, as well as at numerous schools.
Find out more at www.zhenart.net

What ignited that spark of pursuing a career in art?

I have always loved art and drawing. I found it challenging but that was also what I loved about it. I was never the best in school however, I didn't care because I enjoyed it so much. In fact, one teacher stated "Zhen might really enjoy art but she will never make it because she is not that good at art." This made me even more determined.
While studying at University, I was very lucky to encounter some really inspiring teachers and fellow student to learn from. They taught me to learn as much as I could then decide what was useful or not. There are no hard and fast rules for anything, so I guess this is why my art is a little different.

What has been one of your career challenges?

Being dyslexic means I find it challenging to read and write. Running my own art business involves writing grant and exhibition applications, artist profiles, emails and researching the latest trends in the art world. I have learnt to ask for help, use adaptive technology (programs that read to me and write for me) and to think outside the square, such as seeking information via videos and talking to people. I have been very fortunate to have supportive people around me and working with me.

What are your top 3 tips for someone thinking of entering a career in the arts?

1. A successful artist is like any other successful professional. They work hard, work smarter and are consistent. Remember, it is very rare for anyone to be an overnight success, it takes time.

2. If you're serious about a career in the arts learn everything you can about the art industry, attend art shows and events, look things up online, meet and talk to people in the industry. This will help open up opportunities.

3. Know some good online resources: Artshub (www.artshub.com.au) - Art news, events and jobs; NAVA (www.visualarts.net.au) - arts union and artist information; Art & Artist Blog (www.artandartistsblog.net )- My blog about art and artists, which will eventually start having little tips on things you should know as an artist.

I'm very lucky, name another job where you can you spend most of your time playing? That's how it feels when I'm drawing. I love it. It's fun. While creating my art I get to solve challenging puzzles, it's really satisfying when I resolve the problem. As an interactive artist I also love helping other people see how satisfying and fun making art can be.


Image credits: Zhen Chew and Sherylyne Moran