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(Image: Ian Chen)

Artist of the Week: Ian Chen

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and today marks the first weekly artist feature on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Ian Chen: I have been oil painting for the past 4 years. Since I don't have a ton of time to create, I work exclusively to perfect my skills in oil painting. I start with an idea based upon my experience as an Asian-American born and raised in Seattle along with my experiences traveling and living elsewhere. Because of these experiences, I have many concepts in mind, and I typically start with a concept and then work to figure out how to execute it.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
I believe there is a lack of genuine Asian-American art especially in a city with such a large and still growing Asian-American population. My goal is to increase representation for Asian-American art in Seattle. From my experience, there's been little work done by Seattle art establishments to diversify the visual art scene. For example, the SAM art gallery has zero art from a person of color. This is surprising since the SAM art gallery is supposed to promote local artists representational to Seattle.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
My "Bruce Lee in Style" painting is my favorite piece. Especially as an Asian-American from Seattle, there's a special pride in the cultural significance of Bruce Lee to our community especially to break the mold that Asians in America can be hip, cool, and stylish. Being an Asian-American, you're viewed as a constant outsider, a foreigner in your own country and also a foreigner when visiting Asian countries. This experience alone has forced me to be continuously introspective and thoughtful, creating a genuine richness and uniqueness to my art. I believe artists who lack experiences end up heavily borrowing from other artists and cultures since they have no genuine story of their own.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
My work is currently hanging at Revolution Wine Shop & Bar in Capitol Hill. I am currently working on a 30 in. x 40 in. oil painting expressing the every day anxiety of working a corporate job.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
You can catch me drinking iced coffee (with a little cream) at a local cafe not named Starbucks.