2Choey, a Thai street artist, talks to Aurum Gallery about his identity, from a former urban designer to a street and pop artist. With his determination to create art that has bought him international recognition.
AU: We have been following your profile for a while, but we would like to know more about your artist name and how to pronounce it correctly?
2CHOEY: Actually, it derived from a Thai word ‘choey choey’ (indifferent). It was my catchword when I was at university and social media just started to take off. I didn’t know what my username should be, so I just picked this word ‘Choey Choey’ and replaced the first ‘Choey’ with the number ‘2’, so it became ‘2Choey’. At the time, I didn’t think that I would become an artist. I was just into drawing. People started to follow me on social media and I received good feedback. So the name stuck with me. Like, People pronounce it in a different ways, but it really doesn’t matter how people pronounce it.
AU: We have seen your works, but rarely see you in person. Do you like to conceal your real identity? Some artists cover their faces or don’t want to reveal who they really are to the public.
2CHOEY: No, not at all. Most of my works are not in restricted areas. I don’t really do that. Only a few pieces can be considered as vandalism, but I do the commission work mostly or get permission from property owners before I start scrawling. So no, I don’t hide myself, I just post more about my work rather than my lifestyle.
AU: Your background is very interesting. Can you tell us how you become an art director and artist after graduating from university?
2CHOEY: I graduated in Urban Architecture. At that time, I wasn’t sure what I liked, so I wanted to try something besides art first. Since I was interested in advertising and production, I started my work in an ad agency. While working there, I was also painting as my hobby. People were liking my artwork and paid me for the paintings. Then I realised that I actually liked painting more than making adverts, I began taking it more seriously until I was sure that making art could support me.
AU: When you were working full-time and painting, did you ever feel tired?
2CHOEY: Yes, sometimes. But I spent time trying to balance it, I could see things clearer as my passion leaned towards art. I had that kind of feeling like ‘I don’t have time to create art at all‘ when I only had free time at weekends or was exhausted from my job. I felt like I wanted to paint, but I didn’t have time for it. I feel I could’ve created much stronger works if I had more time then. But I never used that as an excuse. I tried to do both and, ultimately, I figured out that I should focus on just one thing only. Painting was more preferable, so I quit my job.
AU: Do you think that different work experiences in several fields of work relate to each other? Do they have any influence on other works?
2CHOEY: There is something connected. Something can be very new. Being an architect, everything has to be in order and with rules. There is always a reason to support what you are doing. You can’t just base everything on your feelings or emotions. When I worked in the ad agency, I could use more of my creative thinking. Once I turned into an artist, I tried to convey the stories or contexts I am interested in. To me, I don’t think my painting skills are that good compared to other artists, so I try to create works containing attentive stories and characters.
AU: Where did the idea for the ‘Fingies’ characters come from?
2CHOEY: It’s actually my fingers. As I said, I’m not a painting genius, but I like it. I taught myself how to draw and paint and continue to practice. I found out that I could draw my fingers. My fingers are with me all the time. Like, when I let go of my thoughts, and have nothing to focus on, I will draw my hand and fingers. It wasn’t intended. It took me a while to notice that I draw my hand and fingers all the time. It became comfortable to draw it, so I adapted this to be part of my characters identity.
AU: What motivated you to travel to Melbourne, Australia?
2CHOEY: Basically, it was just to learn English. International artists contacted me to collaborate. I couldn’t accept the offers because of the language barrier, we couldn’t communicate well, so I missed some opportunities. It made me realise the importance of language and how it can play an important role in supporting my work in the future.
During my time in Melbourne, I tried to do everything I could to relate me to the arts. I started selling paintings on the street, then someone noticed me and contacted me about displaying my work in galleries. I submitted to a lot of open calls and projects that could fund me in making art, creating street art in a local communities. As I kept doing it, it broadened my network. I got to be an artist’s assistant, gallery assistant and even salesperson. My works started selling, and I met more people when going out, scrawling or painting on walls together. Galleries gave me the opportunity to display my works. Even now that I’m back in Thailand, galleries in Melbourne continue to reach out to me.
AU: Has your international experience affected how you create art?
2CHOEY: I think it has, yes. When I brought myself to a new environment, everything was new. There are a lot of galleries in Melbourne, with exhibitions every week. It’s so vibrant there. I don’t think I can cover every single gallery. And exhibitions last around 2 weeks which is a really short time. I always felt on fire, so eager, when I saw many high quality artworks. It inspired me to go home and keep working. It was like, exciting me, motivating me to work more and improve myself. I had my art displayed most months, ending with a solo exhibition before returning to Thailand.
AU: Can you define your artwork style?
2CHOEY: I think my work has features of pop art. I think it’s obvious, from the colour palettes I use to the stories behind them. It’s Pop Art.
AU: Last question, what do you think about working with Aurum Gallery?
2CHOEY: When I came back from Australia, I saw that Aurum Gallery just opened. I was so excited to see that there was a gallery like this in Thailand. I feel like there should’ve been a gallery focusing on street art for a long time because there are many artists whose works are street art based. Aurum Gallery also presents artwork from international artists, some of them are those I follow on social media. Getting to see their works in person is something more special. I can gaze at the details, texture and colours that artists use, and that is so satisfying. I am really thrilled to be part of the gallery.
To read the interview in Thai, please view on Facebook.
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