Chiara Xie's tech-focused illustrations redefine what a fulfilling life looks like

London-based illustrator Chiara Xie reflects on the effect of technology in her cyberpunk artwork. But far from being purely negative about its societal impact, she explores how it can be a valuable tool and a powerful asset for artists.

Chiara has always had a passion for art, even though her academic background initially led her to study finance with a minor in Visual Arts at Boston University. It was during her college years, though, that she embarked on a journey of self-discovery and found her true calling. "While taking art history courses, I realised that my true interest lay in creating the artwork itself," she tells Creative Boom.

"This realisation prompted me to enrol in an intensive summer illustration course in New York, where I explored various forms of illustration. Among them, editorial illustration resonated with me the most. As someone who avidly follows current events, thanks to my hobby as a finance student, I found editorial illustration to be an ideal platform for expressing my thoughts on the world's happenings."

After graduating, which happened to coincide with the pandemic, Chiara took a gap year and worked as a graphic designer in an advertising company. It was here that she continually honed her illustration skills by taking additional courses, ultimately leading to her pursuit of a Master's degree in Illustration at Kingston University.

Inspired by the cyberpunk aesthetic of Liam Wong's photography, as well as the striking colour theory showcased in the works of Paul Klee, Chiara is always on the lookout for ways to add a unique depth to her art. "Sonia Delaunay's innovative approach to fashion, abstract patterns, and Simultanism are things I find truly inspiring," she adds. "Belgian artist Brecht Evens also interests me with his storytelling abilities, captivating characters, and the overlaid beauty of his watercolour work, often incorporating surreal architecture."

In her artwork, Chiara says she strives "to shed light on the aspects of reality that often go unnoticed or are filtered through various lenses." Nowhere is this more evident than in her illustrations, where people grapple with the overwhelming presence of screens, constant comments and online pressures. In these pieces, Chiara adds "imaginative elements" to explore what lies behind the scenes and, in doing so, provide a new perspective on the human experience.

"My goal is to spark conversations and reflections on the coexistence of utopian and dystopian elements within our lives," she explains. "By challenging preconceived notions and offering alternative narratives, I aim to redefine our understanding of what a fulfilling lifestyle entails."

Editorial illustrations are the perfect outlet for Chiara to have these conversations, as she appreciates the clarity with which messages can be communicated through the form. "They also offer an opportunity for a thoughtful exploration of ideas. I find great joy in delving into various familiar and unfamiliar topics and expressing my unique visual language in relation to them."

As for why she leans towards stories about technology and lifestyle, Chiara reveals that they tap into her love of sci-fi movies and how technology is reshaping the world. "I avidly follow news related to Web 3, Open AI, DAO, and blockchain, as technology has become an integral part of our lives, progressing from Web 1 to Web 2, and now Web 3," she says.

"Moreover, the proliferation of immersive exhibitions, such as those by David Hockney, and the visionary potential of VR presented by Apple's vision pro, all contribute to my fascination with exploring the intersection of technology and lifestyle."

Yet despite the easy temptation to lean into the negative consequences of technology, Chiara sidesteps the obvious approach. "My feelings towards technology are complex," she concludes. "Undeniably, technology has become deeply integrated into human lives. However, the question remains: Will technology shape humanity in return?

"I contemplate how technology impacts the formation, storage, and recollection of our memories today. Will digital memory bring us closer together or further drive us apart? These are the questions I will explore in my upcoming projects.

"Overall, I maintain an optimistic view of technology's potential. It can enhance our cognitive abilities and increase productivity. The rise of Web 3 has expanded the horizons of art, introducing new forms such as NFT and VR art. Nevertheless, I acknowledge the dark side of technology, as exemplified by surveillance cameras, video game addiction, and deep fake technology, reminiscent of dystopian works like Total Recall and Blade Runner.

"I believe that AI can be a valuable tool for artists if it is used under strict regulations."


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