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Sin sin






Hong Kong

New York

In Conversation: Sin Sin’s Artistic Evolution

by Charlie Zhang

Even after decades of practice, Sin Sin Man, known better as Sin Sin, feels uncomfortable when people call her an artist. “I work to live,” she says, as she describes how she’s lived and breathed art her whole life. A free spirit, she rejects any ideas about titles and labels. As someone who has been in fashion, art and design for most of her life, and used nearly every material under the sun, Sin Sin still works with fresh eyes. She’s excited by spaces, colors, smells, textures and the like, finding new ways to bring them into her world with surprising fidelity.

“Anything can be made beautiful.”

To say that Sin Sin’s body of work is diverse would be an understatement. She crafts everything with a detailed eye. Even her self-designed sanctuary in Bali is an architectural gem. Today, we’re sitting in Sin Sin’s industrial studio loft in Wong Chuk Hang where a poster of her newest art exhibition hangs amidst vintage wooden furniture, colorful garments and jewelry. “Beauty is comfort,” Sin Sin explains as she shows us around. Her studio space, ambient and welcoming, is an extension of her warm and bubbly personality.

Our interview with Sin Sin explores the evolution of her work and her new exhibition.

Can you tell us about your childhood? 

I'm very lucky because I was raised at Taoist temple in the mountains of Diamond Hill in the late ‘50s surrounded by nature. It was a very amazing period. I was raised by my grandparents. My grandparents were born at the end of the 1800s . So, I’ve been a very old soul because I grew up with them. You can imagine the area in those days — lots of movie studios, even Bruce Lee came from our area. During kindergarten, my grandmother would take me to catch morning showings at the movies in Kowloon City. I also followed my grandfather to central every weekend. Going from pure nature to the bustling city-center was such a rich and diverse combination. 

We were very open-minded and we didn’t have a rigid view of things compared to many traditional households back then.

We were not rich, but we were rich in our hearts. We were happy kids and we’d play a lot. We ran around, threw rocks and acted like kings and queens of the mountain. This is how I was brought up.

Were you always an artist?

I mean, I don't want to label myself, but, yes, fine. Sometimes it's very hard to explain to people why I feel this way, so I kind of just give in and say, “Okay. Yes, that works. Done." But names and titles are just temporary. They’re not important. What's most important is my content and what I'm doing.

What was the first thing you ever made?

The first piece I remember was when I went to Chiu Chow in the early ‘80s. I went there with an American Jewish lady. It was so cool. Some of the locals gave us a tour and showed us traditional handicrafts. We were so fascinated. We felt so welcomed and felt they wanted to see the outside world. That really launched me to this path.

I remember the first piece I ever made was a tiny hexagonal package. I was using bugle beads. I still remember the colors I used: blonde, midnight blue, gunmetal and black. I still love it.

What do you consider as art?

I don't really have a solid definition of art because I work to live. I don’t live to work. I was always making things since I was a kid. I always liked exploring. I’ll never skip on anything that I could connect with and inspire me.

How did you end up doing so many things?

I only do whatever I can and whatever inspires me. I don’t know what’s considered doing a lot and doing little. 

If you want to be happy with your work, you need to trust yourself and feel it.

If you could give advice to young creatives, what would you say?

Like the slogan of our current exhibition, “Be Mad. Be Fearless. Be True. Be Curious. Be Yourself,” don’t live in the eyes of others and worry too much about what people think. Take each day in strides and form your own future with courage and persistence.

In case you missed it, check out our previous interview with Kenny X Li for his Hong Kong-based magazine YePYeP.

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