Had the honor of writing the foreword to Noah Kuang Hong's new artbook that's just been published in China. 2 volumes collecting over 15 years of his digital paintings, it's really something to behold.
We've known each other well over a decade now, some of my earliest experiences in learning about art, Photoshop, and defining my own colors and aesthetics as a photographer came from working together and also as his manager.
A few years ago we caught up at New York Comic Con. He told me he intended to stop doing digital paintings. It came as a shock because he was doing very well. But Noah had always been a non-conformist, so as much as I was surprised, I also understood. As he explained his intentions, I sat there in awe and envy—I fervently wish I could do the same about my own work. He wanted to relearn how to paint altogether, and went and did it. When I visited Beijing this June, he had made hundreds upon hundreds of new drawings and paintings; experimented with nearly every type of traditional medium available. To say I was inspired is an understatement.
Since that talk at NYCC, I have worked towards cutting back on fashion work so I could do other things that interest me as well. As an artist I always hope that we can keep evolving and growing and never stop. But it's hard, and sometimes it takes someone else doing something to make us realize that we can do it too. So thank you Noah for continuing to be an inspiration. Congratulations on the book. ❤️
It's been well over a decade since I first met Noah on a private art forum called Cloud 9. I was instantly drawn to the post-apocalyptic fantasy style of his work. From his early pieces like "The Hornet" and "Butterfly", it was already evident, even at such a young age, that Noah was going to be a once-in-a-generation kind of artist—unique, unorthodox, and spectacular.
When you look at Noah's works, there is fantasy, post-apocalyptic science fiction, myths and legends, surrealism, and occasionally, even social commentary and comics. It’s a strange mix of intricately detailed drawings, bizarre concept art, and fantastical illustrations. And between all of these is an unbelievable breadth of themes and styles for any single artist. Sometimes, I feel that even as fans of his work, it would be easy to miss the amount of deep thought and design it would take to create these pieces.
In Noah's world, often, it's as if canvases simply serve to be extended. If you let him, it's almost as if an image could go on and on with stories sprawling into epics and details that never cease.
Early on in my career, before I became a photographer, I managed Noah's work as his agent for nearly five years. In this time, I had interacted with many individuals who were drawn intrinsically to his pieces just as I was. It was often held with awe, inspiration, and a touch of personal resonance that a breed of individuals similar to ourselves seemed to find echoing.
Noah is not a conformist.
I remember when we first met in Shanghai in 2003, Noah had just arrived in his first big city. He had left home not less than a year ago, with just a backpack over his shoulder and aspirations of a typical teenager raised in the country. He wanted to make his own path and become an artist. He didn't mind being ostracized or misunderstood in an especially traditional environment where the arts was not a real job to be pursued or taken seriously.
During this time, I grew used to Noah's natural propensity for change. As most artists will agree, the more established a person is, the more difficult it is to make any kind of changes in style, medium, and subject matters, especially ones that an individual is known for. Noah never shied away from proactive change. In fact, he pursued it.
In a very specific way that Noah was known for his work and style for using Corel Painter, and painting on a single layer with a single type of brush, he one day decided to switch to Photoshop and braved through the criticisms of fans and viewers who found his new style lacking, while he learned how to wield his new tools.
Over time, his new art matured into works even more spectacular than before, but for most artists, many would never have even tried. They most certainly would not have continued trying if the changes were met with strong resistance. It was only when I became older, that I appreciated how brave this was.
In 2013, Noah and I met at New York Comic Con. It had been years since we last saw each other in person. We sat in a quiet coffee shop to catch up. I was lacking in sleep and worrying about a film set I had to be on in a few hours. He told me that he was going to quit CG. It was a moment of shock and confusion as I tried to process the information in my sleep-deprived mind.
Noah said that he had wanted to explore traditional mediums and fine art work. That he wanted to do something completely, entirely different. When the initial shock wore off, more than anything, I felt a deep sense of respect.
Humans are afraid of change, some of us are better at adapting than others. But most of us are afraid to proactively change what works for us, much less abandon it altogether. Often, we would live in a trap of our own making, because safety feels better than the unknown. To push and push, not just do a piece as an experiment to test the waters, but to keep pushing, that power of will and commitment is not easy to muster and sustain.
For this fearlessness and resoluteness, Noah continues to be someone who astonishes and inspires me both as an artist and as a person.
This book holds a collection of over 15 years of works from a daring, creative, and artistic mind. As you observe the evolution of Noah’s style, themes, and subject matters, perhaps, with these words in mind, you will perceive them just a little differently than at their face values. I hope that just as it were for me to follow along on his journey, it would be for you, also, an inspirational, breathtaking, and magical experience.
Not in the books, but examples of new work that he's doing: