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Meet Lyena Kang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lyena Kang.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My story begins with my love for understanding people and their emotions. I have always been naturally intuitive and an open book when it comes to meeting new people. If you just have one conversation with somebody, you can immediately feel their energy and presence in the way they talk and through their body language. What I love the most about what I do as an artist, is that I get to connect with amazing, creative people who work their asses off on a daily basis. I feel that so many artists are desensitized by this industry and the deeper I got into it I realized that there were voices NOT being heard. This includes one’s own voice as well because societal expectations have hindered our way of thought. I find that the only way to have your voice heard is to allow yourself to chase after the freedom that you want. Everything else will fall into place. This is exactly what I did, I graduated college with a bachelors in Psychology but realized that I would not be helping this world if I was a therapist at 22 in grad school. Instead, I have always believed that small changes in one’s mind and even in one’s community can impact the world even more.

In college, I remember one of the best feelings was finishing a final as fast as I could, then hopping on a train to LA. I got into modeling through a friend in high school who showed me firsthand what a community of artists supporting artists looked like. It was at the April Love Pro Makeup academy that I knew my purpose, and how to fulfill it. After meeting so many different personalities and listening to the stories of all the students there, whether it was a high school student, a mother, a grandmother I listened to each voice that was not yet heard. I met so many beautiful people who were trying to figure out their life, take a break from their planned life they have lived for so long, and ones who wanted to learn a new skill. It was a plethora of emotions that I would consume when meeting the MUA for the first time, to the makeup application process, and the photoshoot collaboration. In just a couple of years working here as a beauty model, I developed a family and a second home where I felt that I belonged and wasn’t playing any other role besides my own. I was essentially in an environment that helped me realize my potential and love for the creative arts.

Organically, I sought out a community where I could voice those concerns that I had for desentized artists and aspiring ones as well. Instagram was the only platform I knew at the time where you can share your photos and interact with people from all over the world. At first, it became a photography blog, where I mainly posted self-portraits to release my inner creative drive because it had been suppressed for so long. Naturally, I was able to attract mentors and other artists who are now my closest friends, to create and grow with me because I needed that guidance to push me. I needed to put myself in a NEW environment, for me that was discovering LA for the first time with my best friends. I started to shoot more and more and each time I thirsted for more interaction, knowledge, and friendship. Without even knowing or realizing I became my own boss, having the ability to decide who to create with and how. How to respond to clients and inspire them by “my story” I put it in quotation marks because it shouldn’t be called one’s story, it really should be called the hardest decision of one’s life. A story sounds simple, but we all know that making a decision and sticking to it is the toughest. It’s called a hustle for a reason, I never regret any decisions that I made along this journey because it was all part of the process.

Knowing that I Lyena Hironaka Kang, small-town girl who takes the metro from San Bernardino to DTLA has the ability to connect and create with phenomenal artists from all over the world it blows my mind. In just a couple of years I worked my ass off, and I have achieved so many blessings including having the honor to have two billboards for Beauty Con, one for Coachella and one at the Grove LA, booking a Wet N’ Wild makeup campaign, booking Sebastian and Wella hair campaigns, and creating a spec commercial for Dior.. in just one year is INSANE. Now I am in a place where I am constantly getting work for beauty and fashion campaigns that are my worth and I know it is because I stand up for myself and others. If you want to go fast then go alone, but if you want to go FAR go together. I am where I am because of my family, my love, and my amazing friends, Matcha, Lloyd, Talon, Kaley, and Bri Meejoo who have helped me EVERY step of the way on the worst and best days. All I have is gratitude and love for them.

Please tell us about your art.
In the work that I do as a freelance artist (model/actress), I find that each shoot is a different narrative that helps me be one step closer to understanding who I am and what my higher purpose is. When you are consistently doing something you love, that energy takes precedence over the negativity in your life. For that split second when the camera is on, I forget who I am and the troubles that I have, instead I get to reinvent myself as a badass, confident, and inspiring artist. Everything that I want to be, we are the creators of our own destiny and when you are able to really feel yourself and acknowledge your potential, even for a split second the world looks different to you. I believe as humans we all share these values of wanting to belong somewhere, wanting to feel valued, wanting to feel appreciated, and wanting to be someone else for a change. We live in a world where we are repeatedly desensitized to everything around us, where we lose that connection that makes us human and I’m just fighting for that empathic connection through my voice and art.

If anyone comes across my work, the only thing I want them to know is that ANYONE can do anything as long as they are passionate, perceptive, and CONSISTENT.

Passionate – BE PASSIONATE in everything you do. Put all your focus into your beliefs and you will have the power to manifest anything you want. Value yourself while you are passionate and appreciate others around you who are hustling just as hard as you. Show them love that they have never experienced before and show yourself that you can do anything.

Perceptive – BE PERCEPTIVE in every situation you are in. When you can truly understand your environment, what it needs, how to fulfill these needs, and nurture it you have figured out how to belong. Now the next step is to be perceptive of YOURSELF, what do you need? What do you want? What are your goals? And how will you achieve it? Ask yourself these questions everyday and remind yourself of who you are.

Consistent – BE CONSISTENT in the environment that you are in and the energy you take in. You can have your highs and lows, but you have to know how to get yourself up, hype yourself up. Create again, shoot again, meet new people again, and allow the creative freedom to literally free yourself of everything you have been suffocating from. As long as you stay consistent, and keep going the world is at your fingertips and what you can create is limitless.

My goal is not to make you like/dislike my photographs. It’s not about that superficial level of judgement; all I want is to make you feel something that you haven’t felt before. I am an emotional human being and as an artist I feel so much, I go through intense creative highs and lows that continuously cycle. Thus my only antidote is creative freedom; it gives me the chance to express what I’m going through, I find that deep down my desire to heal others has been a disguised cry for help for my own healing.

As I go through this process of mental healing, I find that I don’t want to be alone because I am trapped with my own thoughts, that devour my mind in an instant telling me “I’m not good enough, I won’t make it, I’m not worthy of anything..” It is in these moments where I realized it is so much easier to understand strangers, rather than our own family and even friends. Sometimes I need to escape my mental bubble, my close environment and put myself in a completely new one that allows for me to educate myself, meet new people, and just listen to what others have to say. I am here to understand myself and help others understand who they are, not to be understood by society.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
“Modern life estranges us more and more from our true nature, making it very easy for us to lead lives lacking in meaning. Powerful forces and incentives (money, power, attention, success) distract us on a daily basis; don’t let them take over your life.” – IKIGAI

You can get out of this mindset, you just really need to reflect on yourself and re-prioritize your life. The one thing you need in your life is LOVE; it’s about committing to someone or something in your life. You have to learn how to motivate yourself again. Push yourself to get up and be productive. You need to set goals again. You need to find out who you are again. It’s okay to feel lost, alone, abandoned, but it WILL PASS. Time will heal you I promise. I have been through everything and I’m here standing. For me, I actually sought out creating with other artists to lessen the feeling of loneliness and to find MEANING in my life.

Know that it is OK to ask for help; it is OK to want to be with other people than just by yourself. Listening always helps, empathizing, relating, and talking about the same struggles lets you know that you are never alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to artists that you admire, just by showing them love you would be surprised at how beautiful people can be. Don’t fear rejection because it will happen, it gets easier each time but it never hurts to collaborate with other amazing artists as a passion project, where each artist feels valued, appreciated, and even excited to work together. My biggest tip is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t let fear control you, turn this “feeling of uncertainty” into excitement and something new to experience! Having this mindset and being consistent with it, you will forget about all the superficial nonsense and you will be able to focus on a higher purpose.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
SHOT BY @vicovelezphotography, MAKEUP BY @werkhunty, HAIR BY @silverscreenvanity, STYLED + DESIGNED BY @issiewingzstylist (Allen Houston mag cover); @emcosmetics CAMPAIGN 🌹, MUA: @tksmakeup & @alyssafall, SHOT BY @joy.wong & ASSISTED BY @stellared CREATIVELY DIRECTED BY @pilar_zeta, STYLED BY, ASSISTED BY @baut.sta (Black mullet hair with dark lip orange bg); SHOT BY + CREATIVE DIRECTION @sequoiaemmanuelle USING @katvondbeauty, HAIR BY the dopest @imlachanda, MAKEUP BY the sickest @juscallmetara (Photo with red nails + wet hair); SHOT BY THE AMAZING @djenebaaduayom, HAIR BY @kodibeverlin, MUA: @amyrichardsonmakeup (Red outfit, red headband, on bed with black hair); SHOT BY @mdanielsphoto, MAKEUP BY @alexjairus, HAIR BY @gabriellamsharma (Red string, shibari tied to head); SHOT BY THE AMAZING @larettahouston, MUA/HAIR BY THE SICKEST @tatiyanaelias (Pearl face);SHOT BY @amandaa, STYLED BY @yukasaur (Valfre, standing on roof with black hoodie);SHOT BY THE AMAZING @thesecore, MAKEUP BY THE BEAUTY @ggs_journey, HAIR BY THE SICKEST @fearless_fever, STYLED BY @styledbyfranzy, THANK YOU TO @christinamhair for casting me 🙏 (Group photo Sebastian)

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