Today we’d like to introduce you to Yingying Cao.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
When I was 11, my aunt let me borrow her camera to take photos. The camera gave me access to capture the littlest things around me. I was born in a small town in China, and I would spend a whole day walking around the entire town, taking photographs. The empty chairs that were left behind by a grocery owner, the bugs on the window screen, the withered leaves on the sidewalk… all these little things I found fascinating. When I was 15, I immigrated to America with my family. A new life in a completely new and different environment pushed me to take even more photos. To me, taking photos was only a hobby, I just didn’t want anything to be missed from my life.
Attending ArtCenter College of Design and majoring in photography was an absolutely unexpected thing due to many reasons, and I lost myself while I was trying to find who I am. My photographs became dark and I stopped carrying my camera everywhere with me. I was in a very miserable phase and I did not like who I became, so I took two semesters off, working two jobs at restaurants for two months, saved up all my money and I bought a ticket back to China for the first time in three years.
When I was traveling in Shanghai, a friend called me unexpectedly and asked me to go with her to her first modeling job and I went. The job took place in an unpopular art district area, I got bored with the photo shoot, so I started walking door to door to see all the small galleries and exhibitions in the area. A painting with these dreamy colors of a girl standing in an imaginary world caught my attention, I stood there for a long time and I started tearing up. Naohisa Inoue’s work touched my heart. I know it’s going to sound corny, but his work made me feel hope, it made me want to create something as whimsical too. After the trip back to China, I started photographing myself and explored what I was capable of. And on my very last semester before graduating, I pushed myself to take a fashion class because I was always too shy to photograph anyone, that decision along with the influence of Naohisa Inoue’s paintings inspired my work look like the way it is today.
Please tell us about your art.
I’m a fine art/fashion photographer currently based in Los Angeles. I care about the littlest details in my photographs, whether it’s in the color, light, makeup, outfit, props and gestures. I photograph people in a delicately chosen or created environment. I want to create a certain type of whimsical feeling or narrative in each of my photographs. I want people to see my work and be inspired to create.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Believe in what you do and what you love, and work extra hard to become the person you wanted to become. There will be times that you might feel like giving up, just stop whatever you’re doing and take a break, go somewhere, meet new people and come back with a fresh mind. Whenever you’re feeling lost or uncertain, just keep creating and you will eventually find a way.