Interview with Candy Ken

I love the fact that Candy Ken is so confident. I’ve known him for a long time, and he has always known who he is and gave no fucks about what other people thought of him. He’s really his own art piece. He’s always pushing gender norms, showing us that we don’t have to fit into any boxes - it’s amazing. Also, his TikTok is funny!
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Interview with Candy Ken


Where are you based and what do you do?

I'm based in Los Angeles, and I am a unicorn. I like to challenge social concepts, gender norms, and stereotypes, and all kinds of rules and norms of our society, on a daily basis. I use my social media platforms to challenge my environment and encourage different ways of thinking outside the box, and not trying to fit in.

So it's like, your art is yourself.

It’s like performance art. But instead of going on stage, which I also do sometimes, I mostly use social media as my way of expressing myself.

Awesome. That kind of leads us directly into, what is your relationship to the digital space? With the development of the metaverse, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc. How do you see your work fitting into it, or subverting it within the current landscape?

Personally, I'm a huge fan of everything new and inventive. Before the internet, I felt very isolated. I grew up in a very small town and, you know, you always feel like the outsider, the black sheep, the person that doesn't fit in. Now everyone can find their niche. Everybody has a place in the metaverse. It's a beautiful way to express yourself. I think Nicola is also very attracted to new ways to be creative.

How would you describe your connection with Nicola?

For me, he is one of the I think, if not the most, influential person in my life. He’s one of the rare people who appreciated my form of expression from day one. Nicola is one of the rare people, especially in Hollywood who support things that are just strong. Maybe not in follower count, but he believes in true creativity. He supported me when I had like, 8000 Instagram followers. He just loved the looks I was creating with the Hello Kitty stickers on my face. He really changed my life back then. Sometimes it takes just one person to believe in you and support you.

You brought up Hello Kitty stickers earlier. You used to make work with literal physical stickers. How do you see your creative process in dialogue with the developments of the digital scape and the new possibilities of art?

The photos that we did for this magazine, it was only the physical stickers at first. But then we mixed the physical stickers with digital stickers CGI’ed on top of my portrait. So it melds together seamlessly. It's really cool how you can have the physical thing but also digital art at the same time. It's kind of cool to have both. I think it gives it that extra something.

Earlier you were talking about audiences and community. How big has the digital space been for your community building?

For me, I think TikTok changed everything. With TikTok, I was able to really expand my fanbase. And I found a much younger fanbase, which I think allows me to break open something in younger people who are still discovering who they are. It’s cool that I get to be there for them to show them they can break out of gender norms, and open them up to what’s possible.

Finally, is there any artist working in the digital sphere that excites or inspires you?

Takashi Murakami. I feel like he has this very old school comic style but he’s also not afraid of using new things and stepping into new ways of doing his art. He jumped right into NFTs, he’s always doing something new. I can’t wait to see what he’s gonna do in the metaverse.


—ニコラよりCANDY KENについて


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