Phillip Hua is a mixed media printmaking artist in San Francisco whose work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, and art fairs. In 2016, he was awarded a public art commission from the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for the redesigned 19th Street Oakland BART station. His work has been featured by art magazines and design publications including California Home + Design, Interior Design, and 7x7.
Shannon Kaye: Phillip, I love the color palettes you work with in your art. What role does color play in your work?
Phillip Hua: I use color to elicit emotion. It’s a lure, like a melody is to music. Then the lyrics are like my imagery, speaking to the audience in a language they can understand.
SK: Ah!, as a piano player and music lover, that makes so much sense to me. There are also so many images and references in your work. I see something new every time I look at one of your pieces. Your studio must be packed!
PH: My studio is in my home so the line between the two is very fuzzy. I have a lot of STUFF. My mom thinks our house looks like a natural history museum. Each thing that I hang in my home is communing with me in some way. There’s a reason that I’m drawn to it and by keeping it up, it’s sharing its power with me, or at least I hope.
SK: So, how do you go about choosing paint colors for your home that work with all of your 'stuff'?
PH: If I choose a bold color for an accent wall, I like to fill it with bold art and objects. Each bold color augments the power of the other. It becomes a crescendo. Then that accent wall becomes a statement wall.
SK: Oh, I love that! Most people think there's a rule that if your walls have color your furniture should be neutral and vice versa. But you're saying to go for it, make it your own, don't be afraid to make a statement. That's exactly how I feel.
PH: Yes, we recently painted an accent wall in our home with KM5044 Prismatic Springs. I love how deep and rich it is, how it makes art, furniture, and plants just pop against it. It’s lively and even though it’s a deep blue, it’s also got warmth to it.
KM5044 Prismatic Springs
SK: Sounds wonderful. Now, I know you take commissions for your work and have recently done several portraits for clients. But you also have a public commission you're just starting. Congratulations on that. Can you tell me anything about it?
PH: Well, the Southeast Community Center is a brand new building being built in Bayview District of San Francisco next year. There are a variety of stakeholders and all kinds of requirements to navigate. My goal is to make a work of art to stand the test of time and honor six black community leaders who, from humble backgrounds, advocated for their community tirelessly. I’m using a lot of gold leaf as a way to lionize them and honor the idea of community activism.
SK: Wow, that's a lot to consider. I'm sure you'll do something fantastic. Congratulations, that's a wonderful commission. Thanks for talking with me!