Grace Chen ’24 builds bridge between traditional art forms, digital design – The Brown Daily Herald

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When Grace Chen ’24 is struck by artistic inspiration, she can envision the final product before she begins working.

“I like to look at references,” Chen, known on Instagram as “Gravie,” said. “Then I’ll dive into how to craft (the piece) in terms of what the materials, colors and compositions will look like.”

As a visual art and computer science double concentrator on the design track, Chen’s artistic talents range from oil painting to 3D animation. Art and design encompass a large part of Chen’s life, serving as both a professional opportunity and a hobby. 

“On campus, a lot of the art that I do is painting, sound art and drawing, but I also do a lot of digital art and design,” Chen said. She added that she does more design work off campus, both for freelance projects and her own enjoyment.

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Chen was introduced to art from sketching lessons when she was five years old. As she got older, she began exploring more mediums and now considers painting her primary art form.

“My interest in graphic design stemmed from taking art lessons, like color theory and composition,” she added. 

“I like being able to make physical, tangible things that exist outside of me,” Chen said. Although she enjoys seeing others’ reactions to her art, she maintains that her main goal is to create for herself. “Mainly, it’s for myself to have this vision of what would look good, and being able to achieve that is very satisfying,” she explained. 

Across her various art forms, Chen has experience working both individually and collaboratively. “More of my group involvement comes from my animation,” she said. “Currently, I’m helping with art direction for this short film that around 12 of us are working on.” Chen added that she has contributed to many facets of the film, including storyboarding, animating, editing and sound design.

“I think (Grace) is incredible at art direction, specifically from an animation point of view,” said Adelle Clark ’24, who has collaborated with Chen on animated short films. “There’s a whimsical, curated color palette and style that I can attribute to her. Not everyone at this point in (their) career has developed that.”

Chen and Clark are currently collaborating on a short film for the class CSCI1950-T: “Advanced Animation Production.” 

“Initially, the story was submitted by Grace, and we took it and workshopped it,” Clark said. “She’s very good at storytelling and bringing that through the art.”

Isabel Lukas ’24, Chen’s friend and roommate, feels that Chen’s work carries a unique atmosphere. “When I think of Gravie’s art, I think of asymmetrical stars, super cute doodles, warm colors and food,” Lukas wrote in a message to The Herald. “There is always both a playful and emo tone to her pieces that I love, love, love.” 

For Chen, her favorite projects include leading Hack@Brown’s branding design, which she described as her “first foray into 3D modeling.” She also cited a painting she completed last year, which was “the largest painting (she) has ever worked on” and “captured a lot of the emotions (she) was feeling at the time.”

Chen is also working on her senior show for the visual art concentration, which will be displayed at the end of the year. She added that she has begun working with silk screen printing for the first time and described it as “a good intersection of illustration and design.” 

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Beyond Brown, Chen hopes to continue working in art. “Whether it’s professionally or just for myself, I hope I never stop making art,” she said. “Eventually, it would be great to be able to have my own studio.”

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