Novel Take on Art


Traditionally, artists bring their creative visions to life through mediums such as paint or pencil on paper. Breaking from the norm, senior Jennifer Lai takes a knife to wood to create her artwork, using a technique known as block art.
In this medium, artists use Exacto knives and carving kits to cut and chisel their work into a piece of wood or linoleum. They can then roll ink onto this carving and transfer the design onto a canvas, similarly to a stamp.
Lai was first introduced to this art style in her sophomore year in Diamond Bar High School’s AP Studio Art class, where she was tasked with completing two unique block prints for an assignment.
Art teacher Vianney Hwang said students tend to be attracted to this art form as it allows artists to mass produce their work.
“I would say usually two-thirds of the class would enjoy this process. The one-third that have their reservation would be because of how much labor and time goes into carving your design into the wood,” he said via email. “As long [as] the physical resistance is not overwhelming it is a wonderful process that students are really satisfied with.”
For the first one, she created a self portrait using the traditional single-layered technique. Lai said she created a reduction block print for her second piece that required her to create a multi-colored, layered print, whose subject was her brother.
“Personally, I was really fascinated with this project because I’ve learned paper tole and I really like carving,” she said via Instagram. Paper tole is a three-dimensional art style using paper.
Other than her prior experience with uncommon media like paper tole, Lai said she enjoys art block since it allows her to reprint designs as much as she wants.
“Unlike many kinds of traditional art, I can print as many of the same drawings as I want,” she said. “If I happen to mess up on the printing part, it’s no big deal because I can wash the ink off the block and roll new ink and print again.”
Lai first started studying art at four years old, and has continued to devote herself to this passion in different forms ever since.
“From posting stories on Webtoon [or] Wattpad to taking AP art, art has never been absent from my life,” she said.
She sees art as a form of relaxation and escape, drawing whenever and wherever she can, which usually requires a degree of resourcefulness.
“I always find ways to create art even when I’m missing certain materials,” she said. “When I’m outside, I might doodle on a piece of napkin at restaurants.”
To promote her artwork, Lai posts on her Instagram (@jenniferliarliar) as well as on Webtoon and Wattpad, which allow young creatives to post their original content for others to view and comment on. So far, Lai has started two webcomics but has taken a break from completing them due to school.
In the future, she plans to continue to pursue art and design as a career. Currently, she plans on double majoring in industrial design and accounting.
“Since art has been a part of my life since I was four, I do not wish to lose it when I’m older,” she said.