Interview and photos by Monica Rojas
multimedia artist photographer and director jayne lies
Where are you from?
Hong Kong, worldwide.
What were you like as a 16 year old?
I was a black sheep. Quite the same as I am now, I was rejecting a lot of things and finding the way I like things to be.
Why do you consider yourself to have been a black sheep?
I was that girl who put on her uniform different than the way everyone else did and I didn't fuck with Canton Pop like everyone else did in school. I always got sent to detention for the way I wore my uniform or for skipping class or for something I said. But I never went. I was the loudest without talking. But that's not something I did on purpose, it was just me. Like who made all of these rules? I hated everything and everything was just kind of funny to me.
How was it growing up as an artist in Hong Kong?
It was hella difficult, it was degrading and not even considered a thing. The only teacher I'd talk to in school told me not to be a photographer because I'd be stuck in a studio taking portraits of families and would never make any money. That's also how my family understood art, that's how 98% of the people there understood art. It never came to my mind to 'be an artist' either.
Did your parents support your lifestyle?
My mom is a very traditional Chinese woman, at that time, she wanted me to work a 9-5 job until I married a rich guy. My family was going through some fucked up shit when I was graduating High School, so it was a mess. Actually I had to work to support them after I dropped out from my last two years of High School. They thought I was being a rebellious teenage punk and that it would pass, but I still am.
How did you cope?
All I knew was that I loved taking photos. I did it everyday with my boys and girls and we were just having fun. I tried to look for an apprenticeship but no one would take me because I never went to art school, no resume or any of those things. So then I tried conforming to society, I got a full time job and taught a Pre School class, haha. During that time I couldn't function at all. I was like "WTF, why am I even trying", I lost my mind and escaped Hong Kong.
What were you feeling after you left Hong Kong?
I thought to myself, "this is how life should be". We should be able to do what we want, when we want, how we want to. And i was sad and glad about the was I was brought up. I can see now how the universe connects the dots.
How were you developing your photography?
I honestly don't know how to answer that. I feel like it has its own life and it developed on its own, through me and through my environment. Like if I were in love, the state of mind I was in. After moving to New York I started working on a lot of big shoots and interning, so that helped a lot in a technical way and it got my mind right again.
What was your aesthetic like? What kind of subjects were you photographing?
I like to emphasize beauty in 'ugly' things and I like gross things and 'the moment'. I shoot a lot of portraits of my friends and am very resourceful with my environment- light, shadows, the sky, the floor, a piece of paper, a smile, anything I find that is tangible or intangible as long as it feels good. Also, I have a set design and props background so that was a big part.
Did the pressures of society shape your minds eye?
01%. I am a Pisces, I am not down with wack shit, the more I feel pressured the more I will speak the truth. Freedom is everything to me. We are blessed to be able to express ourselves in our own individual ways and to have the opportunity to influence others.
Do you think you will ever go back to China?
I would go anywhere.
How would you describe your current aesthetic?
It's chaotic, but well constructed. It could be very simply archaic. Layers within a simple image is what I go for these days. If it stirs you up, you know that's a real one.
Who or what are your greatest influencers?
Chris Cunningham. Bjork. Kurt Cobain. Issey Miyake. Wong Kar Wai. Stanley Kubrik. My mother. Mother Earth.
Frozen rose shattered print on pillow by Lies // Bootleg Prada handbag painted with anti fast fashion verse by Lies.
What kind of projects do you enjoy working on the most?
"LIES and Friends". Music videos because I love music. And last year my documentary project with AllDayEveryday- "The Voices of Chinatown" was dope.
Lately, I see you've been working through various mediums, what kind of things are you working on other than photography? What can we expects to see from you in the near future?
Yeah, its fun to incorporate everything into everything. I've been working on this visual film series that I shot, co-produced, and styled featuring producer MNTN on the soundtrack. The first part is releasing soon! On the low, I am also working on a photo book where I slide in some Chinese elements with painting and writing. I'm designing a new website for my work which will include my custom Chinese calligraphy painted on various accessories and clothing. There may be a solo show coming up later this year featuring all of my work ~.^ !!