Simplicity and Minimalism with Grant Yun


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Grant “Riven” Yun is a digital artist based in the United States most recognized for reimagining the 20th century art movements of American Regionalism and Realism in the digital age. With his works often compared to that of Edward Hopper’s, Grant focuses on creating powerful real-world landscapes with simplicity and minimalism. 

Calm Countryside
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Where does your inspiration come from?

My biggest inspiration comes from places in the real world. Originally from San Jose, California, when I first came to Madison, Wisconsin for my undergraduate degree, I was shocked by the stark contrasts in landscapes. The never-ending farmland, the bright green colors, the types of trees, the architecture of homes of the Midwest really sparked my creative side and made me wants to explore these themes through my art. 

Rolling Hills
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Prior to illustrating landscapes, I was a graphic designer. When I began my most famous series “Midwest” I wanted to tap into that background of graphic design and try to do a lot with a little. I think minimalism can speak volumes when it is done properly. I picked a small set of colors and shapes and really began to depict my life here in Wisconsin. Now that I have completed the “Midwest” series I am focusing on finding inspiration from my childhood and bringing to life the beautiful landscapes and cityscapes of the Bay Area. 

Nighttime In The Neighborhood
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Who are some of your favorite artists?

I find it quite funny that people often compare my art to that of Edward Hopper’s and other American Realist painters of the 20th century. Only after I started my “Midwest” series did I begin to look at Hopper’s work. It was heartwarming to know that my vision for art shares similar themes as many artists who have come before me. I think of it a little like convergent evolution. However, once I began illustrating minimal landscapes, I wanted to re-explore these particular art genres that artists such as Hopper or Grant Wood popularized. American Regionalism and American Realism are now two of my favorite genres of art. As I continue to create, I hope to showcase the digital space my interpretations of these particular genres.  

An Afternoon In Gilroy
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Can you describe a little bit about your process? How does an illustration go from an idea to a complete composition?

A good friend of mine out here in Wisconsin, Kenechi Unachukwu, is a renowned film photographer. Many of his recent works have been documenting the Wisconsin landscape and so we take long drives out into rural Wisconsin where all we see are these breathtaking scenes of rolling hills and farmland. This is where the seed is planted. I snap some photos and create a composition in my head. From there it is straight to my computer. With a mental sketch I have in my head I go to illustrating. To be honest the hardest part about creating these pieces is picking the right colors. Colors in an illustration will make or break your composition and sometimes I sit on my computer for days on end just rearranging colors until I am satisfied. As a perfectionist, I am willing to spend hundreds of hours into finding the exact colors I need for an illustration. 

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What are your plans for the future?

Currently I am an MD candidate at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI. While studying to become a future physician may be stressful, it has not taken away my love for art. Through SuperRare and the NFT space, I have been able to meet many new artists and art collectors. I have tons of collaborations coming up in the coming months. In terms of long-term outlook, I hope to continue showcasing my collections in both physical and digital art galleries. 

Somewhere In San Francisco
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