INTRO

Chen Man is a Chinese fashion photographer and artist who has become one of the most acclaimed icons in the industry. She has shoot movie stars from all around the world and regularly contributes to major fashion companies like Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire. Chen Man is one of the first photography majors accepted to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China’s most prestigious art academy. She has also been credited by the fashion industry for helping to evolve China’s beauty aesthetic. Although her collections are thoroughly modern in execution and appearance, Chen Man’s photography often references traditional Chinese culture.

LIFE

Chen Man was born in Beijing in 1980 and grew up amidst the Cultural Revolution in what was considered a traditional Hutong neighborhood that was under the shadow of the Forbidden City. The famous photographer is a part of the last generation of the Chinese one-child policy.

The Cultural Revolution meant she grew up in the capital’s historic tightly-woven neighborhoods. Chen man often describes her early childhood like as a time when food was sparse in the winter, neighbors lived in close quarters, and space was communal. It was a period in time that has shaped her outlook on life and turned her into the photographer she is today.

Her parents sent her to professional children’s painting classes when she was only just 3 years old, and this was the birth of her creativity. Chen Man states:

“While other children went on holiday, I was always painting. I always stared at people. People were actually uncomfortable about that. I used to want to draw court portraits, like for the wanted posters. I’m still painting a lot.”

Eventually, this would lead her to her love of photography.

EDUCATION

Chen Man is famously known for being accepted into one of China’s most prestigious schools, the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Majoring in photography, she also studied painting and graphic design.

“The reason I majored in photography is that I trained too much as a painter, so when I went to college, I wanted to start something new. And I like to be in contact with real people, not just be indoors and not go out.”

Chen Man is heavily educated in the creative arts, having started at the young age of three. But even education couldn’t tame her, and her career blossomed when she was still in college.

CAREER

Chen Man’s first big breakthrough into the fashion industry was in 2003 when her unique photography style was discovered while she was still studying at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The young photographer photographed a series of covers for Vision, China-based magazine that focused on design and art. In producing these amazing covers, she helped usher in a new generation of artists. Her focus was on those who wished to combine old Chinese sensibilities with modern techniques to create art. Since Chen Man’s first big breakthrough, she has gone on to have her pictures featured in other publications such as Vogue China, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Madam Figaro, Preference, Nylon, Unlimited, and Esquire.

Chen Man’s collections of photography have also been featured in a number of galleries and museums across the globe. Her most notable feature includes the China Design exhibition in 2008 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was here that one of her pictures was used to publicize the special exhibit. Chen Man has also had her several of her most famous works on display at the Hotel Royal Monceau in Paris in an exhibit called Demolition Party. Other notable places that have featured her incredible photography include Fabien Fryns Fine Art gallery in Los Angeles, Hai Gallery in London, Gallery Joyart in Beijing, Galerie Loft in Paris, OOIBOTOS Gallery in Hong Kong, Galerie Maeght in Paris, and Today Arts Museum in Beijing.

In addition to these incredible achievements,  Chen Man now owns her own studio, Studio 6, based in Beijing, and is actively producing advertising campaigns for brands such as L’Oréal, MAC, Dior, Canon, Guess, Hublot, Carl F. Bucherer, Sharp, Beats, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Motorola, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Uniqlo, Budweiser, Absolut Vodka, Shiseido, and Maybelline.

She now hoped to head back to college and study film.

COLLECTION

Chen Man’s photography is most famously known for manipulating the photography to look like graphic art. This technique results in heavily processed images which have gained both positive and negative attention in the fashion industry.

“Because I drew people a lot in my childhood, I’m very attuned to details. When I shoot celebrities, I make them look better.”

Chen Man went to a school for the love of painting and theatre and also worked as a casual graphic designer to earn extra money before being accepted into the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Because of all these talents, she likes to incorporate them into her photography to make something incredible.

Many international icons come to China simply for the fact that Chen Man likes to shoot for the exposure. She believes that the more exposure there is, the more opportunities there are for people to have conversations with the photograph. However, sometimes things get lost in the translation of a photograph, so Chen Man likes to use a visual language, which doesn’t need translation, to convey a more well-rounded, three-dimensional story in her work.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CHEN MAN

1. The photographer that Chen Man most looks up to is Liu Xiangcheng. He is a news photojournalist and was the first Chinese person to win a Pulitzer for photojournalism. The reason why Chen Man likes him is not that he won a Pulitzer, but because he grew up in a time when it was very difficult in China, during the Cultural Revolution, yet he was able to maintain his humor.

2. Many people say that Chen Man’s work isn’t photography, they say it’s graphic design or art because she uses so much post-production. However, she has stated on numerous occasions that she welcomes the criticism because it allows her to view herself from the other side, and that way she can improve.

3. Very much like the genesis of Qeelin, which combines Western aesthetics with Eastern motifs, the fusion of different cultures is also the core of Chen’s artistic philosophy.

4. Chen Man has a lot of respect for actors. She believes they are fascinating because they are always channeling somebody else’s life by portraying different characters.

5. Her secret to the perfect shot – “I would like to thank the universe for giving me this great talent, but it was also acquired through long-term professional training. There are no rules. If there are, then it would be too easy to be imitated by others.”