*The only reason, of course, to create imagined heartbreaks, is never having to admit to the actual ones
A Chat with Shing Yin Khor
I stumbled upon Shing's series on heartbreak one afternoon and was immediately drawn in by it. Scrolling through the collection took me on a trip down memory lane. We all have our own collection of heartbreaks, and though we may not have experienced every type here, we can certainly relate.
For me, the last illustration stood out, maybe because it's the one unlike the others - there are no figures, and it's dark, like an abyss. In a way, this one hit me the hardest and felt the most authentic - it renders heartbreak shapeless and all-encompassing...and isn't that how it feels sometimes?
Ellen: I noticed at the top of your comic it says "*the only reason, of course, to create imagined heartbreaks, is never having to admit to the actual ones." So I'm curious - were you going through a breakup yourself when you drew this? What inspired you to tackle this subject?
Shing: I've been quite happily married for a few years! I just about never write about sad things when I'm sad. I do it when I'm happy because I actually have the emotional and mental capacity to do so. I was revisiting some "heartbreak" playlists that I'd made, and I'd already drafted the vague outlines of this particular comic a few years ago, and it was raining. The timing was just right to finally complete it.
Ellen: Did your perspective on heartbreak change at all by going through this process of categorizing and illustrating?
Shing: I'm not sure what my perspective on heartbreak was, actually. I think it's always been the same. It sucks a lot, but the human capacity to feel so much emotion all at the same time is really kind of amazing. While not all of my decisions have been fantastic, I like the person I am now, and every heartbreak has contributed to me being this person. Having been unhappy and an idiot lends a lot of appreciation to the times when I am actually quite happy and not being an idiot.
Ellen: If you could go back to the last time you were really heartbroken, what would you tell that heartbroken version of yourself? What advice would you give her?
Shing: This too, will pass. The same advice I give myself when I'm feeling especially proud of myself, actually.
Ellen: Last question! What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
Shing: Oh my god, just one? Feist's 'I Feel It All,' without a doubt. But the runner ups would be Ben Folds' 'Don't Change Your Plans' which was eerily prescient at one point in time, even if it is incredibly specific. And Sally Seltmann's 'You Don't Know Me Anymore,' which is sort of empowering while remaining eternally melancholy.
About the Artist
Shing is a former theatrical painter, designer and propmaker. She makes awkward, charming, and awkwardly charming creatures trapped in a world of bumbling science and human fallibility.
Her themes are inspired by historical hoaxes, old museums, cabinets of curiosities and pre-Linnean taxonomy; her palettes are inspired by the more obnoxiously colourful parts of nature, especially invertebrates.
Born in Malacca, a port city of Malaysia – and raised between cultures on a diet of fantasy tropes and post-colonial detritus – Shing currently calls Los Angeles home. You can follow her on Twitter and Tumblr, and you can see more of her work on her website.