I create because I must – Heidi Wong

Let’s get into a psychedelic world made of freedom and creativity. This incredible artist will show you how reality can be perceived when you have the synesthesia lens.

“I’m a twenty year old poet, artist, and influencer. I identify as third culture, since I’m originally from Hong Kong, went to an IB (International Baccalaureate) school in Beijing, spent most of my summers as a kid in New York and Pennsylvania, and now live in Upstate New York primarily. I also have synesthesia, which means I associate colors with words, numbers, and emotions. This condition is something I’m still learning about myself every day, but I’m able to channel and use towards my painting and poetry.”

Trying to trust you

When did you decide you would devote your life to art and poetry?I don’t remember it as a decision, but as an integral and natural part of my life. I started drawing, more like scribbling, at seven months old using anything I could find. My parents would always find me using my mom’s eyeliners and lipsticks to scribble on any surface I could reach. From that age till I attended art school on weekends when I was six, it wasn’t even a conscious decision to draw. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. Even the motion of moving a pencil and the idea of mark making felt natural.

Poetry came slightly later, but now I’m beginning to see a lot of my devotion to poetry stemming from my childhood as well. I always asked my parents to tell me stories, obsessively, for hours upon hours, every second of every day. I remember my parents reading me the Chinese picture book version of Hamlet when I was in first or second grade. So, although I started writing poetry at the age of fifteen, storytelling was always a part of my life. I also wrote novels between the ages nine to fifteen before branching into poetry.


How do your poems come to life?I “come up with” ideas for my poems in the most random ways. I don’t ever intentionally search for inspiration, nor to I plan a specific time in my day to write. Sometimes I wouldn’t have a new idea for almost a month, and I begin to think I no longer have it in me. Then at the strangest most unexpected times I’ll have a phrase or concept stuck in my head, and I would be drawn, instinctively and uncontrollably, to write it down. My best poems have taken me less than ten minutes to write. In the time that I’m writing, I’m taken over completely by the words themselves. I allow the poem to take over and speak its truth; I am just a vessel for it to bring itself into existence.

I want to be liked

What do you try to communicate with your paintings? Like writing poetry, I never create anything with the intention of inspiring or sending a particular message. In my opinion it’s very easy for an artist begin wanting to send an inspirational message out into the world, and end up as preachy. I create because I must, because it’s a part of who I am as a person. My paintings are about channeling my emotions into something tangible, and allowing my synesthesia to guide me in doing so. I let the colors I see through my synesthesia manifest themselves onto a canvas, and thus express a layer of my subconsciousness.

Venice at night

What is your main inspiration?I’ve always loved Sylvia Plath and Franz Kafka. If anything, their “strange” images and distinctive style have inspired me to be more authentic to myself. I also love the works of Van Gogh, who was also a synesthete.

What do you think is the future of art? I can see the future of art including many young artists with strong voices and identities— young people who know what they want and are willing to do what it takes to get it. I see the newer generation gaining confidence in their artistic voices and finding their unique styles, which makes me extremely proud. Personally I would especially love to see more multicultural young women of color pursue art and find success in their artistic endeavors.