Paul PJ Cheng is a fashion photographer and art director who has recently moved from Milan to Shanghai. He has worked for clients such as Appendix, Glamour Paris, and Elle, and here is an exclusive interview with the man behind the lens.
You have recently moved from Milan to Shanghai, what brought about this change?
Well I haven’t arrived to Shanghai yet. It’s my plan to move there within November. It’s all quite sudden, but I believe Shanghai, China, and Asia in general will be the ones going through some interesting growth, not just economically, but culturally as well in the coming times. I’m looking to start a new base there, but still have Europe within reach.
How do you feel each city motivates your work, and what would be the number one Milan and Shanghai experience you would recommend for visitors of each city?
Some people suggest that today it doesn’t matter where you are, so long as you have a good internet connection. Though I find myself on side of the belief that a city does influence you as much as you can influence it. Milan, is as amazing as it is terrible. The life there is as advertised; the people, the culture, the conversations, the aperitivo’s, the coffee, it’s all there. Though one has to remember that this does also include the strangeness of Italian behaviors, the endless amounts of red tape and so forth, their strange fear for technology. That’s the Milanese life, you have to enjoy it though! Again, this is awkward, but I haven’t actually been to Shanghai as of this moment, I am simply planning on moving there in November. I have recently been to China the first time in my life last month, to Beijing. It was for only one week for work however, I believe I will return.
When I am there, I will no doubt start a new kind of project, and then come ask me again, I promise to tell you all about it.
Appendix is a beautiful magazine, what is your role on magazine and how did you become involved?
Thank you! I am the Creative Director for Appendix, and I initiated with the help of close friends in Milan. Currently I am bit busy on other projects, and am still looking for publishers to participate in this project. Hopefully I can launch it officially soon.
You seem to be quite a multi-tasker with your fashion photography, blog ‘Paul is Here’ and Appendix Magazine, how do you find the time for all your creative pursuits and are you focusing on one outlet in particular at the moment?
I have a time machine. I wish. I would like to work faster and more actually. I am currently looking for help, to allow me to focus on my projects better. In the fashion industry I think people do ten times as much as I do…it’s quite fascinating to watch really.
I have read that you are inspired by the work of Erwin Blumfield and Ryan McGinley, what parts of their work are you drawn to when creating your own photography?
Well don’t quote me on that one, I think I just mentioned those because it was what I saw last before answering that question. I’m not very good at answering “What are your favorite so-and-so’s”. If you must know, Blumfeld was very interesting with his exploration of also his films. I’m fascinated by illustions. They’re very beautiful, the idea to allow the mind wonder how it was possible to do something seemingly impossible. McGinley, I’m not sure who doesn’t like his works, is very interesting with the way he interacts with his subjects.
You have described yourself as you are a self taught photographer, what attracted you to the fashion side of the practice?
I’m not sure, probably there is a specific reason. I think the way you construct fashion photography is quite interesting. To build the illusion, perhaps it’s that which attracted me.
What’s next on the cards?
Videos and short films. I can’t wait to get started.