(credit: bikeriderlondon/shutterstock)

(credit: bikeriderlondon/shutterstock)

There’s a fresh crop of local artists on their way up, and now is a good time to learn their names and their work. From creature sculptures to street art photography, these fine Los Angeles artists are ones to watch.
Sean Chao

The art of Sean Chao is whimsical and fun, but also quite impressive. Chao creates miniature environments and sculptures that require delicate precision but include the charming imperfections only achieved being created by hand. Chao’s artistic expression was greatly influenced by watching his architect father draw when he was a child. Years of study has cultivated his ability into the talented artist he is today. The focus and concentration each piece demands is meditative for Chao, but he confesses it takes him longer to come up with the concept then to build them. “I don’t sketch first. I’ll spend hours thinking about how I want it to look and then go to work. When the sculpture matches my vision, it’s very rewarding.” Chao has always been fond of animals and often makes them the focus of his creations including his Chow, Nunu. You can find Sean Chao’s works of art at Giant Robot 2 on Sawtelle Blvd in Los Angeles and in September at the Disney WonderGround gallery at downtown Disney.

Polina Hristova

Polina Hristova is one of Hollywood’s up and coming concept artist. Hristova specializes in creating characters and environments for video games, animation and film. She has an impressive resume that includes Lucas Film Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2 and Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity. Hristova is a creature feature type of gal with a passion for creating aliens and animals of the fantasy realm. While some of her artisan heroes are J. C. Leyendecker, Syd Mead, Simon Lee and Ryan Church just to name a few, Hristova pulls most of her inspiration from mother nature and scribbling. “It’s like the ink blot test. I start scribbling and pull images from the mess.” She’s also expanding into sculpting as a new venture. While she takes great enjoyment creating her own pieces, a girl’s gotta eat. As an independent freelance artist, Hristova is currently working on a few projects bound by confidentiality.    
A sample of Polina Hristova’s work can be found on her website along with her contact information.

Angie Hu

Angie Hu is a multifaceted artist who excels in many fields. Her shows can be a collection of crafts, drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and photography. As a child Hu was influenced by anime, manga and animation with the intention of becoming a manga artist. But as the great niece of the famous Chinese painter Wu Cho Bun, Hu not only inherited his undeniable talent but also his love of cats. “Cats are my muse, my own cats are the inspiration behind many of my pieces.” Hu likes to use warm colors to add a sense of welcoming when viewing her works of art and her collections often include superheroes, fan art, manga and whimsical cats which put people in their happy place. In addition to be an incredible artist, Hu also has a great sense for business and is opening an art cafe in Taiwan that double as an art gallery and workshop. Don’t be surprised if there are a few resident cats at the cafe.
Angie Hu’s work can be seen at The Perky Nerd in Burbank with a show slated for September. She will also have a show beginning August 27th at the Sketchpad Gallery in San Francisco.
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Simon Lee

Unlike many successful artists, Simon Lee went through 40 years of his life (many of them as web programmer) before he discovered he was an artist and exceptional sculptor. At first his creature sculptures were nothing more than a hobby. It wasn’t until he was hired by professional sculptors Brandon and Jerry Shiflett to build a website that his skills were brought to his attention. Lee posted some of his own sculptures on the site as tests and the response was almost immediate. People wanted to buy the creatures he posted. From there he transitioned from web designer to professional sculptor and the rest is history. Lee has created sculptures, concept designs and characters for films like “Kong: Skull Island,” Star Trek Beyond,” “Maleficent,” “The Strain” and many more. He is currently collaborating with concept artist Wayne Barlowe on an extensive project.
You can view much of Simon Lee’s work on his website as well as purchase select pieces. You can also register for his online sculpting class.

Tony Salvagio

In the many cases where life imitates art, for street photographer Tony Salvagio life is art. Salvagio takes to the streets armed with a camera and an abundance of time searching for subject matter. Somedays it finds him. The spontaneity, the rhythm and the unpredictability of street life is what lures him around, across and through the city. Salvagio’s street scenes become a frozen moment of a chaotic ballet and his cityscapes like black and white poetry without words. “The beauty of street photography is that the world is constantly changing and I get to document these moments that only last a fraction of a second and immortalize them.” His original start in LA was to write for TV and film but became more interested in production. Salvagio bought a camera, took a few classes at Glendale Community College and photographed the Occupy LA movement as his first personal assignment. From there, Salvagio’s photographs have been published in magazines and won several awards.
Currently Tony Salvagio is building his collection for his next gallery showing. Follow him on Facebook or check his website for upcoming details.
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Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.