Our collaborator Rebecca had the opportunity to meet Pei Pei Huang from Paper Residency in Shanghai and learn about this unique residency that is combined with a co-working space, hotel and branding agency. 

China Residencies: Can you talk a bit about Paper?

Pei Pei Huang: We provide a co-working space to facilitate people to cooperate and partner up in joint projects. We are very open and want to attract people from the design world and artists from all over. We want them to come here, stay in our rooms and to create. We also have a specialized “Artist in Residency” project, with a focus on art cooperation. For instance, the paintings that you see hanging there on the wall are from the first artist who participated in this project. For the artist in residency, we arrange a preview of their work to the public before they arrive at Paper. We might the ask the artist what kind of things they would like to achieve in terms of the Chinese art market, or in which direction they see themselves developing. 

Paper's co-working space

CR: Is there a separate gallery space or does common space serve as gallery space?

PH: We feel that this space is the most suitable as an internal space. There is also a small lobby on the fifth floor which is for the hotel guests. We will also display works there. But if we want to do a bigger exhibition we will outsource somewhere else. With the current artist, we have plans for a big exhibition in 2018 and this past month we had a small exhibition here in this space.  

Common space gallery

CR: Do you have connections with collectors or do you typically prefer to collaborate with galleries for this purpose? 

PH: We have our own collectors and the artists will create works here. On the fifth floor there is an artist, Xiang Zhujin, who does calligraphy work. We work with artists in lots of different ways; we really want to have a much stronger collaboration with them.

CR: So this space downstairs is a co-working space?

PH: Yes this is a co-working space and there is a hotel upstairs. we find this model to be more attractive to people. We are quite interested in building a global network, and the artists when they come they are interested in finding collaborators or partnerships, discussing possibilities, having meetings, displaying their artworks. It’s pretty convenient here because you can live here and there are also hot desks where to work from for our VIPs. So in the future if you are a Paper VIP you can go to any of the Paper branches in the world and use the hot desks. As well you can stay in all Papers for the night and you don’t need to think about where to go if you need a place to have a meeting.  

View of upstairs & downstairs

CR: What kind of costs do you cover for the artists? 

PH: We decide on a case by case basis. At this point there isn’t a standard.  

CR: Is there a participation fee?  

PH: In terms of participating we ask the artists to share some of their works with us and then we see if they fit with the Paper brand. If they are suitable we will start to explore the possible directions of the project.  

CR: What about the cost of the room etc.?

PH: In terms of the room, we go by the daily rate of the room and they can go through our wechat public account and book it. So right now we have one location for Paper and the other two locations are in the process of being developed. 

Rooms available at Paper

CR: Do you have a budget for travel and that sort of thing or you haven’t yet formalized these terms?  

PH: We still haven’t formalized a standard. If we have a resident, it’s usually because we have a discussion in process. And if we have a project, we also have a collaborator or a sponsor and we would discuss it with them on a case by case basis.  

CR: So the purpose of the residency is to find an artist who can contribute to your various projects. 

PH: Yes. 

CR: This is a relatively new model in China. What kind of projects have you done in the past? 

PH: We just launched Paper in October of 2017. Our first collaboration with an artist was with Pat Lee. We will have a big exhibition next year. After this we can think about how to work with other artists. So with Paper, our brand, when we work with other people it’s a kind of co-branding. 

CR: What is the procedure for artists interested in applying? 

PH: They can send their portfolio or profile to our official email account, which we always check. 

CR: There is no exact deadline. It’s more of a rolling application? Is there a fixed time for the residency, i.e. one month, three months? Or does it depend on the project?  

PH: We actually review all details case by case. We do lots of events and projects. Currently we have someone at Paper, Branding Shanghai. Branding Shanghai doesn’t really have their own resources in terms of artists, so we did a collaborations with them and Pat. We don’t have any requirements, bi-monthly or quarterly, it depends. So with Pat for instance in this case it’s rather long term, probably no less than two years.  

CR: So you are sort of a cross between a residency and an agency. 

PH: Yes.  

CR: What type of artists are you looking for? 

PH: Well when we collaborate with shopping malls we often approach performance artists, animation artists or installation artists. Just like you mentioned, think of us as an agency, there are lots of angles which we work on.  

CR: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal background? 

PH: I come from the field of PR and communications. The PR industry and the whole environment is changing; in this era, creative inspiration is becoming more important so we are focusing more on design, creativity and art, so we put emphasis on this liaison between art and design.

CR: Who else do you have that is involved in this process of helping the artists with their work and their projects?  

PH: Actually Helen Liu is very involved in the process of branding the artists. Jeff Fan is much more involved in the operations within Paper, the details, from dealing with the various collaborators to the final realization of the event. For me I tend to work more on the strategic side before the event, to brainstorm with everyone and figure out how to realize this particular concept. In general though, there is a lot of teamwork.  

CR: So the day-to-day things, for instance if the artist arrives at the airport, is there someone to greet them? Who is responsible for that?

PH: The artists will have their own agent that will arrange this kind of schedule.  

CR: But what if they don’t have their own agent or person who can do this for them?

PH: Well if they are staying here then we have our own concierge.  

CR: Do you introduce artist to curators or artists or other people in the Shanghai art scene or are you more focused on the project itself?  

PH: Well because we are an advertising company we have some contacts there. For instance, we have one tenant in the building who started off as a curator. In October there will be two fairly big events and we will bring the artists to participate in these events. 

CR: Can you tell me a little bit about the project Pat is doing right now?  

PH: Pat's project is called “INTERFERENCE”; in it he takes all of these characters and turns them into robots. He used to be an animator for manga, for companies like DC Comics. He has put theses characters together with robots. 

Pat Lee's "INTERFERENCE: Marilyn Monroe"

CR: Do you have other artists at the same time?  

PH: We sometimes have a theme that we focus on for a period of time and we focus on a particular artist. We might look for other artists like him who employ these kinds of “pop” colors, perhaps to collaborate with street art brands and do crossover projects. 

CR: So are you making art derivatives from the work?  

PH: We are making art derivatives right now. This series we have here is for sale but we will also make some merchandise from this work and we will start to promote them through the large exhibition in January which will be in a separate space outside. 

This interview was carried out by Rebecca Catching for China Residencies November 2017