I met Cassey Kuo at the MoCCA Fest this past April, where she shared a table with a handful of other upstarts in the illustration biz. Kuo sold me two square prints, which looked like animation cells from some lost 1950s Disney film, though, in fact, neither were. They weren’t, so says the artist, in service of any narrative.

Kuo calls herself a “2D Visual Developer and Illustrator” on her Facebook page… a “student” on Behance. Like a lot of young artists, she posts works in progress and preliminary sketches to friends and followers in the social media world.

Her style is something of a modern twist on Disney mainstay Mary Blair. There are also hints of Jack Davis. Kuo combines guilded fantasias of the west with the mystic tinges of Eastern culture. Her ballerinas and ballroom debutantes bump up against forest spirits, Japanese butoh figures, and anime-style robots with the same sense of fluidity that these subjects intermingle out in cyberspace. Kuo bonds them in a formal way, but she also goes beyond it.

It’s not hard to see her style one day servicing a host of new animated movies. But Kuo is also deft as a conceptualist. She takes the vernacular and finds the formal; she abstracts the illustrative so that her figures lose their narrative meaning en route to pure emotion. In the past, illustrators saw their works cropped by conceptualists outside the fields of animation and comics. These days, they do it themselves. (Brian Chidester)