Chris Chun: Redefining Chinoiserie

Words by: Chris Chun and Tanya Singh
Photo Credit: Chris Chun


Bringing a distinctly modern twist to traditional Chinese art, Chris Chun redefines chinoiserie with vibrant patterns and a love for nature.



An Australian artist with Chinese heritage, Chris creates originals and limited-edition prints that showcase a beautiful and delicate marriage between contemporary illustration and traditional Chinese art. Coined as 'Chunoiserie', his style is defined by vibrant colors and patterns combined with his love of nature and the environment. His incorporation of visual storytelling and symbolism result in an emotional connection with buyers who appreciate the meaning in each piece and want to own a piece of ‘everyday beauty’.


Could you tell us a little bit about your background?


I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Growing up in the 70’s in a Chinese household, I was always surrounded by color and bold patterns. I had lacquer green cupboard doors and Marimekko curtains. There was palm leaf wallpaper in the kitchen and a lot of Chinese antiques and artwork around the house.

I have always loved to draw and create. In the school holidays, I was always doing something creative from calligraphy to pottery to macrame to candle making. I knew I had some talent when all the kids in my Grade 2 class asked me to draw their Easter Bunnies. Like most kids from Chinese households, I was destined for a career in law or medicine even though I didn’t love it. It was what you did. But then I saw this movie called “Dead Poet’s Society” which was a real lightbulb moment. It showed me how important it is to follow your passion and so I convinced my parents that I wanted to do something artistic. I had no idea what I was actually going to specialize in but I knew that I would make it.

I feel very blessed and fortunate to say that I am still doing what I love, and I have been working as an artist/designer for over 25 years. I have worked in Italy, UK, Thailand, and Taiwan and I collaborate on a wide variety of projects with select clients all around the world.




Most of your artwork feature chinoiserie in a contemporary light. What is the story behind “Chunoiserie”? When and how did this unique style come about?


As I am a 2nd generation Australian born Chinese, my artwork and style is very much influenced by how I grew up. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to grow up embracing both cultures. Chunoiserie is a reflection of this – East meets West. I am inspired by the traditional arts and crafts of Asia but my style is very much Australian in spirit (colorful, optimistic, and modern).

Chunoiserie is a term I made up which perfectly describes my work – a distinctly modern twist on traditional Chinese art that combines vibrant color and pattern with my love of nature and the environment.


Tell us about your creative process from start to finish.


There is always a story behind everything I do. I like to spend a lot of time researching, either online or just going to a bookshop, and art gallery, or a museum. Once I have some ideas, I then try to refine this into tangible concepts by creating some storyboards to show style and color direction. Then, I do some sketches and execute the final artwork.




What inspires you as an artist to create?


Mother Nature inspire me. I think the natural world is so inspiring. I love traveling, meeting new people, shopping, books, films, music. I can find inspiration everywhere. My aim whenever I make something is to inspire, delight, and create a connection with the viewer.


Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with nature and the sustainable materials you use in your artworks?


I always try to print on sustainable papers if my printers have them in stock. My favorite are made by Awagami Factory – an 8th generation family run paper mill in Tokushima, Japan, who make the most beautiful washi papers. I also believe in supporting local businesses wherever possible. I have trusted printers that I use in Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and the UK. This also reduces my carbon footprint with international postage.

With some of my artworks, a percentage of sales also goes to supporting various organizations which look after endangered species and the environment.


Azure Dragon and The Lovers - Orange


Please introduce your CNY 2023 series to us. What inspired it? How do elements from the East and West come together in the works?


The Chinese Zodiac 2023 Series is all predominantly created in an elegant blue color palette, inspired by Chinese blue and white ceramics. Each animal combines traditional Asian symbolism with contemporary Western sensibilities to bring good fortune, health, and happiness to their owner. I try to reflect the qualities of each animal as well as reflect the element of that particular year.

For example, 2023 is the Year of the Water Rabbit so my aim for this artwork was to reflect the gentle nature of the rabbit as well as the water element. Taking inspiration from the exquisite embroideries found on court robes from the Qing Dynasty, stylized waves and graceful water currents give way to the powerful dragon and the wise turtle (both animals that are highly revered in Chinese culture).

Incorporating both Asian and Western motifs, which also reflects my Australian Chinese heritage, my Water Rabbit symbolizes a new beginning, refreshing hopes for a peaceful 2023 filled with prosperity, health, and happiness. 


Water Rabbit and Lucky Rabbit


What are you currently working on?


I am currently putting the finishing touches to my next show titled Lucky Rabbit – a Celebration of Chinese New Year at the Museum of Chinese Australian History in Melbourne, Australia. The exhibition opens on 20 January and is on until 14 March.

The exhibition is immersive and interactive and reveals the stories and history behind this significant cultural festival, one that is filled with mythology, symbolism, superstition, taboo, family traditions, ritual, celebration, and hope for the future.