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Susie Oh is a Brooklyn-based painter inspired by the mythical and the mystical. Her illustrations and prose can be found at, and you can follow her on Tumblr as nemozero or as amorphophallus_titanum.

She provided art for this week’s story, “The Wreck at Goat's Head” by Alexandra Manglis.

This interview was conducted by email in November 2016.


Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?

Susie Oh: I've always loved drawing and went on to study illustration at Pratt Institute.

© 2012 Susie Oh, "Alchemist"

© 2012 Susie Oh, "Alchemist"

Tory Hoke: Your work combines rounded shapes and soft textures with vibrant patterns and colors. How did you develop this style? What effect would you like your work to have on your viewer?

Susie Oh: I usually place a wash across my surface before I do any sketching. The colors dictate the mood, and then I find the forms. I also love the "flatness" of classical East Asian painting, and the deliberate unreality of European medieval art: the heavily molded, sculptural shapes in skewed planes. I think the disorienting effect, somehow, tells a more psychological truth than a perfect rendering in three-point perspective.


Tory Hoke: Tell me about your Homunculus series. The images are charming and upsetting at the same time. What inspired these?

Susie Oh:
I love Renaissance images of the homunculus: a miniature, fully grown human circulating through the semen or blood. So I use these ageless, genderless, featureless characters to express mental states that I can't articulate in words.

© 2015 Susie Oh, "Knot Undone"

© 2015 Susie Oh, "Knot Undone"


Tory Hoke: You design paper dolls as well—and create animations from them. What is your process like for those? What excites you about them?

Susie Oh:
They're another storytelling medium, and since cutting them out and manipulating them are so much like child's play, I can take them as "art"  less seriously. In that way, the process is more liberating, more fun.


Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?

Susie Oh: New York City is huge, so there are different niches; it's a city that has always drawn artists.


Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?

Susie Oh: William Blake and Odilon Redon are lasting inspirations. Right now I'm also drawn to "outsider artists" like Carlo Zinelli and Charles A. A. Dellschau.


Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?

Susie Oh: I'd like to see more writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler, who have broader worldviews outside of traditional Eurocentric fantasy. I think the genre has definitely become more inclusive of minority voices.


© 2014 Susie Oh, "Secret Garden"

© 2014 Susie Oh, "Secret Garden"

Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?

Susie Oh: I'd love to do a series of illustrations about some visionary or mystical subject, like a biography of an alchemist or an early naturalist.


Tory Hoke: What's next for you?

Susie Oh: I wish I knew! I hope to illustrate more interesting stories!


Tory Hoke: Thank you for your time, Susie! It's been a pleasure.

Susie Oh: Thank you so much!

tory_hoke_50kbTory writes, draws, and codes in Los Angeles. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and PseudoPod, and her art has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, and Spellbound. She is art director for Strange Horizons and editor-in-chief of sub-Q, a magazine for interactive fiction. Follow her work at
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
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Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
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