ADC’s Illustration Month (now going into its second month) is a showcase of talent that highlights the many ADC Members who consider themselves to be illustrators, whether they’re professionals, students, or really keen amateurs who draw on the side of their day jobs. They all have at least two things in common: an ADC Membership and a heartfelt passion for drawing.
Our next featured ADC Member is a Taiwanese-born, New York-based illustrator who draws with her stomach as much as her hands.
Just about every kid can draw, but not every kid is particularly gifted at it. Where did your childhood artistic inclinations come from?
My childhood was pretty much the typical Asian kid’s childhood, where studying for exams and doing homework took up practically all of my day-to-day life. The way I discovered my interest in art and design is actually by doodling in textbooks and notebooks, so I wouldn’t fall asleep in class.
When did you discover that “Hey, this could actually be a career”?
I decided I wanted to pursue a design degree the summer I was going into senior year of high school. My mom has been super supportive of me becoming a designer (although she still hasn’t figured out what I’m doing), while my dad has been the conservative Asian parent who believes making art means starving on the street.
“…my dad has been the conservative Asian parent who believes making art means starving on the street.”
How would you describe your illustrative style? Do you fight against having a particular style, or do you embrace your style as your “brand”?
Casual. I’m a big fan of handmade stuff, so my style consists of drawing spontaneously, puns, and most importantly, food.
Walk us through your usual creative process.
I always start by sketching down thoughts and ideas in my notebook after a good night sleep or a good walk in the city. Then I’ll scan in the ideas and sometimes add colors in Photoshop or make vectors in Illustrator.
Tools of the trade: do you have any specific pens, pencils or other instruments that you swear by?
I use whatever pen that’s lying next to me. I can’t live without my hand, which is the best tool I could ask for. A Sharpie is also nice.
What is the most challenging thing about a career in illustration?
The struggle between artistic integrity and the rent that’s due every month is really hard. It’s great that I get to do what I love for a living, but compromises have to be made so I can keep buying delicious cheesecake. Sometimes I have to do work I don’t necessarily enjoy, but at the end of the day it’s worth it.
“It’s great that I get to do what I love for a living, but compromises have to be made so I can keep buying delicious cheesecake.”
Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?
My sketchbook/weekly planner, if that counts as a project. I enjoyed every moment of doodling, plus when I look back, I see what I went through that particular day, what thoughts I had and what food I ate.
Cocktail party talk: how do you describe what you do to someone who isn’t in a creative field, and what’s the typical response you get from them?
I’ve used several terms other than designer or illustrator to describe myself, and my favorite and probably the most accurate one is magician. When someone who’s not in the creative field sees what I’m doing and my work, I get “woah”,”how did you make that?”, or “this is insane”, and that’s basically my magician moment.
Where do you seek out creative inspiration?
Out in the world in other people. I love sitting in the park and spending the whole day people-watching. It’s amazing how different people interact with each other, including what they think, say, and do. Getting those fresh perspectives is usually how I get my creative juices flowing.
Which professional creatives do you look up to and why?
Keith Haring has always been a great inspiration to me. I love that his work is casual, playful with a strong message.
At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?
The joy I feel everyday when I wake up in the morning, knowing “ah I’m going to create something really weird today and have so much fun doing it.”
Illustration Month continues throughout January and February, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!