Duration: Three years.
Location: Brooklyn, New York.
Education: BFA in communications design, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.
Career path: For as long as I can remember, I have loved to draw, but it wasn’t until I came across the work of illustrators like James Jean and Jimmy Liao that I realized illustration was a way I could make a living. I applied to a handful of art schools and ended up going to Pratt Institute. Art school isn’t for everyone, but for me, it enabled me to really explore and find out who I was as an illustrator as well as a person.
After graduating, I started out in editorial illustration, which I think is the easiest industry to break into as a young illustrator. Since then, I’ve branched out into working in the publishing and advertising industries as well. Each job that I work on is different from the last, and that makes every day in the studio interesting and challenging at the same time.
Cultural and artistic influences: I was raised in Seattle and Singapore, and spent most of my summers growing up visiting family in Taiwan and Hong Kong. My cultural background, growing up as a third-culture kid and an Asian American, definitely influences the way that I perceive the world around me, which filters into my work.
I find a lot of inspiration from films and video games, from color palettes and compositions to mood. I love that both forms of art can be so transportive and evocative, and as an illustrator, I’m similarly telling stories and narratives through a visual medium.
Favorite projects: Illustrating The Jedi Mind by Amy Ratcliffe and published by Chronicle Books. It’s the second official Star Wars project I’ve worked on, which, as a Star Wars fan, is both a dream as well as terrifying. This project was the first where I worked on a cover and interior illustrations for a book. All of the illustrations were portraits, and faces—especially likenesses—are one of the most challenging things for me to draw.
The Jedi Mind was one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on to date, the majority of which I created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when my anxiety was at an all-time high. Finishing this project—and ultimately being happy with the work I created—meant overcoming a lot of challenges. It’s definitely something I’m proud of on many levels.
Approach: I find a balance between creating illustrations that are visually beautiful and telling the viewer a story by layering colors, textures and symbolism. I’m drawn to art that pulls me into a different world than my own, and I hope that my work can do that for others.
Aspirations: I want to explore animation and sequential art to expand the limitations of my current work. I’d also love to do work in film or video game development. I want to diversify the types of jobs I work on, especially for projects on issues I’m passionate about.
Philosophy: I’m very lucky to have turned my passion into a career. One of the challenges is making sure that I’m able to enjoy the work that I do. For me, it’s been really important to create honest work that’s true to who I am. It’s allowed me to find my voice, and keeps me grounded and ready for the next challenge.