Duration: Eight months.
Location: Alhambra, CA.
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, with distinction, in illustration with a minor in social innovation from the ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, CA.
Career path: I was fortunate to have worked for Brian Rea as his studio assistant. Working with him made me grow so much as a creative and a person. But, there was a specific moment where my illustration career really started to gain momentum. At the time, my work was dark, muddy and privileged style over idea, so I wasn’t hearing back from very many art directors. So one day, I asked Brian if we could take a look at my portfolio. Always generous with his time and advice, he gave me the simple yet impactful suggestion of skipping out on black for my next piece. Lo and behold, a week later, art director Nathan Huang came in with a Thanksgiving assignment for the New York Times Sunday Review, which was the perfect storm to put Brian’s advice to heart. Six months later, I had to end my time at his studio in order to focus on my illustrations full-time.
Artistic influences: I’ve been heavily influenced by the anime I grew up with; namely, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Princess Mononoke. When it comes to visual art, I’m inspired by artists and photographers like Nobuyoshi Araki, Gregory Crewdson, Ren Hang and Dana Schutz. I’m also a big fan of the way writer Haruki Murakami creates magical realism and am excited by how painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby and rapper Ruby Ibarra tackle immigration topics.
Favorite project: I was recently asked to create the cover illustration for the Fortune Society’s Know Your Rights toolkit, a nonprofit resource for those who are currently incarcerated or detained who fear immigration consequences with ICE as a result of their involvement in the justice system. I’m glad to do my part to help counter the social and racial hostility of the past few years and empower others through my craft. I’m also very passionate about social issues and had minored in social innovation through ArtCenter’s Designmatters program, so I was excited to be given the chance to be involved with this project.
Work environment: I live in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County. I live in a heavily Asian American neighborhood. This is a deep contrast to where I grew up—in Orange County, my family was the other. Such a different environment has changed my lens for the better.
Approach: I hope that people respond to my voice and thinking in my work. I am obsessed with translating into painting the emotional moment when you have that empty knot in your upper stomach while you’re staring forward at the space in-between you and what’s in front of you.
Aspirations: I would love to be commissioned for assignments that play more of a role as “cultural objects,” like adult fiction book covers, film posters and album covers that get featured on Pitchfork’s Best New Albums list. My dream job is to create alternative film posters of Neon Genesis Evangelion for poster company Mondo. Most importantly, I also hope to be involved with social impact work for Asian Americans. I think a fulfilling life would be working on commercial illustrations during the day and on my own paintings and solo exhibitions at night. To be at a place where illustration work becomes the day job excites me so much, and I think I’m slowly making my way there.
Philosophy: You have a voice. Do the right thing.