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Angel Chang

Angel Chang

Meet Taiwanese illustrator, Angel Chang.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an illustrator from Hsinchu, Taiwan; currently living and illustrating in Tamsui, Taipei. I’m a curious person, I love to observe things and experiment. My first picture book, Most of the Better Natural Things in the World, just came out this month, it’s about nature around the world, written by Dave Eggers, published by Chronicle Books.

 

If I’m not focused on my creative work, you might find me exploring the city, playing guitar or cuddling with my cat!

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

The city I’m currently living in is called Tamsui, is a small district in Taipei, Taiwan. It’s away from downtown but it is still a pretty popular area for tourists. Lots of historical architects and famous buildings are nearby. 

This is the first place I picked for myself to live in my country after I moved back from Brooklyn last year. I guess I have the tendency to pick places that are not so close to big cities or downtown. 

My studio/apartment is on the main street in Tamsui. I can hear the cars passing through and sounds from downstairs food stands and shops. It’s also close to the river where boats come and go, and always has people fishing and taking strolls on the shore. I think it is a pretty place and I like living here so far.

 

I’m a curious person, I love to observe things and experiment. 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

I’ll say the distance away from downtown is both the best and the worst. 

I love to see what people are up to, so if anywhere has creative events or activities, I’d want to check out. However, most of them happen in downtown Taipei. If I really wanna go, I have to make up my mind earlier so I can plan the travel. And that’s why it sucks because it’s hard to be spontaneous when the travel time is relatively long. 

And why the same reason is the best is because I don’t get distractions. It’ll just be me with my ideas and work, and I enjoy it a lot.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Chill / Possible / Unsophisticated

 

How did you start your career in art?

It’s a long story to trace back exactly how it all started, but one thing for sure is that I keep trying. 

I was an anxious kid with many ideas but have a hard time to truly express myself properly. I found out that being a painter can be a career choice when I was five or six years old and I remember thinking to myself that is a really cool way to say things. So I started to volunteer myself in any kind of design opportunities, just so I can make things and test my craft. 

Fast forward to three years ago, before I’m full-time freelance, my work started to get recognition in illustration awards. At the same time, I successfully found my first agency to represent my work. And then I moved to New York to look for more opportunities. Since then, I’m always juggling between commissioned work and personal projects.

 

It’s a long story to trace back exactly how it all started, but one thing for sure is that I keep trying. 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

In the beginning, unfortunately, my family kept trying to change my mind. It really frustrated me but they’re slowly trying to accept now after they see my work as results. 

 

Luckily, I have met some really great artists along the way, my close friends and my younger sister are always supportive as well. I’m forever grateful for them.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I’m currently developing an educational animation series that is aiming for helping people on learning local culture and language in Taiwan. Our history is so complicated I think with globalization getting so widespread, traditions and stories need to be recognized so those roots can survive and updated with modern society. 

I have been learning and parenting myself on emotional education and self-care for years, too. When I was a kid, I grew up with very little knowledge of both, the constant energy drain and oppressed pressure had led me to the edge of abandoning myself a couple of times. During depressing times, besides my friends, literature and art have been saving me. With digital technology and the internet being so popular, I’m still observing what is the best way to let children find the help they need when they need it. And I intended to use illustration to tell stories on both matters. 

So, mainly these two directions.

 

During depressing times, besides my friends, literature and art have been saving me.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Es Devlin. She is a stage designer and a brilliant artist. I’ve been inspired by her work for years. If I could ever collaborate with her, it will probably be like a dream come true.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

The women around me are very down to earth and kind. Each of them taught me different lessons as we are all going through life. I think they are incredible.

 

The women around me are very down to earth and kind

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Unfortunately, no. When I was growing up, most of the female creatives I looked up to were working out of town or overseas. I guess that has something to do with our local media system, too. They didn’t do many reports on local stories back then.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Personally, I didn’t experience challenges in my industry that is specifically formed because of my gender. But I’m fully aware that it might be because I was distracted by my own mental illness. That I can be sure is a challenge that has many reasons to do with my feminine identity.

 

Art takes time. 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

I think there are a couple things that constantly reflecting back to me and have been helpful even before I started my freelance illustrator career.

 

Art takes time. 

Being a freelance illustrator might sound dreamy but, just remember, it is hard work, too. Through projects and practices, I become more and more aware of my workflow and my limits of mental energy. Those things you can only learn and improve by trying it out. 

 

Another big lesson is: Nobody can know for me. 

I learned this the hard way because I wasn’t feeling confident for my work and I was too focused on flaws rather than the good parts. There’s nothing wrong to learn from other professional’s work but, in the end, what makes me improve was that I started to only compare my latest work with my past work. I’m still going through a lot of introspection and failing in my own creative process, but then I learned and I do better next time around. 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Angel Chang.

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