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Maggie Chiang

Maggie Chiang

Meet Taiwanese-American illustrator, Maggie Chiang.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Maggie, I am an illustrator. I mostly do editorial illustration, gallery work, and dabble in motion graphics. I am originally from Los Angeles, but I recently moved up to northern California with my boyfriend. I am Taiwanese/American, both my parents came from Taiwan to the states and then had me and my younger brother. Funny enough, both my brother and I are creative, I like to draw and he enjoys creating music. But both our parents along with the rest of our family (at least the ones I know of), none of them are artistic.

 

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

I am actually pretty new to the city that I’m currently living in, I’ve only been here for a few weeks now. Comparing to Los Angeles, Sunnyvale is much more suburban, with wide roads and has a lot more nature. Along with more nature, comes with more allergies! But besides that, Sunnyvale’s air feels fresher, the weather is cooler than LA, and I love being able to wear sweaters more often.

 

Being up here in Sunnyvale, I love seeing all the big trees and foliage everywhere.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
I think the best thing, again comparing it to Los Angeles, is the nature. I’ve always complained about how little nature there is in LA. Being up here in Sunnyvale, I love seeing all the big trees and foliage everywhere. Even the highways are lovely to drive on. I don’t really enjoy driving to San Francisco because of the distance, but the nature and landscape on the freeway are so gorgeous and beautiful to look at. Definitely something you can’t really experience in LA.
Another big plus in Sunnyvale is that parking is not an issue. In LA, wherever you go, you have to plan ahead of time where you are going to park. Parking’s really difficult in LA! But here in Sunnyvale, that doesn’t really seem like a big problem.
I would say the worst thing about my city is that everything is far away. In LA, everything was really convenient. For example, if you wanted to see a special movie that is only shown at select theaters, you could probably find 2-3 theaters within reasonable driving distance to watch it. But here the closest theaters to possibly show one of those movies would be an hour drive away.
There’s obviously so much more, like food and public transportation, I could go on forever comparing the two contrasting cities.
Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
I’m not too sure about what it’s like in Sunnyvale yet, but in LA I think the 3 words to describe what it’s like to be a creative would be: Network, Exciting, Hustle/Hard work

 

How did you start your career in art?
When I was a kid, I always loved to draw and scribble everywhere. I remember my mom had this fax machine paper. It was one of those continuous perforated stacks of endless amounts of paper, you could draw for days. From then on I always drew and doodled everywhere, and decided in high school that I wanted to go to art college. I ended up going to ArtCenter College of Design, and from there I slowly figured out what I wanted to do with a career in illustration.

 

I remember my mom had this fax machine paper. It was one of those continuous perforated stacks of endless amounts of paper, you could draw for days.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Like I just mentioned, throughout my childhood and all the way up to high school I loved to draw and doodle. My mom was always very supportive of my love for making art, she would find after-school art classes for me and help me get art supplies. There was one time we went on a family trip, I think it was one of those Asian tour buses, went to go sightseeing in Arizona. After one of the stops to a gift shop in the middle of the desert, when we came back to the bus and my mom brought back a little surprise for me. It was a little illustrated book of dessert plants, animals and landscapes of Arizona. That memory always stuck in my mind, because my mom never did surprises.
Along with that, my parents were very supportive of me deciding to go to an art college. They helped me pay for tuition, and I was fortunate enough to live pretty close to school so that I didn’t have to worry about housing. For the days that I was very stressed, I remember my mom would prepare soup for me (I love soup and noodles!). So that if I ever did come home late from school, I could just heat it up easily on the stove to eat. I’m very grateful to have them in my life.
What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
This question has been on my mind since I graduated from college. I remember before graduating one of my teachers asked me, What do you want to do, what are your future goals/ambitions with your work? I keep thinking there is this grand, big, final thing that I want to do with my work. I remember standing there in front of class silent for a little while, and looking up to answer “I don’t know”. Instead, I’ve just been creating little goals, like steps, towards a vague direction that I want to go towards. But a more recently a goal that I would really love to delve deeper into is fine art, and being able to show my work at art galleries. I mostly do commercial work and I love doing it, but I also enjoy creating artwork for gallery shows. I would love to continue doing that throughout my life as long as I am able to draw and paint.

 

I keep thinking there is this grand, big, final thing that I want to do with my work. I remember standing there in front of class silent for a little while, and looking up to answer “I don’t know”. Instead, I’ve just been creating little goals, like steps, towards a vague direction that I want to go towards.

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

Oh wow, I’m not sure! All I know is, I would love to collaborate possibly with a musician, or even a fashion brand. Music has always been a big part of my life, I grew up learning classical piano and violin. But being able to apply my art towards something musical would be amazing. I’ve also been really into fashion lately, maybe being able to create a pattern or something within that realm would be super cool.

 

How would you describe the women around you?
I would describe all the women in my life as strong. Some are ambitious, some are brave, but overall every one of them is hardworking.

 

I would describe all the women in my life as strong. Some are ambitious, some are brave, but overall every one of them is hardworking.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
Actually, now that I think of it there was one person. Her name is Ping Zhu, she is also an illustrator and I went to high school with her younger brother. I remember her brother would always be so proud of her, and proud to be her brother. When it was time to start looking for college, I remember seeing her featured in an ArtCenter’s brochure. I’m not too sure how much that affected me at the time, but knowing that someone from my high school who also went to ArtCenter for the illustration program had been really inspiring and encouraging.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
In my experience, people respect you because of your work and not because of your gender in the industry I work in. I don’t think I’ve personally experienced the challenge you would face as a female in a male-dominated industry. But what I have experienced are interesting and new opportunities. I noticed a lot of the art directors I work with are female, and sometimes clients are looking to specifically work with female artists. Though it can be challenging to be a female, I think it’s an exciting time to be a female in illustration.

 

Focus on creating artwork true to you and don’t let outside voices/options affect who you are and who you want to be.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
Focus on creating artwork true to you and don’t let outside voices/options affect who you are and who you want to be. Create what you want, and be you! Find your voice in your work, work hard and have goals. I understand that there are times when it’s really tough, I go through it all the time but keep pushing on.

 

 

Photos courtesy of  Maggie Chiang.

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