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Sally Deng

Sally Deng

Meet visual artist from Los Angeles, Sally Deng.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents immigrated from China and, for a significant part of my childhood, ran a small restaurant in downtown LA. I spent many afternoons in the back/storage room doing homework and goofing around. Somehow that led to me wanting to become an artist. I applied for Art Center College of Design straight out of high school and I’ve never looked back since.

 

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

I am still working in LA. The older I get the more I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am to be from this city. I grew up on the East side, so I can’t say much about areas like Santa Monica or Malibu but there is just so much to appreciate. We have a thriving art scene that continues to grow every year and a variety of diverse communities to experience and explore. I also enjoy the outdoors so easy access to the mountains and ocean is very important to me. LA just so happens to have that as well.

 

The older I get the more I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am to be from this city.

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

Best: delicious ethnically diverse food, diverse communities, relatively easy access to nature while still being close to the city

bad: traffic, sweltering summers, air pollution

 

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

hustle, vibrant, satisfying

 

How did you start your career in art?

I basically started straight out of college. After graduating, I asked my professors if there were anyone I can send my portfolio to. They gave me a list of names and I immediately began reaching out to art directors from newspapers, magazines, online publications, etc. I also volunteered at an illustration conference in Austin and flew to New York to meet with art directors in person.

 

After graduating, I asked my professors if there were anyone I can send my portfolio to. They gave me a list of names and I immediately began reaching out to art directors from newspapers, magazines, online publications, etc.

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

Absolutely. My professors were especially encouraging and they gave me the push I needed to throw myself into the world of freelance illustration. I’m surprised that my parents supported me to be honest, haha. They are constantly worrying about me, of course, but they haven’t been disapproving yet.

 

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

I try not to have a set goal and keep myself open to new opportunities. On paper, I am an illustrator but I believe my work has potential for more than just the standard commercial work. I want the chance to create art for all kinds of projects and for people to get excited to collaborate with me. That being said, it would be really really cool to create something for Patagonia.

 

On paper, I am an illustrator but I believe my work has potential for more than just the standard commercial work.

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

Since being an illustrator is such a solo endeavor, I’d be happy to work with any of my extremely talented friends like Vivien Mildenberger, Pearlyn Lii, Celia Jacobs, Avalon Nuovo, AJ Dungo, Leonardo Santamaria, Ileana Soon. Or even my mentors like Brian Rea, Jason Holley, and Esther Pearl Watson.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I’m still in touch with many of my female classmates from school. Not only are they talented, kind, and supportive but they are also incredibly generous with their time and would always offer me their advice or perspective whenever I need it.

 

I’m still in touch with many of my female classmates from school. Not only are they talented, kind, and supportive but they are also incredibly generous with their time and would always offer me their advice or perspective whenever I need it.

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

I didn’t grow up really knowing any creatives. The closest was my art teachers and while they helped improve my art, they weren’t anyone I necessarily looked up to. I do remember, as a 4-year-old, watching my older female cousin draw pictures and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world.

 

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

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked with many art directors and clients that were super excited about my art. I haven’t personally come across any challenges that were specifically related to being female. The challenges were all from trying to make a living as a freelance illustrator

 

Never stop working. Even if you’re having a creative block, never stop.

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

Never stop working. Even if you’re having a creative block, never stop.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Sally Deng.

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