Meet art director, illustrator and graphic designer from Virginia, Angie Son
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Korean-American Art director, Illustrator and Graphic Designer. After working at Hue & Cry the past 2 years, I’ve recently decided to go back to freelance! My work is characterized by clean shapes and silhouettes, bright, joyful colors imbued with a bit of texture. I love playing with visual metaphors and conjuring up new characters to bring to life with animation.
Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
I’m actually a California native, but moved to Richmond, VA 2 years ago to join Hue & Cry. Richmond is a beautiful city with a small town vibe that sits below Washington D.C. and is nestled above the James River. This place is among America’s oldest major cities and is rich in history. Virginia dates back to 1607 when England established the first permanent European settlement in Jamestown. The architectural style here dates back to the 1940s colonial era and is surrounded by plenty of oak, pine and chestnut trees lining the streets. There are lots of outdoor activities with parks overlooking lakes and rivers and the Shenandoah Mountains only a 1-2 hour drive from the city. Moving from a liberal state of California, Richmond had a lot of new experiences to offer. I visited the Maymont mansion, owned by the Dooley family, that has been preserved and restored to the 1970s; it was eye-opening to be able to see first hand what life was like back then and get a glimpse into the lives of slaves. When I first moved here, there were confederate statues that stood on cobblestoned streets, but with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the city has finally taken them down. In addition to its rich history, I love that we have seasons here and every season you have different events to look forward to. Richmond is artsy city that holds events in the beautiful VMFA museum on Fridays in the summer, and various festivals held throughout the year– from Folk festivals, Greek festivals, Watermelon festivals, Zine Festivals, and so on. If you’re a beer lover, you’ll probably love it here, as there are plenty of breweries and cider houses, and they’re especially great to drink floating down the James River or just enjoying the view with friends.
Richmond is a beautiful city with a small town vibe that sits below Washington D.C. and is nestled above the James River.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
The worst thing about living here is the lack of good asian food! There are Americanized Asian foods, but being a Korean American, I really miss the authentic Korean bbq I used to eat in Koreatown back in Los Angeles. The best thing about this city is that there is ZERO traffic. When I first moved here I was shocked at how empty the freeways were. Now driving more than 30 minutes seems too long of a drive.
Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Quaint, Affordable, Relaxed
How did you start your career in art?
I think I’ve always known I’d end up pursuing something in art & design. Since I was little, I’ve always been obsessed with stories. I spent a lot of time at the library, eagerly borrowing stacks of books to bring home. My head was buried in books and I always had my sketchbook and plastic box of art supplies with me to draw out all that I’ve imagined from the narratives I’ve read. I understood the power of stringing words together to create an entire world– my friends and I would write short stories together, much like an exquisite corpse, but instead of pictures, I’d write a chapter and they’d take on the next. My favorite classes in high school were those that told stories, like history, art history, and psychology. It feels only natural that my love for narratives and interest in what drives human beings translated into a career that focused on story-driven work for brands. After my 1st year at CalArts
, I got an internship at Prologue Films
because I thought I wanted to do title sequences. I loved the idea of subtly revealing an idea or concept with typography, images, and sound. Soon I discovered that I was drawn more towards illustrative character-driven work after interning at Brand New School
, which I think reverts back to what I loved most as a child– imagining and conjuring up my beloved characters, but applying psychology and strategic thinking to help brands tell their stories. The rest is history!
Since I was little, I’ve always been obsessed with stories.
Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Yes! My parents have always been supportive of me and I’m so grateful for that. I remember in high school there was a girl whose parents wouldn’t let her go to art school because they wanted her to become a doctor or a lawyer. Especially in the Asian community, there’s a misconception that a career in art & design means you won’t make any money, and that can’t be further from the truth! There are so many creative positions that pay well and fulfill you creatively from being a graphic designer, an illustrator/ designer, to 3D modeling or animation and so much more. I think if you’ve got a passion, and the drive to push through, don’t be afraid to pursue it and work hard. Money will follow!
What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
I’ve been working in the mograph industry for 8 years and I think I’d like to get into illustrating children’s books. I’ve also been primarily focused on 2D work and would like to get better at 3D. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll end up, but I know I want to keep learning and growing.
I’m not exactly sure where I’ll end up, but I know I want to keep learning and growing.
If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
. I love his style! I’d love to collaborate with him or just learn from him! He’s a master of shapes, color and light. Kevin Dart’s “Forms in Nature
” piece was absolutely stunning. The simplified geometric rendering style of that piece reminded me of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper
How would you describe the women around you?
I seem to be drawn to women and people who are creative, supportive, and have an uplifting & positive vibe. Women are emotional beings, and I say that in the best way. We are naturally empathetic and in tune with our feelings and those around us. There are times we all experience ups and downs, and for me, having a supportive group of girlfriends to share in how we feel or what we’ve experienced, to laugh hysterically or cry together is key to navigating hurdles or multiplying the joy we feel.
There are times we all experience ups and downs, and for me, having a supportive group of girlfriends to share in how we feel or what we’ve experienced, to laugh hysterically or cry together is key to navigating hurdles or multiplying the joy we feel.
Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
My first year of CalArts, I was introduced to Kim Dulaney
‘s work. She was a CalArts alumni who also worked in the motion graphics industry. I was so in awe of her work because it had so much intricate detail, interesting compositions and a tactile quality to her digital work that looked like it was done traditionally. On the flip side, I was also inspired by the work of Xoana Herrera
, because her work was super minimalist. She simplified forms, exaggerated features, and integrated charming hand-drawn typography with her designs. Although the two are complete opposites of the spectrum in terms of style, their works have greatly influenced me and I think it’s actually why my work looks the way it does. I love playing with textures, contrast, simplifying forms and using clear silhouettes to design styleframes and characters.
Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
I think the biggest challenge of being a female is that we work in a male-dominated industry and it’s hard to be treated seriously. Especially when you have a bubbly personality and a rather high-pitched voice, it’s difficult to insert your presence at times and be treated with respect. Especially coming from an Asian culture, where we’re expected to talk and treat elders with quiet reserve and respect, it can be hard to break out of that mold and mentality. With time and more experience, I’m hoping I’ll get better at being firm, creating boundaries and standing up for myself.
I think the only way to become better and be heard is to be brave, speak up, share and contribute your voice and your talents because fear and staying quiet won’t get you anywhere.
Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
Being able to talk about design is just as important as creating good work because it shows people that you’re able to think critically about the design choices you’re making. I think that great design always has smart thinking behind it. Why am I using this color, shape, texture, composition pose, etc. What am I trying to communicate? The ability to strategically concept and talk about the design choices you’re making help to strengthen and support the concept and sell others on your idea. What I’ve learned through the years is that everyone, even those we really look up to, have times when we have imposter syndrome or think that we’re not good enough. I think the only way to become better and be heard is to be brave, speak up, share and contribute your voice and your talents because fear and staying quiet won’t get you anywhere.
What type of music do you like to listen to?
I’m a huge fan of Tame Impala, Cannons, Satin Jackets, Big Wild, Roosevelt, Palmas, KAYTRANADA, SZA, Jhené Aiko, and Sabrina Claudio to name a few. I’m attracted to music that has groovy, psychedelic or sultry vibes.
What’s your favorite local food spot?
My favorite local food spot is a thai restaurant called Sabai. It has great ambiance and really yummy (but strong!) cocktails. There’s also a secret speakeasy behind the restaurant called The Jungle Room where you can enjoy delicious tiki drinks and pull out all your drunk dance moves.
What question would you like us to ask the next artist?
What’s your secret to staying motivated?
Videos and artworks courtesy of Hue&Cry and Angie Son.