Felicia Chiao classifies herself on her Tumblr as 'Industrial designer by day and illustrator by night.' While the design focus is beyond impressive (she just got a gig within the food industry), the imaginative worlds that she creates inside of her visually stunning notebooks are worthy of their own world of praise.
Chiao graduated from Rhode Island School of Design earlier this year and has continued to craft her own galaxies, full of childhood influences and monochromatic beings. Fish jump through the clouds, brains are replaced with zen gardens, and coffee is always somewhere nearby.
I spoke with the talented visionary about her illustrative work and what we can expect from her around the corner.
Hey, how's it going? Where are you located right now? Describe your environment.
Hey, I'm doing better than ever! I just moved to San Francisco for a new job and the city is absolutely gorgeous. I kind of live in a laundry closet but it's fine I think?
For those unfamiliar, describe yourself in as little or as many words as you like.
So hello! My name is Felicia Chiao and I'm originally from Sugar Land, TX. I'm actually an industrial designer professionally but I do illustration as a hobby. I recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and I have a background in toy design, but now I'm actually designing for the food industry. In my free time I've been trying to finish a sketchbook a year and I'm currently on sketchbook #5.
What were your art habits like as a child?
Well for one, I absolutely refused to draw eyebrows on anything until maybe middle school. Is that an art habit? I also liked to paint on occasion and deface books with crayons, but I didn't really focus on art until high school.
You seem to have developed your own world with your art. Do all of your creations exist in the same realm?
You know, I haven't really given it much thought. Recently I've been drawing the same things and characters over and over so I suppose you could say they are. I've been told that it looks like there's a narrative and back story to my illustrations, but I honestly don't think about each one that hard.
Your pieces are so intricate. Do you spend multiple days/weeks on them?
Well it really depends on a number of things. Since I only draw in my free time, whatever is going on in my life dictates how much work I can put out. My 4th sketchbook was much smaller than my current one and I could do up to 3 drawings a day on a good day when I was still in school. Now that I have a job and a much larger sketchbook, I aim for about one drawing a week but it's not like I'm spending every day on it. I think most of my illustration work is done in the middle of the night.
Do you use any digital manipulation or is it all by hand?
Everything is done entirely by hand using ink and Copic markers. I correct the scan colors a little in photoshop before I post online but that's about it.
What's your ideal creative space?
I think a nice room with a lot of natural light is ideal. And pillows. Pillows everywhere. Maybe some fuzzy blankets and a coffee maker too. And a really fat cat.
What are some studio essentials?
Honestly I do most of my drawings in my bedroom either on the bed or the floor. All I really need are my pens and markers, but pillows and some music are a definite plus.
What's the plan for the rest of the year/going into 2017?
I'm currently on a project sprint at work where I have to eat a ton of chicken for research (my job is pretty wild)...so I'm trying to survive that while still doing a drawing a week. I was hoping to finish my current sketchbook before the new year but I'll be lucky if I can get half way through.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
I don't know how valid my advice is since I'm not professionally an illustrator or anything, but I'd say just keep making work! Not everything you make has to be good, the important thing is just to enjoy what you're doing. I started drawing as a way to de-stress and my first 2 sketchbooks are absolutely terrible, but without those 2 I wouldn't be where I am now. Keep going!
Any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?
Thank you for taking the time to check out my work! Also my mom made an instagram @aj12044, y'all should give her a follow if you like flowers.