Felizia Chiao | I’m really bad at this. Ok, let’s see…this comes as a surprise to most people but I actually work full time as an industrial designer and just do illustration mostly for fun. I work for a consultancy based out of San Francisco and focus mainly on designing for the food industry, which basically means I travel and eat a lot for a living. It’s great. I can’t really complain, but it does make it challenging to keep my illustration work up on the side sometimes. I’ve always drawn for fun so I’m hesitant to freelance or do illustration as a job because then it might become a chore. It’s always been the best outlet for me and I would hate to lose it. As far as background goes, my parents moved to the US from Taiwan and they had my older sister and me in Texas. I was born in Austin and grew up in Sugar Land (basically Houston) in a strangely large Asian community, so I didn’t have an Asian kid identity crisis until probably college. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design as an industrial designer and dabbled in the toy industry for a hot second before switching to food work. All the while I’ve been trying to fill a sketchbook a year with full-page illustrations. I haven’t quite managed to do each one in a year because life is hectic, but for 2019 I’ve been doing a drawing a week pretty consistently. Each drawing takes about 10-20 hours on average so it’s a real commitment! Outside of creative work I really enjoy cooking and taking 4-hour naps as often as possible.
I’ve been drawing almost my entire life and selling random things here and there, but I got my first real job as a toy design intern at a consultancy in California. Eventually, when I graduated I moved to Ohio for a job at a toy company, hated Ohio, and went back to the design consultancy in California but this time I joined their Design for Food team. All the while I’ve been making illustrations in sketchbooks outside of my design career and that has been blowing up on its own. A lot of opportunities have come in for me through my Instagram or Tumblr and I’m starting to see my illustration work grow beyond just a super intense hobby. I was the resident artist for Dirtybird records in 2018 which was incredibly fun, and I also have a collaboration with Denik where they use some of my art on the covers of sketchbooks and notebooks. You can find one of my covers in Black Art Materials now, and a bit of the profits go toward building schools. It’s really cool! They both found me through my social media presence so I think I owe my start to these online platforms illustration wise. (Via Girls Club)