Our artist interview this time round is done with Flora Chang of Happy Doodle Land. Like so many other fun friends I’ve made online, I first got to know Flora about three years ago via Illustration Friday, and till this day I still think that she has one of the most happiest styles I’ve ever seen!
Name: Flora Chang
Location: Overland Park, Kansas, USA
Illustration media: pen, graphite pencil, acrylic paints, paper, wood, computer
Tell us a little more about yourself!
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. My study lead me to the States twelve years ago. I graduated from Academy of Art College (now Academy of Art University) in San Francisco with an MFA degree in Graphic Design in 2001, and I have been a full-time designer working at Hallmark cards ever since my graduation. Currently I work in the Kids team.
Where do you live? What stands out about living where you are, and what is your daily schedule like?
I live in Overland Park, Kansas and work in Kansas City, Missouri. It is the smallest city I’ve ever lived. It’s affordable, people are friendly, and we have a pretty big creative community. I have a full time job in a giant corporate office, so my weekday schedule is pretty much the same everyday. My work load is busy, so by the time I get home, I love to cook, then just relax and spend time with my boyfriend. During the weekend I like to hit antique malls for treasures, or I stay home and work on some craft projects. I also try to find time and doodle when I am not at work, and those doodles sometimes end up on my blog.
How did you get your start in illustration?
I’ve always love to draw since I was little, but I’ve never actually learned it at school. A year after I started working at Hallmark, I was assigned to the Kids team and most of us on the team are “hybrid designers”, meaning we have to design and illustrate our cards. That’s how I got my start, working and learning from my job everyday.
Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
When I work on a piece for myself, I usually don’t plan on anything specific in advance. I found out the more I try to plan, the less good the result would be. Instead, I just keep on drawing lines and shapes that I like in my sketchbook, and eventually ideas would come to my mind. If not, I don’t force it. I will go watch TV or do other things and then come back to it later. But when I am at work, I usually don’t have the luxury of spending too much time on each card due to the deadlines. I just do a really quick rough sketch of the basic layout, and then I straight to the computer to execute it.
What’s your favorite project so far?
I recently designed twenty two mini stamps for my own Etsy shop they are so much fun to do! Another little project I really enjoy doing is my hand-painted brooches. I love the process because I get to paint, draw and craft on each one of them; it’s like a mini art piece that’s also wearable.
Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?
Yes, I can’t live without my sketchbook! I don’t necessary draw everyday, but I must have my book with me at all times.
Would you care to share your studio space as well?
What or who inspires you?
Colors, shapes and textures inspire me the most. I love “dirty” colors, peeling paints on old objects, and I love organic shapes that are imperfect.
What keeps you motivated?
Learning new skills. I constantly want to know how stuffs are made, and how I can apply a new technique to my illustrations and craft projects.
What’s your favourite tool?
Fine tip black Sharpies and my Wacom pen (I can’t use a computer mouse to draw).
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes I am a full-time in-house designer.
What advice would you like to give people who are interested in being an artist full-time?
Never stop learning and exploring. Be open-minded to suggestions and criticisms, but at the same time value yourself, because not everybody can do what you do.
Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
I see myself continuing my current job, while working on more fun projects during my free time. Also, starting a family would be nice.
What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
They are meant to make people smile.
Tell us something random about yourself!
I am shy in nature (I can already see my closest friends laughing as they read this). I behave in front of strangers, but I’m crazy in front of my friends.