Me looking at 'Marilyn Diptych' by Andy Warhol, 1962 in tate modern

My art journey

How many times do I have to give up art to be an artist?

The beginning

Like most kids, I enjoy drawing. Being an only child, it was one of my main entertainment. Because I was always drawing cartoons (mostly about my dog), my mum signed me up to a kiddie art class. Which I soon dropped out as she was the one doing most of the homework. Together with MANY of my other hobbies, it was quickly forgotten, and that was the first time I gave up art.

As I grew older, I got into manga and started drawing characters with my neighbor, and of course she was better at it. I thought I was not good enough. That dream of being a manga artist soon went to the bin. I didn't even buy any tools, but I always eyeing them up when I visit the shop. I continue reading manga obsessively into my early teen years.

Early drawing of my childhood dog

Living in denial

I was quite nerdy (that didn't go away) when I was a kid. My best friend was a popular arty girl who was always in charge of designing classroom displays. I didn't go to drawing classes, and I couldn't make realistic drawings. I was happy being the assistant, helping her do the work and admire her artistic talent from a far. Again, for many years, I believe I was not good at art. Occasionally I had some good works, but I would never be called out to be the talented one. Other than writing and calligraphy, I was never selected to compete in art. I thought to myself, better focus my effort on academics.

Challenges in finding a path

In high school, I was reluctant to draw in front of people. Sometimes, I would draw privately in my notebook while writing stories about my dog. I was not the art or design school type. I never question that. Again, I thought I would follow the traditional route. It just never came across my mind any other way. 

English was my strongest subject. To be honest, I thought I was going to study language in uni. In the end, I went for philosophy because it was unpopular and I can get into a better school. I ask a lot of questions, so why not? Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it at the time and found uni life very tough. Although I was excited to leave home, I found socialising and being independent challenging.

Illustration inspired by Yoshitomo Nara, 2007

First art exhibitions

On the bright side, because my school was in Taipei, I got to visit my first major art exhibitions of Andy Warhol and Yoshitomo Nara. I also made lots of good friends. During this time, I started making tiny drawings in my journals. I was asked by my friend to do illustrations for the school yearbook, but if I was honest, I wasn't proud of my work. I procrastinated for too long and didn't plan enough (story of my life). Most of my illustrations feel like copies rather than original work. Of course, I gave myself another reason to give up again.

Travel was my first love

I went into the corporate world straight after graduation. In a job where zero creativity was involved, and I hated it so much. I would go into the office late, have a 10-12 hour zombie day, then on weekend I just want to breathe and be myself. That last for a year, everyday I dream of leaving the country and finally I booked a one-way ticket to Australia. It was probably the best time of my life. I didn't draw or anything till I moved to Europe, a couple of years later, when I was working as a cabin crew in London. Since I had a lot of downtime, I started drawing and painting to make work for portfolio to applying for design school. 

Taiwanese food in watercolour, 2015

Dabbling in creative industry

I am not sure what was the turning point, but I suppose I wanted a career allowing me to work and travel without having to serve tea or coffee. Since I wanted to work as a graphic designer at one point. Maybe web design would be close enough. Luckily, I really enjoyed it. Being able to be creative at work is probably the closest to a dream job it can ever be for me. 
Sewing at my kitchen table, 2021-2022

Setting up a home studio

However, I got into more of the development side of the job and when I tried to move to design. It didn't go well as I expected. Being a designer in the corporate world requires a lot of negotiating and evangelising. It wasn't as creative as I thought it would be. Maybe I was just sick of the digital world during the pandemic. More and more often, I had a very strong desire to create with my hands. During this time, I started my home studio in the garage. Gradually it went from sewing to drawing, and eventually I started painting.
My first oil painting from online art course, 2022

Gave up the corporate world again

Frustration of pandemic together with the burnout that drove me to the wall. I listened to my instinct and quit my job. Probably not a smart move, but it was really the push I need to rediscover what I want to do in life. Before that, I was very unhappy at work, but I didn't know I wanted to be an artist. Maybe I always have an inner voice, I just never listen. Maybe you can have many dreams in life, and that can change too. One thing I know is I have always been looking for a career that's fulfilling, but I have yet to find one.  
Painting with acrylic gouache at my home studio, 2022

Striking a balance

My art journey is definitely not in a correct order. I wish I could of make sure I can make art for a living before leaving a full-time job. Anyone with the right set of mind would. But I didn't feel I have much choice. It feels like my last chance. I have to confess, making money is much harder than I thought. The progress is a lot slower than I have imagined. But thanks to this time, I gave myself enough opportunity to establish my self-belief as an artist.

The journey continues. 

My first open studio at Eastcheap Studios, 2023


Thank you for reading! 
Leave a comment if you would like to find out inspiring art books, resources, and recommend courses that have helped my art journey to date. If you have any advice, I would love to hear from you too.
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