Interview of Maggie Chiang by Sophie Pellegrini
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Maggie and I am an illustrator born and raised in Los Angeles to a Taiwanese family.
Has living in LA influenced your artwork? I hear a lot of people say that it’s one of those cities you either love or hate.
Living in Los Angeles has definitely influenced my art, because the city is full of amazing artists. All the inspiring galleries and artwork that are all in Los Angeles has encouraged me to pursue my love for art. I love living in Los Angeles, the weather and the people here are all wonderful. There are definitely times where I just want to get away, and take a break from Los Angeles. Occasionally I will take a road trip up to Northern California, and crash at a friends place for a few days. But in the end, I always miss Los Angeles.
How did you get started in the arts?
Ever since I was a child, I had always been fascinated with creating things from whatever objects I could find. I remember I would scribble with crayon and layer colors on top of other colors on paper and then cut them out into different shapes. I drew and made artwork constantly, and from then on I knew that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.
Tell us a bit about your work process. What medium/s do you work in?
I love working with watercolors, and experimenting with collage. I would begin my artwork with a simple idea, and slowly build on top of the image until I get to a point where I am happy with it. Sometimes I’ll revisit old work and revamp it, or just recycle ideas from it and create something completely new.
I love the paintings entitled “Underwater,” which you state are inspired by the song “Basic Space” by The xx. Does music often have an influence on your art? What are some of your favorite musicians/bands?
Music has had a huge impact on my life and my art. I started my first piano lessons when I was 7, and I also played the flute, violin, and marimba. I don’t know if I can say I have a favorite musician or band, but instead, I gravitate towards a collective variety of music.
How would you describe your illustrations/style to someone who couldn’t see them?
I would describe my illustration as being quiet and subtle, yet still full of life through the use of colors and shapes. My work tends to depict imaginary landscapes and places unseen, often focusing on the relationship between humanity and nature. Because I work with watercolors, it creates beautiful textures that I cannot truly control.
Can you tell us a bit about the story behind your series/project “Cycling”?
The project “Cycling” was a contribution piece for a friend of mine’s, (Kati Perez) feminist bicycle zine. The zine is focused on empowering women and bicycling. My friend had originally asked me to contribute to her zine because I had done illustrations that involved feminism in the past.
Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?
I personally do not have a specific favorite project that I have ever worked on. Every project has had its own positives. What I mean by that is through the process of creating a piece, there are the moments that I love. But it all depends on the project, whether it’s the beginning, middle, or completion of it. But if I did have to choose one of the most fun project I’ve worked on, it’ll probably be my Firewords Quarterly piece. I was given a wonderfully whimsical story that fit well with what I like illustrating, and I had a lot of fun creating the piece.
If you could have a conversation with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
This is a tough question, I would love to be able to talk to my grandfather who passed away a few years ago. The conversation wouldn’t need to be thoughtful or profound, just a simple conversation. Maybe just be able to catch up with him, and see how he’s doing.
And if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
If I could, I would love to be able to travel the world, maybe not all at once but definitely over the span of my life. Along with music, traveling to new places has a huge influence on my life and work. Specifically right now, my next goal is to be able to go to Europe. I have never been, and the country seems so beautiful and has a wonderful arts culture.