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Conversations with the Inspiring Brenda Chi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brenda Chi.

Brenda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, and in high school, I thought I could really try to be an “artist.” I took all these classes and created a portfolio for college. Then, I applied for the Art Center College of Design and got in! There, it gave me the tools to learn how to learn and now, you can say, I am a professional artist. I’ve been working for years, and my voice as an Asian American woman grew with me at this time.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think a lot of women second-guess themselves in decision making. It’s something most of us have been raised to do, to be quiet and obedient, and men have a great history of questioning us when we’re making decisions about our bodies, our minds. Culturally, you start with a skewed point of view. So, as female artists, it can be hard to follow your voice, without fear of being judged, fear that you’re doing something wrong. I continue to struggle with being my true self, and speaking for myself in my art. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but also most rewarding when an audience resonates with your voice.

For young women, know that your story needs to be heard so that next person out there, who may feel lost, can find a connection. That we need your story because it’s different. There’s plenty of men’s stories in the world and it’s time that we share ours.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
The work that makes me most proud and I am known for is my illustrations and comics about being an Asian American woman. I try to make my work humorous and sassy because that’s who I am and I think it’s my way of moving away from the “model minority” stereotype. I’m loud, because I’m American, but it feels like no matter what I do, I’ll still look like a foreigner in my own country. So, I do the work I do, to keep breaking the stereotype, inform, and unite my community.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
We’re still faced with old traditions of rich white men making decisions that make sense in their world. Females still have to play a gender-role game, and even if they do it well, they’re still faced with scrutiny on their ability to lead. Women sometimes judge women too because this “old tradition” is still here. It’s getting better, and people are learning to be more aware of it, but it’s still there, in any industry. However, the more we talk about it, the more we can help each other.

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Image Credit:
Brenda Chi

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