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Meet Alvina Kwong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alvina Kwong.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alvina. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I was born in Hawaii and spent my early childhood there until my family moved to the South Bay. I have loved drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil. I would carry my sketchbook everywhere I went so that I could draw everything in my imagination and everything around me. The minute I held that pencil in my little hand, I knew it was the ticket to my imagination! I dreamed of being an artist, wanting to share my ideas with everyone, especially children.

My mom enrolled me in all kinds of art classes when I was young. I remember going to the Torrance Civic Center to take a clay class and painting class. In middle school, I drew pictures of my friends’ favorite Sanrio and Disney characters as Christmas gifts. In 7th grade, I drew horse drawings and made it into a calendar for my teacher. In high school, I took Studio Art AP, and it helped me get into Visual Arts at Brigham Young University.

Before I chose to do art in college, I tried taking a few business classes to see if I could perhaps major in business instead of art. I knew my parents would rather me major in something more useful than art. I didn’t do well in those classes and realized that business was definitely not something I liked and I wasn’t good at. So I pursued Visual Arts until I got into the Illustration program. It was a very hard program to get in.

It took me about three tries to get into the program. They only wanted the best of the best, and even if you are in the program, but you slack off, you can get kicked out of the program. From that point on, I focused on drawing and painting and learning as much as I could about illustration. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration. In my senior year, I entered my artwork to the Student Show and received two awards.

Since I’ve graduated, I have illustrated for New Moon Magazine, Ladybug Magazine, The Friend Magazine, and many others. Some of my favorite books that I illustrated are “The Giraffe that Ate the Moon” by Babl Books, “The Adventures of Abby and Taz” by Brown Books Kids, “Back to School with Mac” by Little Pumpkin Press, and “Rock a Bye Baby Hawaii” by BeachHouse Publishing. My artwork is also displayed and sold at Artisan’s Etc Gallery in Big Bear, California.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a challenging road to get to where I am now.

When I was in college, I struggled to find my style. I went through a lot of ‘below average’ grades until I found my style! One of my college professors told me that when I entered the program, I was at the bottom of my class. But when I graduated, I had worked my way to being one of the top students. I worked hard in college. I went to my professors for extra help all the time, and I would stay up all night in the campus studio working on my projects.

Working hard and never giving up helped me get to where I am now. Sometimes it’s easy to give up because in this industry there are a lot of rejections. I’ve gotten more rejections then work. But the rejections are worth the reward- I get to illustrate! I learned not to take it personally, and to keep going. Rejections help make you stronger and makes you do better.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am an illustrator and artist. I specialize in illustrating children’s books and magazines, and draw and paint commissioned art. Some of the books I’ve illustrated are “Sand Mouse’s Soup” by BeachHouse Publishing, “Broccoli Chronicles” by Building Voices, and “Lucas the Lion Loves the Tiny Talker” by Brown Books Kids.

Some of my work have been published in magazines including “The Friend Magazine” and “Ladybug Magazine.” One of my favorite commissioned paintings is a fun map of the Los Angeles area called “California Grown.” It has a few notorious freeways, some fun iconic places, and even a sign pointing to Las Vegas!

My artwork is also displayed and sold at the Artisan’s Etc Gallery in Big Bear, California. There you will find books, originals, prints, and postcards of my artwork. I also visit the gallery often to sign books and talk to people about my art. I also illustrate art for invitations and licensed art and am open to other illustration/art opportunities.

My style is unique and different from a lot of other illustrators. It’s whimsical, fresh, and has vibrant colors. I usually illustrate and paint traditionally, using paintbrushes, acrylic (high viscosity and low viscosity), and illustration boards. There are two different style techniques that I use. I use high viscosity acrylic paint to create bold and textured illustrations, and then I use low viscosity acrylic paint to create soft and watercolor-like illustrations.

I also do digital illustrations too. I love my job! I love creating illustrations that make people smile and make them happy. I like to imagine images that take you out of this world and into a whimsical new place. When parents tell me how much their kids love reading my books and looking at the illustrations, it just warms my heart!

I feel the most proud of my artwork when it brings happiness to children and adults. It is gratifying when my art is loved, especially by children. They are one of the reasons why I do what I do.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment was when I won the Juror’s Choice Award and Will Ward Award for my illustrations in my senior year at Brigham Young University.

Winning these awards reconfirmed my dream of becoming an illustrator, and helped me know that I was ready for the real world of illustration. It also made me feel confident in my illustration style.

It was also one of my happiest moments because my parents were there, and they saw my accomplishments and were proud of me.

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