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Meet Cindy Duong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Duong.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
The story of Sakuradragon and the journey to pursue it as a full-time career is a story about learning to believe in myself. I grew up in an environment where everyone else was always telling me what to think and how to live my life. I grew up with conservative parents and I am number 5 of 6 children in my family. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to be perfect to keep my older siblings and parents happy. Someone always opinions as to how I could be doing better as a daughter, student, or human. If someone older than me was unhappy with me, it was automatically my fault because I am younger.

I was discouraged from being an artist from the very start with comments such as, “you will die alone and starving in the streets”. At the early age of four, words like that stick with you even if you don’t know why. Fast forward to my 20’s and I ended up finishing my degree and working as a web developer as a silent compromise with my family. I felt web involved a enough creativity while still being technical enough to make my parents happy.

Art was a way from me to escape to my own world, free from expectations to be perfect. I loved to creative worlds in my imagination where no one else’s opinions mattered because they were for me. Being creative made me happy and I was always doing it in one form or another. Unfortunately, I never believed I could make it as an artist. I was never formally trained, I didn’t identify as an artist because of my confidence, and I didn’t even know how to be an artist. Most importantly, I could never do art because art because the voices of authority in my life would never have it.

After working for a handful of years in a career unrelated to my passion, I had developed severe anxiety and depression from the office environment and desperately needed a change of pace. Where were all of the voices of authority that supposedly wanted the best for me during this time? They were telling me to just deal with it. This is when I realized no one really has your best interest in mind. It’s only about their own. In order to put my mental health first, I quit my job with nothing lined up and decided I give my art a fair and running chance as a career.

Upon reflection, it almost feels like my art gave me a second chance at life. Of course, I am still dealing with the consequences — disapproving parents and siblings, the feeling of being a bad daughter for not being obedient, etc. — but that’s ok, I am very happy now that I get to put my happiness first. It has been about two years and I am still learning how to run a business and how to be a better artist. At least the story of learning to do those things better is more interesting than one about being stuck in an office.

Please tell us about your art.
I love to create fun, brightly colored illustrations for everyone’s inner child. Much of my inspiration comes from Nintendo, Disney, Studio Ghibli, and pretty edible things. I am greatly interested in the power of colors and visual storytelling.

My hobbies include frequenting boba shops, cooking, sleeping, and playing video games. I get excited about the process of helping others realize their ideas and want my artwork to bring others happiness.

I find enjoyment in small, often overlooked, things in life and hope to share those experiences through my creations.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
You should never let money be the sole reason you’re not making art. Although this is cheesy, there’s that saying that goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I know it’s hard when you’re just starting. Supplies can be expensive, especially if you’re not sure the investment will return. However, you have to start small! If you’re working part-time, save a little bit of your paycheck every month. It doesn’t need to be much, even just $15. After ten months, that’s $150 to spend on supplies.

If you don’t have time to make art because you’re working, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your time management. Maybe take an hour or two from time you’d be playing games or watching TV. Maybe trade an hour of sleep to make time for art.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cindy Duong

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