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Meet Grace Le of Hey It’s Grace in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Le.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My story begins much like any other artist’s. I grew up playing outside and creating make believe stories with my cousins and childhood friends. And while school & academics were the top priority in my very Asian household, I was also lucky enough to be able to nurture my creative side with dance classes. I spent my extra time doodling and drawing on any spare piece of paper I could find.

I immigrated with my family to the United States when I was seven years old and the transition was, in hindsight, a difficult one. I was a very shy child so I retreated back to my imagination and took solace in drawing characters that I loved. Cute Japanese aesthetic, anime and classic Walt Disney animated features played a major role in my artistic journey. I think my deep love for creating started here.

Those formative years trying to find a place to “fit in” were a bit of a struggle for a sheltered introvert. But little did I know that I would soon find lifelong friendships during junior high and high school. They made me feel welcome in a new environment, accepted, and seen as a creative individual. That solidified my path into the visual arts.

Once college rolled around, there was never a question what my degree would be. My initial interests pointed me to animation, but I realized that my ambitions had evolved more towards commercial art and design. I finally committed to a double major in graphic design and illustration. My objective side thrived in visual problem solving with design and my subjective side loved learning techniques and skills in drawing, painting, and creating visual narratives. I graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and I set off into the “real world” working as an in-house graphic designer.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As much as I would like to design it in a minimalistic timeline with lots of white space and Helvetica, life doesn’t quite run in that organized way. I figured school, college, graduation, then career was the path to success. I’ve worked on a lot of different projects including marketing, web design, logos, branding, book covers, layouts, publishing, lettering, and typography. But after several years as an in-house designer, I could feel myself struggling with new insecurities and indecision. I’m a planner at heart and doubting the trajectory of my profession opens up the personal question and importance of making art for the sake of creating.

Fast forward to 2015 when I was fortunate enough to be able to shift to designing as a freelancer and being able to reconnect with my illustration. I didn’t realize how much I had missed drawing and painting and being able to think of an image and manifesting that into a piece of artwork. This presented a new challenge of trying to find my audience and a space to share this new work.

Reworking and rethinking and recalibrating these new directions are what I struggle with today. But I am reminded constantly that life is about learning and changing with the tides and an “end goal” is not always as important as forward-thinking and everyday progress.

Please tell us about Hey It’s Grace.
“Hey It’s Grace” is a re-introduction. I want it to reflect a casual camaraderie. I started it to find my creative voice and rekindle that giddy excitement I had as a kid when making stories & bringing my imagination to life. I want to use it as a vehicle to explore different avenues in the creative field. Through the past few years, I’ve worked on tabling and vending at art fairs, conventions, and small grassroots fan-based events (which are my favorite). I showcase my original illustrations, fan art tributes, and a lot of corgi drawings. I’ve also worked on multiple graphic design projects including book designs, layouts, posters, branded marketing materials, and custom logos.

My personal artwork leans towards very feminine and soft motifs. I love drawing rounded characters that feel comforting and cute. My design aesthetic is more minimalistic, clean and a bit more “buttoned up”. But I think that juxtaposition is what makes me unique and sets me apart. I’m proud to be adaptable with each project that comes my way and working with each client’s needs.

What were you like growing up?
I have always been a little bit reserved. I was a shy and quiet kid until I deemed it safe to open up. I was pretty studious and did fairly well academically, but I was always the most thrilled when it came to solving something creatively. Whether it was designing, drawing, and assembling a fictitious magazine in elementary school or painting the giant colorful posters at the high school assembly, I was never more alight with joy than when creating.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal Photo: Duy Le, Artwork Photos: Grace Le

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