Today we’d like to introduce you to Vivian Shih.
Vivian, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have loved embracing my imagination ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, I would take my crayons and draw scenes on the walls of my living room. In one of my first art classes around age 7, I got in trouble for drawing my own characters rather than copying characters out of books, which was our assignment.
I’ve always had a natural entrepreneurial spirit – in grade school I had a “stationary company” where I invited my best friends to come over and cut and draw our own stationary that we would bring to school to sell to our classmates for 5o cents! I made “newsletters” once a week with my sister where we designed everything in Microsoft word, wrote articles by ourselves on things we liked from Barbies to our favorite cartoons and illustrated the stories to pair with our childish writing.
I’ve always been rebellious in nature, and while I grew up in a town where I was a minority and felt like I didn’t fit in, art was an outlet for me to express myself and escape from adolescent stresses.
I eventually studied illustration at Art Center College of Design where I sacrificed my early 20’s to refine my creative skills instead of partying and socializing like other kids my age at the time. Of course, I had to release on occasion, but because I felt I was behind on my skillsets compared to my classmates, I was extremely dedicated to bettering myself as an artist and designer.
After I graduated, I took on a couple in-house jobs in graphic design and surface design, eventually leaving full-time work to pursue freelance illustration, and in the last few years have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects ranging from wallpaper design and editorial illustration to social media marketing project and large-scale murals.
I’m grateful for my ambitious nature as it took years of dedication and persistence to get to where I am, however, I still have much left to grow!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s definitely been a longggg, bumpy road full of rocks! I’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. How to hold myself and my work to a high standard, to ask for the amount of compensation, and to ALWAYS include late fees in your contract.
In the first few years, I’ve messed up on jobs, broken contracts by accident, and been taken advantage of time and time again. I am grateful to have experienced all of these difficult moments early on, as they have taught me how to be a smarter creative professional and businesswoman.
Vivian Shih Illustration – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer with concentrations in the pattern, portraits, lifestyle and fashion. I believe people are drawn to the emotional aspect and honesty of my work, as well as when I create work to focus on social and environmental issues.
What sets me apart is that I focus on the art and creativity side of design so that my work can be natural and authentic, like the human experience. Emotions play a big part in my work and I involve myself emotionally in every project that I take on.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is being grateful for all that I have at the moment, and being able to do what I love every day.