Artist Name: Choua Xiong
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
I consider myself a simple artist who just wants to tell poignant stories with my art.
What kinds of work do you currently do or what kinds of projects you have done in the past?
My work mainly consists of manga, comics, digital and watercolor painting. I love telling stories, which is why I’ve always been so drawn to manga and anime. I currently have a webtoon series titled “Angry Little Hmong Girl.” I also have multiple manga series ideas that have been in the works for years. My goal is to tell stories with Hmong characters and generate discussion on contentious topics within the Hmong community. I also want to tell stories that all audiences can just enjoy and appreciate as well.
Could you talk about how you got into art or doing what you do today? What’s your story? What made you want to pursue this path? Were there any challenges you had along the way?
I’ve been drawing since I could remember like a lot of artists. With my sheltered upbringing, all I could really do in the house was watch anime and play video games; which is where I drew my inspiration to start drawing. Art is something I became passionate about as I grew over the years.
I’ve won a couple of art contests throughout my journey, but my parents never approved of my pursuit in an art career. I also had a High School counselor tell me that art is just a thing most people do as a hobby and not as a career. Thus, I ended up with a B.S. in Zoology and minor in Environmental Studies instead of a degree in art.
However, even with a STEM focused education, I never really gave up art. I still practiced art and promised myself to never give it up. I had a kind art teacher in the past who had told me “You’ve been doing art your whole life. Why give it up?” Her words always stuck with me and was one of the pillars that has held up my determination to this day. Even though my current career path is completely different from what I would like to do with art, I hope I can someday commit myself fully to my art projects. There’s a lot of ideas that I want to complete and share.
Did you attended art school or majored/minored in Art or Design in college? If so, what were your experiences with it and did you think it helped you become a better artist? If you did not attended college or attended but did not majored in anything art-related, what helped pushed you to pursue art or improve your craft?
(answered in previous question)
How do you balance art with work and life? How do you make time for art?
I’m still figuring it out. Working fulltime has taken up more time from my hobbies than expected. It has also drained my motivation and energy. I struggle a lot to find time to practice. But determination and will is what keeps me going. I don’t want to give up my craft.
Do you make money from your art? If so, how?
I make some small profits here and there through small commissions. Mainly through my social network.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from stories I’ve seen, heard or read. I also get my ideas by listening to music. Something about the visual arts and music as a combined force just generates a lot of inspiration for me. Being out in the wilderness also inspires me, by calming my mind and allowing the ideas to just flow naturally without distractions of the city life.
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work or what is your typical artistic process like?
For traditional paintings, I enjoy using watercolors. For manga, I use sumi ink and maru pens and G pens. As for digital works, I use a Wacom tablet and Painttool Sai.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
There are lots! Just to name a few, Lauren Brenver, Ozabu and Viichae. The list goes on, I can’t pick just one artist. I’m constantly finding new artists and getting inspired by their works and stories.
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
Instagram and Pinterest. Haha. Youtube has quite a few talented artists as well.
Is there any advice you would like to give to young artists or people just starting out?
Time waits for no one. So keep on practicing and reach for your goals.
Who would you like to collaborate/work with or work for, if anybody? Could be a person, another artist, or company.
I wouldn’t mind working for Webtoon. However, I’ve noticed that they’ve become more focused on quantity rather than quality, which in turn overworks their artists. So maybe not. Haha. Any supportive publishing webcomic or manga company would be a dream to me.
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’ll like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
I’ve had a story in mind for a while that I want to make a manga about. The tentative title for it right now is “Reincarnation.” I’ve been developing the story and characters for years on and off. It’s a story that I want to use as a platform to discuss contentious topic within the Hmong community. I want to stir up discussions about these topics so that the Hmong community can begin moving forward with these issues. I also want to use it as a platform for younger generations to learn more about their own culture. And of course, I want it to be a story that all people of different backgrounds can enjoy and appreciate.
Are there any current projects that you’re working on or in the near future that you want to tell us about?
I am currently working on a small manga anecdote titled “Origin of My Name.” I began writing it when I took a Comics making class with Lynda Barry. She helped me break out of my shell and reconcile my love for storytelling. It will be an anecdote that discusses my Hmong American Woman experience.
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?