We had the good fortune of connecting with Joy Chen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joy, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Before deciding to pursue a creative career, I was deeply involved in the study of politics and public policy. I wanted to create effective change on issues that were important to me. However, I was unsure of the route I wanted to take. During this time, I was also discovering myself as an artist through the medium of photography. I began shooting series on the topics of Asian American women, sexual assault, and trauma. All issues that continued to manifest in my advocacy work in politics. I was able to discover that my voice was more powerful when I was able to express it through a visual medium. Ever since then, I have continued to explore and educate myself on a variety of mediums past photography. However, this only launched my desire to enter as a creative into the workforce. From there, I worked hard to create a meaningful portfolio that exemplified the work that I was proud of. I currently attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Design | Media Arts program. Here, I have been able to expand on these topics and share my work, which has ultimately allowed me to create a greater impact than I would have imagined a few years ago. Currently, in my career, I am working in the fashion industry. I have worked as a junior digital designer at Jonathan Simkhai in Los Angeles, where I was allowed to expand my skills and knowledge as a creative. During my time there, it launched my desire to create a fashion editorial with my friend, Tiffany Hue. This editorial, META MAG, was created in September 2020, and it aims to elevate the voices of POC/BIPOC and underrepresented groups in the fashion industry. It is a Los Angeles-based collective, with writers, photographers, designers, and illustrators, who discuss the influence of fashion in the arts and political realm. As the Creative Director and founder, I had the honor of being able to infuse my past background in politics and design to create these quarterly editorials that are always a labor of love.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The art that I create is focused on social activism, and combining that with any visual medium. My most recent projects have been focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the Asian American population, and the political and social barriers that have been constructed. A year ago, I created my first project using masks and the phrase “I am just trying to stay safe” after one of the first attacks on Asian American elderly occurred in the United States. We saw a lot of fear-mongering occur in March and April of 2020, and I wanted to create work that brought awareness to it. I created an immersive experience that could be felt in person or virtually through augmented reality technology. This experience was filled with images and videos from February to April of all the attacks, comments, and actions that many took to ostracize and demonize the Asian community in the United States. As I said before, my work is also centered on personal experiences. I think every artist is unique, as they constantly have their voices and it always shows in their work. For me, I know that my stories and the way that I can tell my stories visually are what adds to my uniqueness as an artist. Whether it be through analyzing the idea of compassion and gratefulness for those we love or the feelings of being trapped, I love what I can create and the freedom to create my work. My work in the fashion industry has always been exciting. I think I learn something new every day. Whether it be creating new graphics, brand identity, or working on photos, it has been a great experience and, I cannot wait to continue to grow as a creative. In terms of my professional career, I think I got to where I am through my determination and late nights. I never stop working, as I am always wanting to feel productive or to be creating something. I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have had presented to me and, for all the people who believed in me and saw the work that I was doing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take them to Kochi in West Hollywood! They have some of my favorite spicy tuna crispy rice that I have ever tasted. I would take them on a museum tour (partially because I want to visit a lot of the museums I have not had a chance to see yet. I would also take them to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena! It is beautiful and calming. It is a perfect place to spend a day, and unwind. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I love this question! I think it is really important to recognize that our success is not ours alone, and we continually are supported by a mountain of people to get to where we are today. I first want to give a shoutout to my family. I think growing up as an Asian American woman, I was never expected to become creative or pursue a creative path. I am always thankful for the support my family had for me to attend a university with a creative major and also for supporting me in all my endeavors. The next shoutout I want to give is to my co-founder and partner, Tiffany Hue. Even though we met back in the Summer, I feel like I’ve known Tiffany for a lifetime. I am very thankful to her for creating our child, META MAG, together and for the constant energy that she pours into META. Without her, I know this project would not have been as successful as it is today. Also, want to say that META would be nothing without its brilliant staff, full of creative and bright individuals! Finally, I want to give recognition to Gracy Lavey, who was and still is my mentor. She was my Art Director at Jonathan Simkhai, and constantly challenged me and encouraged me to be the best creative I could be. Without her, I do not think I would be where I am today and I am always thankful for her.