We had the good fortune of connecting with Phoebe Wang and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Phoebe, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?

When I first started college straight out of high school, I had no work-life balance—it was all work and no life. I was a hardworking student, and to be honest, I was competitively driven and wanted my art to be the best I could possibly make it, but I didn’t understand the value of health and rest. Through countless all-nighters, I pushed my body to maximize work. You should never think that you don’t deserve to eat dinner and instead work through hunger because you were not as productive as you planned to be… yet I thought that in my first semester. That is wrong; your body and mind deserve and need rest! I think it’s important to recognize how you work, and therefore what works for you in addition to what is healthy. This goes for both one’s art process and life process. My work-life balance has changed drastically from then to now. When Covid-19 hit and I spent my last two years of college taking online classes in my apartment, I began to rest more. I developed many hobbies such as learning guitar, learning and perfecting steak-cooking skills and becoming an indoor gardening plant mom.
I use a physical planner and draw small boxes before each task so I can feel satisfaction from visually checking off a task one step at a time. Quarantine made me become more intentional with reaching out to friends, and being part of a community fulfills some of the “life” part of the balance, albeit online. Recently, I began creating time in my schedule to play badminton with my friends weekly and consider my physical health more seriously. Having a work-life balance also depends on your priorities, based on where you are in your life (i.e. a student vs someone starting a family would be very different) and requires you to juggle more things. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m learning to create flexible 1, 3, and 5-year goals for both work and life as a starting point.

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.

I’ve enjoyed drawing my whole life, but it was only in high school that I discovered illustration as a possible major. The idea of creating conceptual illustrations — images that can speak a thousand words — excited me so much. Once I entered ArtCenter College of Design for Illustration, I discovered a track within the major called Entertainment Arts, where most of my peers already knew they wanted to design for film and games. As for me, it took 4 semesters before I committed to this industry. I was awed by the high-level drawings and paintings done for film that emanate so much story and emotion. However, very early in school, I fell in love with the vibrancy, texture, and technicality of oil paints, reaching a comfort level that made me hesitant to enter the largely digital world of the entertainment industry. Eventually, I was able to see this new challenge as a bridge to elevate my art and continue to explore the unknown.
In addition to my background in oil painting, I have a passion for reading fantasy novels and writing poetry. My interests help me mold and identify certain elements of art that appeal to me, such as painterly brushstrokes, lost and found edges, organic subjects and designs, and figurative work or portraiture. I am excited about communicating form through 2D mediums as if I’m sculpting, as my instructor David Luce always said the mark-making should flow over the subject “like water over rocks”. I also recognize my interest in naturalistic and atmospheric lighting that create a strong mood and a sense of space.
Many artists put a big focus on developing an art style. But, I think style is part of a personal language that artists begin to develop by allowing for moments of flow, identifying their appeals, and by keeping an open mind for discovery. Currently, I want to focus on creating art that intensifies life and chases emotion.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a tough question for me, because there is a lot in L.A. that I’ve yet to experience. If a friend came to visit, I would probably take them to visit the beautiful garden of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Then we could go to Old Town Pasadena to eat at Chong Qing YaoMei Hotpot, and maybe treat ourselves to some gelato at Hello Gelato or taiyaki and souffles at Miss Cheese Tea Cafe! (P.S. cheese foam and crème brûlée on souffle is an amazing combination.) It would be fun to picnic and grill at the firepits of Huntington Beach and watch the sunset together. If we tour ArtCenter’s Hillside Campus at night, I would take them to the sculpture garden overlooking Pasadena and watch the city of stars twinkle below.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First I want to thank my parents for supporting the pursuit of my passion. A shoutout to my friends, Courtney, Eunbi, Matt, Jonathan, Christine, Yuja, and Sojin, who are my biggest supporters and comrades for our experiences together during art school. I want to give a shoutout to the instructors I saw as mentors: Charles Hu, Cliff Nielson, Noah Klocek, and David Luce. Specifically, I want to give a shoutout to my mentor and former instructor, David Luce, for having more faith in me than I did in myself. Instructors like you, with a balance of tough love and compassion, are jewels to a school and important mentors to students.

Website: https://www.phoebewang.art/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phoebehorselover/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/phoebewangart/

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