If you’re anything like me when you see some amazing, cool, and beautiful art on social media, you instantly like, retweet/reblog, and check out the artist that captivated you. This was the case for me when I stumbled upon Vicki’s work.
Vicki Tsai, most prominently known online by her moniker vickisigh, is an Asian-American artist residing in California. Much of her art is a mixture of original art and fan art that ranges from K-pop groups like Red Velvet and characters from Overwatch. But most of all, what I admire most about Vicki is that she will showcase female and POC empowerment and representation in her art.
I was lucky enough to get an interview with her and get some words right from the artist.
When and how did you get into being an artist?
I’ve been interested in drawing from a young age. I’d say my earliest memory of having an interest in doodling was around 4 years old. Of course at that time it was nothing fancy or anything to write home about, but as the years went on I found myself still doodling in class, drawing at home, and wanting to learn more about art. It wasn’t really until I entered college that I started to take the possibility of being an artist seriously and took time and effort to hone my craft.
What do you enjoy drawing?
Girls and cute things, mostly. Women now that I’m older and have more perspective on what it’s like being an “adult”, though that word still mystifies me.
What medium/program do you typically use?
When I work digitally I’m most comfortable with Paint Tool SAI. I had a run with Photoshop in the past, but the two of us never quite seemed to find our stride. When I work traditionally I love using copic markers and acrylic paints. I like working with very opaque colors which is why I’ll be trying out gouache next, I’m very excited!
What is your drawing/artistic process like?
I’ve never felt like I could define my process until I had to. It all begins with living life and finding inspiration in everyday experiences. I’m pretty easily influenced by the media I consume and surround myself with and will often create things that reflect my current interests. As for the technical side, my process is pretty standard. Sketch, clean up sketch, color or ink, and add finishing touches. I wish I could say it’s much grander than that but that’s about it.
Where do you find inspiration? Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
Everywhere really. I think I really started to pick up on this idea when I was in high school and I was finally interested in diving deeper into what I consumed. Whether it was museum visits, reading literature, surfing the internet, or reflecting on my daily experiences I was able to find inspiration in every corner of my life. I’m really inspired by people who are on a life journey of improvement. I think it’s a difficult thing for anyone to do, that it takes a lot of patience, honesty, and work. But at the same time I think it’s necessary and if there were any meaning to life it would be to become the best version of yourself. As for technical skill, I’ve always admired Klimt, Mondrian, Schiele, and Kruger. I also love the work of Fuyumi Soryo and Ai Yazawa. I like artwork that is bold and imbued with feeling.
What are some projects you currently have taken in the past (that you’re able to disclose)?
I’ve worked with Overwatch a few times and that has been really exciting and massive learning experiences each time. Other than that I’ve mainly worked for myself and creating my own products, which has been incredibly rewarding but also uniquely challenging and incredibly confusing at times.
Can you tell us what it’s like to be working alongside Blizzard and Overwatch? How did you get started with them?
It’s a dream come true and it’s incredibly fun! I love how they interact with their community and encourage fans to contribute to their franchise. It’s like we’re a big group of friends sharing and talking about something we all love! I actually got the game as a birthday present for my partner because he was really interested in it. I knew little to nothing about the game at the time, but watching him play then taking the controller in my own hands was, not to sound dramatic, life changing. I’d never played a FPS that had the level of finesse, quality, and charm that Overwatch has and it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the characters and their world. So naturally, one of the first things I do when I love something is draw about it. I posted the art on Twitter where someone running the Overwatch account found it and retweeted it. That was such an exciting moment, I remember feeling so flustered and truly at a loss for words. It was the impetus that helped people at Blizzard see my work and decide that I’d be a good fit for their game.
What are you currently working on now (i.e. The Art Corner podcast) and can you talk a little bit about each of these projects?
So The Art Corner podcast that I co-host with Anoosha Syed is basically a resource for other artists as well as a forum for us to discuss issues we’ve faced or knowledge we’ve acquired while working as artists. We want it to be both accessible and approachable, like you’re having a conversation with friends, so that artists, new and experienced, can benefit from the discussions and information we share.
In terms of personal work, I’m continuing to work on and build my brand and trying out new types of merchandise. My dream is to create cute stationary and products that can put a smile on your face or add a bit of light and happiness to your space. I really love brands like Sanrio and Pusheen, the latter was a big part of my childhood, because they make everything cute and it makes me happy just to see the cute faces of the characters on things like pencil bags and cups. I think it’s important to find happiness and enjoyment in the everyday parts of life and having cute things in your space can really do wonders. I know that it’s definitely helped me out a lot.
What have been some of your favorite things to draw and why?
Anything that’s colorful really. I love working with color so much, I just feel like it breathes this incredible beauty and life to art and I try to fill both my art and life with as much color as possible.
What’s your favorite thing about sharing your art on social media?
Getting to meet new people and make friends is what it comes down to! I think social media can be tricky at times because it’s so easy to only focus on numbers and engagement, but when I think about what really matters it’s the artists and pals I’ve made that have truly made the experience fun. It’s also been helpful in sharing my art with a large amount of people and companies who may otherwise have never seen my work.
Do you face any challenges as a woman of color artist? How do you combat those challenges?
I’ve been pretty lucky with the opportunities I’ve had and I don’t think I’ve been purposefully turned down for a position because of my race. I’ve also been able to find a part of the art community on Twitter that is very conscious about the lack of diversity in mainstream media and tries to combat that by offering jobs to people of color and creating space for marginalized creators to share their stories and creative projects. That doesn’t mean that my experience speaks for everyone and I empathize with those who have faced unfair challenges based on their identity. I try to do my part and pay it forward by boosting the voices and work of other people of color when I can. I think it’s important that we support each other in industries that are notorious for spotlighting certain voices over others.
What are some resources you recommend for artists of color?
I think the importance of these will differ from person to person, but I’ve found that podcasts, music, and books/comics are things I regularly turn to when I’m feeling lost. Of course it’s important to talk with people you trust, but there’s only so much other people can do for you. Sometimes you have to just depend on yourself and trust that you are enough to help pull yourself out of a difficult time. There are unique hardships that people of color face that can make one feel exhausted and I think ultimately it’s important to take care of yourself in those moments. Books are especially useful because you can learn from other people’s experiences in all sorts of time periods and see how they may have dealt with struggles and find comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Feelings like uncertainty, self-doubt, and isolation are universal and it can be comforting to know that while your experience is unique, there are plenty of others who have felt the same things you did and still found ways to navigate through life despite dark moments.
What advice would you give yourself five years ago? Five years down the road?
To myself five years ago, don’t be afraid to try new things and stop holding yourself back. To myself five years down the road oh gosh…remember to stay open-minded and continue to share your love with others? I’m so bad at thinking about the future, but I hope future me is still learning about herself and learning about how to help others.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Do the darned thing. If there’s something you want to see in this world, don’t wait for someone else to make it, make it yourself. And remember that working hard and working smart will never let you down. Your favorite artists got to where they are by practicing a lot. And lastly, don’t be afraid of failure, it’s one of the quickest ways to learn. I’ve failed countless times, but what matters is that we get back up on our feet and keep moving forward. Keep that in mind and you’ll do just fine. ❤