I AM AN ARTIST FEATURE | SUSAN CHIANG

As part of launch week of my new I Am An Artist Print + Project, I am introducing you to some of my favorite artists and how their print reflects their journeys and who they are. Today is the very first artist feature and I am so excited to share my friend and talented artist Susan’s work and words with you below!

SUSANCHIANG.COM | @SUSANCHIANG

I always knew I was “artistic”, but I never thought of myself as an artist until recently. Even though I had been creating things from a young age, it always felt like an “extracurricular” and never something that would become anything. I went to college undeclared and spent my first semester taking classes like Econ 101 and Comp Sci 101 thinking I would major in business or computer science. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon architecture, where I discovered I would get to take ART classes mixed in with technical classes that I KNEW I had found my major. It was like having the best of both worlds! Architecture school really challenged my creativity, thought process, and problem-solving skills in the best way. I was ALL in.

So many people who follow this path love architecture school but when they enter the corporate world, they quickly realize it’s not at all what they had signed up for. I think I was an exception. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful mentor and begin working in the design sector of the field. I worked in the architecture field for 13 years getting the opportunity to be a part of designing spaces like schools, hospitals, libraries, and creative start-up offices. I even became a licensed architect early on in my career.

Still, I never thought of myself as an artist. I was an architect. And even though I was creating…it never felt like art.

During the time I was working, I had stopped any sort of creative habit. No drawing, no painting…nothing. It wasn’t until I picked up calligraphy (for my wedding) and then watercolors after I quit my corporate job due to health reasons…that I reunited with art and eventually began to see myself as an artist.

The biggest shift? That what I was creating was for myself and not for anyone else. The second biggest shift? It didn’t have to be ‘buildable’. I could do whatever I wanted and it didn’t have to follow any rules except for my own.

In this piece, I wanted to revisit the part of architecture school that I remember feeling the most like art. And that was when I first learned how to draft and render site plans. They were beautiful to me – a whole other way of seeing the world. This is a nod to one of the earliest architecture projects I designed in college, where I first learned how to create a site plan.

It represents the combination of two parts of me as an artist: the technical ‘architect’ side and the nontechnical ‘artist’ side. The pencil lines show my appreciation of technical drawings and creating with intent. The watercolor shows my love of learning to ‘let go’ and creating with intuition.

Being an artist feels like an ever-changing journey. We are informed by our past and will continue to be informed by each day we live. And each time we make something, it’s a mark of who we are in that moment as an artist. 

Does this resonate with you? Has it taken you awhile to feel like you were creating art? Are there many sides of you that show up in the work you make?

I love the last line in Susan’s story. It is ever-changing and each mark represents who who are in that place and time as an artist.

You can learn more about Susan by visiting her website, SusanChiang.com, her YouTube Channel, or on Instagram @susanchiang_. (If you are interested in watercolors, she has an awesome membership as well as a free monthly challenge!)

Thank you Susan for being the first person I shared this idea with and for all of your encouragement and support throughout the years! I appreciate you taking the time to be a part of this–I love connecting your story to the lines, shapes, and colors in your piece. Each element has so much meaning.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s artist feature! If you feel a connection to nature, I think you’ll especially enjoy this artist and her work. Have a wonderful rest of your day and talk to you then!

PS: Fun fact, Susan and I met on the internet! Through Instagram to be exact, when we both started dabbling in calligraphy. We realized we clicked, had a lot in common, and lived only 15 minutes apart in real life! We’ve been both business buds and friends ever since :)

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