"how do you find time to work on your personal work?" I get asked this a lot from students.
I don't, and I don't.
I know, this is probably not the answer aspiring illustrators want to hear.
One of the reasons is that luckily, there are enough clients who call me for what I naturally do well, so I have enough jobs where there is a lot of freedom.
And another, and more important reason is, because I want to try out different things. Essentially, I am doing personal work, personal experiment, but it does not need to come out as 'illustrations I do for myself'.
One of the example is creating my own living environment. I had worked on this for last year and half, putting in as much effort, research, work and passion as I do to my illustrations.
Trust me, I used the same idea I use for illustrations: There are compositions, rhythm, color scheme, positive and negative spaces, dense and sparce....
When I moved to New York in the summer of 1999 with a student visa, I had no money other than savings from my previous corporate job, which I needed to live off for the next four years in school. I bought all my basic furniture from a guy who was moving out of a room I was moving into.
I ended up schlepping the furniture around for next ten years, to various apartments all over New York City.
A year and half ago, I finally decided I will move to a "permanent address", and start everything over again from scratch.
When I moved to my current apartment, I asked my moving truck to stop by to the Salvation Army, and dropped off almost all my furniture off. (except my red Barcelona chair which I treated myself with after I finished a painfully torturous advertising job a few years back). I didn't even have a mattress, and had to sleep on an ottoman bed in the living room for the first few month. Then I slowly build the apartment to where I really wanted to be.
I am really excited my favorite magazine thought it was worthwhile featuring about. Big thank you to Wendy Goodman and Leonor Mamanna of New York Magaizne, and everyone who had helped me to make the apartment the way it looks now.
The apartment is stil work in progress. The couch took a year and half of back and forth between Spruce Austin down in Texas. It finally arrived just a few weeks ago. (I had a 'couch arrival party').
Many of the decorating items are bought from etsy, some from ebay, and some are purchased during my many travels to many cities mostly during school visits. I try not to forget to stop by to local antique stores and flea markets.
Apartment is actually still in progress. The last photo was taken this morning. A friend gave me a beautiful baby rose bouquet for my birthday, and somehow it just turned itself into a perfect dry flower. So, I decided to decorate my vintage birdcage with the roses. Looks eery cool. Well, at least, that's what I think!