Interview with Artist Jamie Chiang

By Patricia Rogers

I first met Jamie when a good friend of mine, Amonnie Nicholas, made her transition into being a Valley Girl  meaning she moved into an apartment with Jamie near Highland Avenue train station, the stop of New Jersey’s Valley Arts District.  They both also happen to be students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (NY).  Originally from Taiwan, she moved to Orange, New Jersey and jumped right into the art scene here.  She’s done illustration work for myself and Brittany Craig’s local food blog Britt Bites, and although she plans to move to Queens there is still more to come.

P.R.: When did you come to America? 

 J.C.:  Almost five years ago =)

If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you? 

Of course not.  Physically, 21, spiritually, 28, and biologically, 25.

How did you use art to adjust living in a new country?

Hmm…. I sketch?  I like to do sketching to document my life and the surroundings =)

What brought you to the east coast?  How has it been so far?

Art brought me to the East coast because I thought it’d be the best environment to immerse myself in.  The first year was rough, and I’m so glad I’m over it, lol.

Talk about living with another visual artist studying their medium at FIT.

Hahaha, it’s great!  Amonnie is a great painter and interestingly I’m more a drawer, so I guess we can learn from each other.  It’s very nice to live with someone who’s in the same industry with you, I think, so you can knock on her door in the midnight just to ask for her advice and wake her up in the morning to go to school together.

Talk about your journey as an artist.

Hmm… I always liked to doodle in class, on the margins of the textbooks, but didn’t take it seriously.  Not until I came to the U.S. and thought to myself, OK, so this is the last shot, when I die one day, I want to die with doing something I love.  So I started studying Art at a community college in Seattle.  Before that, I didn’t receive any academic training in art.  I still remember how one of my teachers looked at my art, lol.  His stare was in despair, as if he’s saying in his mind, “What the hell is this Muggle doing at my school??”  Indeed there was some time that I doubted myself, but I never gave up, because I believe I have something special that although I may not quite explain yet.

After two years at Seattle Central Community College, I transferred to School of Visual Arts in NY first because during that time FIT did not accept me yet.  Did I tell you that I got rejected twice by FIT?  Lol.  After finished my freshman year at SVA (already broke), I again said to myself, OK, although I don’t believe in God, whoever is out there, this is my third shot, lol.  If FIT still did not want me, I’d stay at SVA 'till I graduate.

Then I guess someone heard my wish.

I’m now much more clear on what I want to create and happy with my life =) 

How was it working with Brittany Craig in creating a logo for her new food blog, Britt Bites? 

Flattered and appreciative =).  Brittany is a good client; she’s clear on what she wants and delivers that message clearly to me =).  I’d love to work with her again in the future.  Like… I heard she has a children’s book?  Lol

Who are some people you have met in the Valley Arts District that you would like to work with?

TONS OF!!!  Okay, so I moved to Orange out of a random decision.  NJ was an unknown place on the left side of Manhattan to me.  I was surprised and excited to learn that the Arts District is just around the corner!  (Thanks for Amonnie introducing me to the big family.)  I was glad to go to the ERA show, and it literally brightened my eyes!  So many young, talented, active and self-taught artists.  The vibe that night really dazzled me =).  And that’s the time I was thinking, if only I could know English better so I could keep up with what people were rapping about. So like maybe I can know how to appreciate Ray’s and Peter’s music more.

Sorry I’m a little digressed here.  I could name a few people here like Patricia.  I really do admire her because she runs an online magazine;  she’s a writer who has a business mindset;  Brittany, as I said, good to work with.  She loves her food blog and is really dedicated to it. It’s nothing better to work with someone who loves what they’re doing.  Vlad, a dedicated artist, too, and I secretly love the classic style he dresses, lol.  I’d love to do a character design based on him.

Talk about your experience studying at FIT.

Love it, don’t need to run around in campus between classes like you do in universities.  Inspiring classmates and helpful professors who teach you how to get into the business besides drawing and painting.

Oh and lastly, affordable tuition =).

Who are your biggest artist inspirations?

Van Gogh, to remind me what the passion in art is.

Edward Hopper to show me how profound the solitude in his paintings is.

Contemporary San Francisco-based artist, Paul Madonna, to show me the possibilities for ink wash drawings.

How do you want your art to make an impact on the world?

Wow… that’s a big admiration.  I’d only wish for my 15-minutes of fame to come first, lol.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?  What are your biggest aspirations as an artist? 

I want to settle down in Seattle after I graduate because that’s where I first landed in this country, and I miss the lakes and mountains there =).  Hopefully I’ll already be a full-time editorial illustrator who’s able to sustain the living by doing what she loves to do =).

What is the most important aspect of being an artist?  why? 

To me, it is to express myself because sometimes I’m not really good at communicating verbally.  I found myself better at articulating ideas and thoughts through drawing and writing.

Future projects / shows you want us to know about? 

Well, in this summer I plan to do more ink drawings to put into my portfolio.  If you like my style, please subscribe at or follow me on Facebook: Jamie’s Pen&Ink

Anything else you want to add to this interview?

I’m really grateful to be given this chance to feature on Masconsumption.  I’m grateful to live in this culturally nourished area.  I’m grateful to have a supportive family and a small circle of friends who love me.

About the Writer

Patricia Rogers, #ValleyGirlNJ, lives in New Jersey's Valley Arts District.  The native New Yorker works as a writer, blogger and community activist. Starting Masconsumption Media in 2012, she has been passionate about capturing the stories of the vibrant up and coming Valley Arts District neighborhood through her blog, zine, events and more.  She blogs for Jersey Indie, Luna Stage, and Hat City Kitchen and offers many creative media services.  Visit her blog and keep up with your favorite Valley Girl on social media at @valleygirl_nj (Twitter / Instagram).