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Q&A with Michael Hsiung

Artist working and living in Los Angeles

My name is Michael C. Hsiung, and I'm an artist working and living in Los Angeles, CA. I make drawings and do various freelance projects, and am also the online content editor for the Vans art tumblr!

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

I was inspired to become an artist/illustrator when I moved back to Los Angeles from San Jose, CA, where I had graduated as an English major and found myself working aimlessly in various industries. It wasn't until I moved back to Los Angeles where I started drawing more. I eventually found a job at a museum as an assistant grant writer, but always found myself drawing and doing projects here and there. One day, I was laid off from my job, and that's when I decided to try and make art my full time job. It wasn't easy, but I felt I had found my calling.

What tools do you use to organize your work?

My wife and I are some what of thrifter / collector types, so I've accumulated neat little boxes over time for pens and brushes, but I also use mason jars and shelves to organize paper and other supplies. I'm working on getting a new flat file for drawings because before that I kept my drawings in a box under my bed.

What is your ideal work environment?

I used to have a drawing studio in my bedroom that I shared with my wife Rachel, but recently we just moved to a two bedroom place in LA. I think I finally get to create my ideal work environment which would be a room where I can use as a studio and surround myself with unicorn paraphernalia.

Where does your design inspiration come from? 

My design inspirations come from mythology, fantasy art books, Dungeons & Dragons, comics, history books, costume books and from the strange and weird art collection we've accumulated from thrift stores. I have an old book by John Ashton called Curious Creatures of Zoology that I used to read and find inspiration in as well as the mapmaking works of Olaus Magnus. I own various books on viking, celtic, and/or western fashion books that I use to reference more, but nowadays it can come from a snippet of something I saw on the History channel to someone I saw walking down the street.

Who are the artists you admire most?

I probably admire my sister Pearl C. Hsiung who is an artist and painter the most because she's tough, hard working, persistent, and always going to make paintings, even if there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.