Jessica So Ren Tang
The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Jessica So Ren Tang: Jessica So Ren Tang, 25, Warehouse Production, Cavallini & Co.
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
JSRT: I spend most of my time outside of my day job on my personal artwork. I wouldn't call my time spent on my art a hobby, but more like a second job. Embroidery is a tedious and time consuming medium. A few hours of stitching might not look like any progress was made. My eagerness to finish a project is what motivates me. Even after a busy day of work, I look forward to putting at least an hour or so in my embroidery.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
JSRT: I believe that to improve as an artist, I need to continuously make art, even bad art. I can't sit and wait for inspiration to motivate me. I have to make work to get better. Thankfully, my job is quite different from my art and that keeps me focused.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
JSRT: I think in the evenings I am the most creative because that's when I usually get work done. Once I find suitable background noise I start getting into a flow and embroider until I'm exhausted. Sometimes, right when I'm about to go to bed, I get a new idea for a project and thinking about it keeps me awake.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
JSRT: As of right now, my goal is to create a portfolio to work at Laika Studios, a stop motion animation company in Portland, Oregon. I have projects lined up to gradually build up the necessary skills to be a costume fabricator. Until then, I will always be making art that I want to see in the world. I hope that once I achieve my dream job I will still be working on my embroidery art.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
JSRT: All of my work is personal. I get my ideas from my Chinese American identity. Both my girl series and object series I draw from my experiences and culture of being an American-born Chinese woman. Being ethnically Chinese I'm too foreign to be seen as typically American and yet I'm too Americanized to be Chinese. In my girl series, I focus on the exterior, the skin as a reflection of this odd balance of two cultures. The identity of the girls is questioned-their facial features removed of their ethnic markers but replaced with Asian textiles. It's not obvious if these girls are Asian and their body language and poses are suggestive and feminine. In my object series, I look for objects that hold significance as a Chinese American. The Chinese take out box is a symbol for Chinese fast food and easily recognizable as a Chinese object in American culture. The fortune cookie was invented in America but considered to be a Chinese object. I look for images and objects that explore these ideas of identity and things that take on dual meanings and significance.
TCU: What scares you?
JSRT: I'm scared of permanent damage to my hands and wrists or losing my eyesight. I don't know if I would want to live in a world where I can't make art anymore.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
JSRT: Success is finishing a piece of work that I am happy with.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
JSRT: About a year ago I created my Instagram account to record and share my progress. Having a community react to my work became a great motivator to keep working and sharing.