Just looking at Flora Chang’s artwork makes you smile. Her work is not only a natural for coloring books (hope you've started your masterpieces), “Happy Doodles for Fun & Relaxation,” speaks directly to her personality. She tells us on her website how she got that way: a creative upbringing in Taipei, Taiwan, which led to an MFA in graphic design in California. Mom and Dad were both teachers, who schooled her in the arts and a way to make a living. She has made her passion her day-job since 2001, when she ventured to Kansas to be a full-time designer/illustrator for Hallmark Cards. You'll always find her with a Sharpie and a sketchbook, but she took a moment to tell us a little more about herself:
KO: You were born in Taiwan; how did you end up in the States?
I applied to a few schools in both New York and San Fran, and I went to the first school that accepted my application. At that time I really didn't know what to expect, but I am so glad I went there. I love San Francisco.
KO: You mention being drawn to folk art. Were you influenced by moving to Kansas, or has that always been something that has appealed?
I've always been fascinated by folk art because it is so authentic and unpretentious. And, ever since I moved to the Midwest, I began visiting antique markets on a regular basis and have encountered even more amazing artifacts that way. I've found a lot of common themes and motifs in folk art from different ethnic backgrounds; it's very interesting to see people from different cultures expressing themselves in similar ways!
KO: How did you feel about working in a corporate environment, rather than simply as a designer/artist?
If it were any other corporate office, I probably wouldn't like it as much. But I love my company and I love my job; I've worked here for more than 14 years. It's a very creative environment, lots of artists around me to bounce ideas back and forth and to learn from. I am very lucky to land this job as soon as I graduated.
KO: Do you have kids? Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?
I don't have kids (yet). I love kids! I think they are so funny and full of surprising ideas. I have a soft spot for them in my heart, especially the very little ones. I love collecting children's books and draw a lot of inspiration from them. I also feel like I am still a kid myself, and that helps, too.
KO: What do you think about the explosion of adult coloring books? Do you think the trend will last?
I personally think it is here to stay. I don't see a reason why this activity would go away any time soon. Kids still do coloring even though there are so many fun toys for them to pick and choose nowadays, right? It's a simple activity that suits everybody, and it's not expensive. It relaxes people when they color, because they are totally focused on that moment. The coloring page you choose can be as simple or as complicated as you wish, it offers something for everyone.
KO: What do you hear from your fans about the book?
I love when a reader wrote me a message telling me how much she enjoys coloring my book, and I especially appreciate when people, in their online reviews, mentioning my book being their favorite coloring book and how different it is from other books on the market. Also, through sharing my finished pages and coloring techniques (yes, I do color my own book), I've made some friends via social media, too.
KO: How do you approach aging?
I am 40; aging, as far as myself is concerned, doesn't bother me as much--I have LOTS of grey hairs and I don't color them. What bothers me more is when I think about losing my loved ones someday, especially when they live so far away from me. I am lucky; all my grandparents and my parents are still here, but I know I will have to face that day eventually, sooner or later. I am religious, so meditating on God's promises and prayers definitely help me a lot.
KO: Do you have any advice for our Konenkii friends about aging fearlessly?
Do more things that are enjoyable to you, whether it's coloring, gardening, knitting, or reading. Go take some classes and learn a few new skills. Take care of your mind and your soul. Make friends and interact with people. Show kindness toward others and toward yourself. Take a walk every day if you can.