Creator Spotlight: Illustrator Felicia Chiao

On a scale of one to ten, how is social distancing for you right now? Art by Felicia Chiao​
On a scale of one to 12, how is social distancing for you right now? Art by Felicia Chiao

Felicia Chiao is an industrial designer, illustrator, and toy maker who is now also designing for the food industry, whose eye catching imagery is resonating with the mood of many currently in lockdown around the globe… although the circulated work was created long before the Coronavirus Pandemic.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Chiao describes herself as an “industrial designer by day an illustrator by night”, balancing out her work as an industrial designer at IDEO with imaginative drawings rendered in copic marker and gel ink pens.

Art by Felicia Chiao

An avid sketchbook enthusiast, Chiao has always had a love for trivial objects that inspire happiness, and strives to emulate that sense of simple joy in her work. Her experience ranges from drawing and concept design to woodworking and fine arts, giving her work variety in materials as well as approach.

Art by Felicia Chiao
Art by Felicia Chiao

Despite the differences between these skills, her work has a common thread: to make people happy.

Posting her amazing imagery on Instagram and Tumblr, Chiao says she always loved drawing as a child, but didn’t actually get serious about art until high school.

“At first, I was just doodling on my homework and in my notebooks in my spare time,” she revealed in an item for the IDEO web site, “but by my senior year I thought it would be cool to set a deadline, and complete a sketchbook front to back in one year. It was a good outlet for my stressed and angsty teenage self. The first one took a while – definitely more than a year – but after completing it, I was hooked.

“In a way, these notebooks act as a diary for me,” she continues. “I remember where I was mentally and emotionally for each drawing. Over time, my work has become a lot less about how angry I was that day, and more about colors, patterns, and shapes.”

Art by Felicia Chiao

Central to some of her art is a bald, baby-like thing Chiao created to represent a person or a feeling she was having.

“A lot of people have told me they can relate to my work, and I think it’s because of that character,” she notes. “It has no real defining features other than looking vaguely human, so a lot of people can put themselves in its shoes.

“I often get asked if it’s a boy or a girl or this or that, but it really doesn’t matter what it is.

Illustration remains a side project for Chiao, a counterpoint to her professional life that she began in earnest while in college for industrial design. “It’s great having both,” she told the This Is Colossal web site, “because I find that design work is about solving problems for others while illustration can be completely selfish and about me. It creates a good balance.”

“I like to draw simple lines and shapes, and for each composition, I typically just wing it,” she has also said of her approach to drawing. “I’m sure there’s a meaning to whatever I’m drawing, but when I’m working on it, I’m actually not thinking too hard about it. It’s all stream of consciousness. I draw to de-stress and because it’s fun.”

We could all take from that attitude right now, but I very much doubt – my doodling would be as impressive as Felicia’s!

Art by Felicia Chiao


Felicia Chiao on Tumblr | Instagram | Buy Prints on Society 6 | Behance

Books and prints of Felicia’s work are also available from Static Medium (books currently sold out)

Where’s My Moleskine: Felicia Chiao

Felicia Chiao on Advanced CAD

With thanks to Wamberto Nicomedes for drawing my attention to Felicia’s work

Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Features, Other Worlds

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