[ November 3rd, 2009 ]
Jing Jing Tsong's work is a whimsical mix of color and texture. She has
worked with a wide range of clients including McDonald's, Crayola,
Anheuser Busch and publications such as The Wall Street Journal Asia,
Spirituality and Health and Honolulu Magazines. Her work has been
recognized in the Print Regional Design annual, How Self Promotion
annual and the Fresh section of Communication Arts. She and her husband
illustrator Michael Austin have their international headquarters in
When did you decide you would become an illustrator?
As a kid, I adored the work of Lois Lenski, Ezra Jack Keats and
Maurice Sendak. I drew pictures all the time, but never thought of it as a profession. I worked as a graphic designer and partnered in a boutique design studio with my husband Michael Austin. We would always incorporate our doodles into our design as much as possible. Then we realized that the doodling part was the
most fun. So it gradually evolved from there.
What do you love about illustration the most?
WOW, there's so much about it I love! I love the story telling part about it, I love the playing with color part of it, I love opening up a magazine and telling our kids, "I did this!."
Is your work silk screened or digital?
Actually, all my work is created digitally. I've had experience with traditional stone lithography, so I think in layers of texture and color. I work in Illustrator then deliver all final files as composited .jpgs. The funny thing is that I recently took a monoprint class
and was completely intimidated by the level of commitment it takes to your concept and color. Working digitally has completely spoiled me, nothing is ever concrete, you can change your mind whenever you want!
How would you describe your color palette?
A friend joked that I am an eternal "Cloud of Optimism" on Pessimism. My colorful palette reflects how I feel :).
Tell us about being married to another illustrator, do you both inspire each other?
Michael and I love to talk about process and concepts. Most of these conversations take place on our daily drive to go surfing. After some good waves, we both retreat to our separate studios-then we usually don't see each other until the end of the day. Unless I catch him in my studio trying to steal art supplies!
What are the advantages of working in Hawaii? Are there any negatives?
Hawaii is an eclectic cultural melting pot. Predominantly, western and Asian influences-where else do people eat sushi and potato salad on the same plate?! I love the crazy mix, it's an every day feast for the senses. Because I am touch with both cultures,
I've had the chance to work on some great assignments targeted towards Asian audiences. On the other hand, I miss the comradery and support of fellow creatives on the mainland, especially the women's group of illustrators in Denver. We had a great time sharing experiences, going to galleries together and drinking wine!
What motivates you every day?
A handful of chocolate in my Kona coffee!
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