Illustrations Inspired by Stillness

Jing Jing Tsong is a successful illustrator who creates alluring and fantastic scenes of nature, animals and dreams. We asked her about her process.

How did you get to where you are now?
It was anything but a linear progression. There are decisions I made for my personal well-being that seemed crazy at the time ( like leaving Silicon Valley for the Rocky Mountains, or leaving the Rocky Mountains for Hawaii). In retrospect it all makes sense—taking care of my well-being feeds my creativity.

How would you describe your work?
A constant exploration of things that inspire me. Since inspirations change daily, you can see my work changing constantly.
The one constant is imperfection. I love imperfection. Perfection is boring.

Who else’s work has influenced or inspired your work?
Way too many to list. But lately, Pablo Neruda’s poems about the ocean. He paints a picture of time, space and connection to the universe that really move me. I’ve been working on a series of images based on his poem, “It is Born.”

Can you tell us about your creative process?
I am lucky that I’ve always had a partner in adventure, my husband Mike Austin. He’s also an illustrator/writer. Walking our dog, Prudence is when the best ideas evolve. That’s when we both emerge from our individual studios (my studio is the dining room) and bounce ideas off each other. We have a rule that nothing is “stupid”. We play around with concepts, words, throw out random connections that eventually create a path leading us to the elusive, “something”. Sometimes it’s enough to get confirmation from someone you trust, that you are heading in the right direction. I’m also a big believer that silence is part of the creative process. Turn everything off. Sit. Listen.

What’s it like being a freelancer?
Alternately thrilling and terrifying. There’s a reason the saying “feast or famine” exists. But then I realize I’ve been doing this for the
past 23 years. It’s working out OK. 

What advice have you got for other freelancers?
Keep working between assignments. It’s a chance to experiment with concept, technique, brush-up on new technology. Don’t wait to be discovered, let people know what you are doing!

To see more of Jing Jing’s work, visit: jingjingtsong.com

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