Illustrator Felicia Chiao balances out her work as an industrial designer at IDEO with imaginative drawings rendered in copic marker and gel ink pens. Chiao’s fanciful worlds are populated with a repeating humanoid protagonist, as well as spirit-like black figures reminiscent of the symbolic creatures in Hayao Miyazaki films. The artist balances her charming aesthetic—cheerful details like daisies and friendly worms—with more evocative emotional themes. “Illustration has always been a way for me to destress and work through whatever emotions I’m feeling,” says Chiao.

However, despite the visual representation of complex narratives, “I cannot stress how little I think about what goes into my drawings. I draw because I love doing it and most of the themes people have seen emerge have largely been subconscious,” Chiao tells Colossal. She explains that “there was never really an intention for my drawings to get this much attention. It’s flattering and alarming at the same time, but I’m glad that so many people can relate to work that I have made so selfishly for myself.”

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 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.”

Chiao makes her illustrations available as prints on Society6, and recently released a limited edition of “Rooms” (shown above) with Static Medium. You can follow along with her illustrated adventures on Instagram.

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