Felicia Chiao, has recently dropped a new collab with Daniel Kwan who is best known for co-directing the standout film of 2022, ‘Everything Everywhere At Once’.
A24 has been producing some of the best films of the last decade, and now the unique film company has added another arm to their budding enterprises.
Books, and not just any books, kids’ books – okay, they have been producing some very fine screenplay books – but their newest book releases are really special.
In particular, the special edition of Star Child reprint and most recently, the phenomenal 24 Minutes to Bedtime, a 4-dimensional bedtime story by Daniel Kwan and Felicia Chiao, a gem of a book that embraces the chaos of bedtime.
Illustrated in warm tones, and written to sci-fi time travel perfection, (what else would you expect from Kwan?) 24 Minutes to Bedtime makes for an engaging, and fun read, prompting a world of imagination that inspires the nightly ritual of getting your kids to bed so that it feels less of a chore and something you shouldn’t take for granted. There are a couple of deeply moving illustrations at the back of the book, that depict a house changing over time, just to push the point.
Felicia Chiao has been drawing forever, and whilst her background is in industrial design, illustration is something that she lives and breathes, so it must have been a pleasant surprise when she started to share her work on Instagram and Tumblr gathered a lot of attention and earned her thousands of followers virtually overnight. This leads us to today, and now, she is one of the lucky few who get to live the dream, of doing what they love. Lucky for us. Because her work is beautiful, thoughtful, and delightfully imaginative.
Felicia took a moment away from her Copic markers, and what she refers to as ‘living the dream’ to chat about her process, and what she gets up to when she is not collaborating with authors to make their passion of writing children’s books a reality.
Happy: Hey Felicia, what are you up to today?
Felicia: I’m at my parents’ house for the holidays so I am enjoying hanging out and being fed for free. On the work side of things I am working on Patreon rewards and color proofing prints for an end-of-year limited edition release.
Happy: Tell us about where you live; what do you love/not love about where you live?
Felicia: I’ve been living in the Bay Area since 2016. I know this sounds lame, but the weather is honestly the best part along with the fantastic food options. It’s always around 60 and sunny and it really lifts my mood just going outside. I do not love the super high rent but I do love my apartment and my neighborhood so I guess it balances out.
Happy: Describe your average work day.
Felicia: Ever since I quit my job as an industrial designer, I have a rule of no alarms on a normal day. I wake up whenever I do (usually between 8-10am), make a cup of coffee (peppermint mochas are my current go-to), and either start drawing or answering emails. Then I have lunch (usually soup), take a 1-2 hour nap, and then continue to draw. I like to work out at the end of the workday to clear my head and then I’ll have dinner and call it a day unless I’m really excited about a drawing I’m working on.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Felicia: Honestly I think what I just described above is my ideal day. I’m living the dream, baby.
Happy: Tell us about your creative community.
Felicia: There isn’t much of a community in the Bay as far as I know, but I have been lucky enough to make friends with certain gallery communities as well as a handful of online artist friends. It’s helpful hearing their stories and watching their careers because I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going most of the time. I get a lot of support from my gallery friends which is comforting.
Happy: What did you read or watch growing up that fueled your passion for storytelling?
Felicia: I’m not sure I ever really focused on storytelling as a goal, I think it comes unintentionally and naturally for me. What really inspired me was colors, textures, and emotions I would feel from movies, songs, books, etc. Between bootleg Chinese DVDs of Cowboy Bebop and endless replays of My Chemical Romance CDs, I had a lot of emotions that turned into drawings.
Happy: What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?
Felicia: Not to sound corny, but working with Daniel Kwan has probably been the most inspiring thing for me this year. He gave me a lot of freedom on this book and watching him push for what he wanted creatively was very inspiring. Years of working a job at a consultancy had beaten me down a bit and I was only delivering what I thought other people wanted, not what I thought was best. This project has reminded me that my intuition is good and I should fight for what I think is the best I can deliver. This not only results in a better deliverable but also makes me enjoy the work more.
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Happy: What kind of things do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Felicia: Honestly I think I am always working. If I’m not physically drawing I am either thinking about the current piece or the next one, drafting out social media posts, communicating with galleries, etc. I do really enjoy cooking though, I make different soups every week and I love going to the grocery store. I’m a bit boring honestly.
Happy: Study or Self-taught?
Felicia: I don’t believe anyone is truly self-taught. Sure I was drawing without much guidance in my early years, but taking inspiration from other artists or getting material tips from friends counts as being taught, directly or indirectly, from others. I studied industrial design in college which also influenced my illustration style, so while I never studied illustration specifically, calling myself self-taught ignores all the help I’ve had along the way.
Happy: What makes you happy?
Felicia: My meds….just kidding, kind of. I think being able to do art for a living, meeting other wonderfully creative people, and just taking my own time in life has made me the happiest I have been in recent years.
24 Minutes to Bedtime is out now via A24.
Check out Felicia’s body of work via Patreon and Instagram:
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