Meet Artist Jocelyn Tsaih
Jocelyn Tsaih (@jocelyntsaih) is a Taipei-born, Shanghai-raised, and New York-based illustrator and animator. Her work is an exploration of duality, self-reflection, and sometimes eggs.
Interviewer Alexi Ueltzen (@alexi) is Ello’s Social Media & Email Manager. If she’s not at the office, she’s probably swimming, getting muddy with her dogs, or baking cookies. The best cookies.
Check out our current giveaway with Jocelyn – Leave a comment and you could win a print of "One."
You were born in Taipei, raised in Shanghai, and now live in New York. How have those different cultures influenced your work?
Being from multiple backgrounds, I’ve been interested in observing the differences and similarities between the cultures that I identify with. Some of my work deals with the internal conflicts that arise from feeling like I’m in between two places. I’m still figuring out how to further explore the idea of cultures in my work, but sometimes I feel like I’m in limbo, which I try to express in my drawings.
When did you develop your trademark human-alien beings that show up in so many of your illustrations?
I started drawing these figures around 4 years ago as an intuitive response to what was going on in my head. I wanted the figure to represent myself but I also wanted it to be universal, so I referenced the stick figure. The first drawing was just a really bad, blobby version of the stick figure. Somehow it evolved into the way it looks today.
You say your work “is an exploration of duality, self-reflection, and sometimes eggs.” Why eggs? (This from someone who truly loves eggs).
The eggs came a while after I started drawing my figures more. A lot of my drawings are very serious, so I started to find ways to have more fun with my work. I have always been obsessed with eggs (I’m glad you understand) and one day came up with some silly egg ideas that turned into GIFs. Every time I would finish one, I’d come up with a new idea. I created a series called Eggifs and threw them into a blog. Turns out I am not the only one obsessed with eggs! I’m glad I found a way to express and share my love for eggs.
Okay, now duality. Tell us a little bit about why you find duality so interesting and how it’s portrayed in your work?
I think it’s interesting how two things that contrast with one another are also harmonious - you can’t have one without the other even if they’re opposites. Like the concept of “good” wouldn’t exist without the concept of “bad”. Isn’t that mind-blowing?! Growing up in Shanghai, I saw that the city was filled with dualities. Locals and foreigners, old and new, and so on. Being surrounded by these things led me to think about dualities as a concept more.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you balance your day job with personal projects?
I try my best to work on personal projects whenever I get the chance. It comes in waves though - sometimes I’ll have a bunch of ideas and work up the energy to make things, but sometimes I’ll get really lazy and not want to do anything after my day job. I think it’s important to be productive but know when to recharge and zone out. If I don’t get the chance to zone out for a while and clear my head, I’m usually not as productive and don’t end up making anything I like.
Do your pieces speak to larger cultural themes or are they more personal than that?
Most of my work is somewhat abstract because I want to connect with people on a more personal level. I want to create work that is relatable, so a bit of my work ends up seeming vague or ambiguous on the surface. I like leaving some interpretation to the viewer even if I have specific ideas in mind.
Do you have any advice for artists today, with regards to sharing their work and engaging with an audience on social media?
It’s amazing that social media can help us get out work out there but I always remind myself not to get too caught up in the superficial things that come with it. It can be distracting to always think about who’s liking, seeing, following or unfollowing your work. Instead of focusing on those things, I like to use social media as a tool to connect not only with people who view my work but also with other artists. The more work you create and put out there, the more people will see it! Just make a mental note to not care too much about the other fluff.
Who are some of your favorite artists to follow on Ello?
@xoanah, @david_palma, @alexis_jamet
Are there any new mediums you want to try or crazy projects you’d like to tackle in the future?
I would love to try making some large-scale sculptures in the future. Other dream projects would be to do visuals for a concert or music event, artwork or branding for a bar, and to create furniture versions of my characters.
What are you doing when you’re not creating art?
Taking annoying pictures of my cats while they’re sleeping, watching Terrace House, going to music events, attempting to exercise.
What is something about you that would surprise our readers?
I hate salads! I don’t know if that’s surprising but I really, really hate salads.
You can follow Jocelyn on Ello, Instagram, Vimeo, and LInkedIn.