Annie Chen Talks About Her Artistic Journey, Following Your Voice, And Travel Essentials

I first met Annie Chen at the 2016 Surtex Show in NY.  I stopped at her booth and was drawn in by the unique palettes that she used for her all over prints.  Her prints are like candy, with an almost retro feel. I was so excited to reconnect with her when we decided to launch a limited set of journals for all you travel junkies.  We started with iconic landmarks and items from Paris, London, and New York City, hope you enjoy!

Annie Chen from Lemonni

Here is an introduction to our amazing artist, Annie Chen from Lemonni.  She was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada when she was 15. Currently, Annie lives in Vancouver with her husband, a senior bunny, and a rescued puppy.

First, tell us a little bit how you became an artist!

My journey of becoming an artist is a windy one. I studied biochemistry and psychology in my university years. Upon graduating, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I did a working holiday in London, where I later realized that I’m interested in design. After I returned from London, I got a master degree in publishing. I was hoping to design books or magazines after I graduated, but nobody wanted to hire someone like me who didn't have an art degree. So I started to freelance, taking on any projects that I could get. At that time, I became especially fond of pattern design, but I just didn’t know how to turn that into a career. I managed to launch a home textile collection with my own designs, but I wasn’t in love with the production part. It wasn’t until 2015 that I found out about the surface design industry and Surtex, a trade show where artists and art buyers come together. I took a leap of faith and did my first Surtex show in the same year. Since then, I have been designing prints and patterns and I think I’ve finally found my calling!

What do you love about being an artist?  

I love the freedom of it. It’s certainly not a stable “job” but I get to decide how I’m going to spend the day, where I’m going to work on my project, or when I’m going to take a vacation, etc. I also love that every day is different for me so that I don’t get bored easily. Being a creative means that I get to create something that belongs to me. It’s a pretty cool feeling to be your own boss.

New York City Travel Print

How would you describe your artistic style?

Some have told me that my style looks Japanese, and some said that it has a 60s/70s feel to it. I guess that’s because I used to collect Japanese paper and packaging as a kid, and I love to use muted colours in my artwork.

London Travel Print

What was your inspiration behind this set of 3 prints that you developed for our new Kaleido journals?

I'm very lucky that I've been to all three cities multiple times, so the prints are based on my actual experience and things that I think are iconic to each city.  It was fun for me to refresh my travel memories!

Paris Travel Print

As an independent artist & entrepreneur, how do you continue to push yourself and innovate?

I think it’s important to show your work and put it out there. For me, I have been exhibiting at trade shows for 4 years in a row now. I’ve pushed myself to create more work for every show. It’s also important to connect with others in your own community. I recently joined an artists’ group where we can discuss business and inspire each other. Lastly, follow your own voice. it’s really easy to fall into a trap of envying someone else’s accomplishment and wishing you could be the same. But that won’t get you anywhere. I think it's way more meaningful to just keep creating and keep investing in yourself, and be proactive in pursuing business opportunities.

Are there any particular apps or tools that help you stay organized?

I only started to use Asana recently to keep track of my licensing contracts and licensed artwork. I’m pretty old school otherwise – just a planner .

What are some of your must-have travel essentials that you would carry in your Kaleido pouches?

My luggage didn’t arrive with me at the same time during my last trip, so I’ve learned my lesson!  I would pack essentials like my tooth brush, tooth paste, cleansing wipes, basic skincare and BB cream in there.

What places are on your list to travel to next?

Lisbon and Scandinavia.

Backpack or tote?


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