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Monica Choi Enlivens and Uplifts with Earthy Original Illustrations

By Jillian Mitchell

Monica Choi has been sketching and drawing since she could hold a pencil. With a lot of practice, perspective, and encouragement from others, she overcame intimidation and financial uncertainty to pursue a career in illustrating. Now, she enjoys sharing her love of art by creating editorial and custom illustrations, prints, logos, and stickers.

Her distinctive creations are lively, optimistic, and filled with plants, skin-tones, and neutral colors.

Take a look at Monica’s process, motivations, and life as an artist:

What is the best part of creating?

It gives visual life to the ideas in my head and presents what I’m learning in a way that might resonate with others.

How do you stay inspired and avoid creative ruts?

I remind myself that my identity is beyond being an illustrator. Creativity is most motivating when I’m genuinely enjoying the people and things around me. As a result, I’m compelled to illustrate the beauty that captivates me. 

Creative ruts happen when I’m trying to get something done because I feel rushed to post, I haven’t posted recently, or I’m worried about followers. So, I try my best to illustrate out of love for the beauty in life, not out of fear or trying to pump out lots of work. 

“I’m compelled to illustrate the beauty that captivates me.”

Favorite song(s) for boosting creativity?

This question is so hard! It constantly changes. Currently, I’m listening to Eloise, Alicia Keys, Ella Fitzgerald, and Madison Cunningham.

How does creativity bring goodness to your life?

Creativity has connected me with people from everywhere through various platforms of sharing and selling work. I’ve been able to share my thoughts and art with other creatives who’ve added their ideas and comments in an ongoing conversation. That has been so wonderful. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A fashion designer!

What do people NOT know about what you do?

Tons of my illustrations are hidden, unfinished, or unpublished— especially early work, from when I began to pursue illustration. I either didn’t like how they looked, was too unmotivated to finish, or simply wasn’t satisfied with how they turned out. I want to keep them anyways. It’s nice (and funny) to see where I was in skill and style, and how that’s changed and improved. You don’t have to be great or skilled right off the bat— nobody is. You only need the courage to start.

Where do you go when you need a break?

I love cooking and trying out new recipes when I need a break from my screen.

Let’s be real, what’s the hardest or most frustrating thing about what you do?

Being self-motivated. Some weeks I’m illustrating every day, and others I don’t even touch a pencil. Life events and friends can take my attention. Sometimes it’s tiredness, laziness, or being unmotivated. 

Have you ever considered throwing in the towel? What stopped you?

Yes! I constantly compared myself and work to others, thinking, “I’ll never get to that skill, to that solid of a style, to that level of detail, etc…” I realized that my art should be just that: my own. Each artist should celebrate and be celebrated for the uniqueness and perspective they bring. Progress isn’t measured by comparing yourself to where others are but rather knowing where you are and where you wanna be.

“Each artist should celebrate and be celebrated for the uniqueness and perspective they bring.”

Favorite way to celebrate a job well done? 

With a margarita! I tried my first one not too long ago. They’re delicious! 

Check out Monica on Instagram at @mon.illustrates and browse her Etsy shop!

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Art, love, family, brunch, t-shirts, tacos or potted plants. Whatever you're using your gifts to create- we are here for it!

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