Hi. My name is Mimi Chao and this is my personal/professional blog. I freelance in illustration design (story and character creation, children’s books, surface pattern design, commissioned drawings, etc.) and also have my own characters and products over at mimochai.com.
I have always loved drawing but you could say I took the long route to my current station. As with many children of Asian immigrants, my well-meaning parents discouraged me from pursuing art seriously. So I started my career in law. I went to UCLAw and worked as a corporate attorney at a big law firm for four years. While I will always be grateful for the experience, I came to terms with the fact that for me, the nice office and salary didn’t make up for lack of passion and purpose. I also realized being in a positive, creative environment was very important to me as a person.
When I finally made the daunting decision to do something about it, I started with a foray into strategy and management at a digital design studio. There I became familiar with the world of graphic design, FE/BE development, branding, marketing, analytics, etc., which continues to be very helpful. At the same time, I was unexpectedly growing my reputation in illustration and in March 2015 decided to take an even bigger leap of faith to enter the world of freelance and indie makers.
That’s where I am now, and I love it. It’s strange to think that growing up, I didn’t even know there was such a career as “freelance illustrator.” But drawing and telling stories that matter has always been my dream. For a long time I just thought it was a pipe dream. People often ask, “Do ever you regret it? Either going into law or leaving law?” And the honest answer is no, never. Looking back, each step has led me to where I am today, even if it didn’t look like it at the time.
It’s a scary but exciting time. In some senses I’ve come a long way, but I still have a very long way to go. I hope to document some of my thoughts, inspirations and learnings on this blog. I’ll try to not just focus on the success and joys but also the fear and failures. I’ve found hearing other people’s experiences to be such a source of inspiration and reality checks, so hope to pay it forward as best as I can.
I also just want a place to share some of my interests. Sharing into the abyss has always been a part of me—I had a Xanga way back when! I love contemporary art and all sorts of design, from graphic to architectural to industrial. I’m also very interested in travel, nature, technology, animation, geek culture, books and philosophy. Oh, and DTLA. I love my home, DTLA 🙂
Side note: I realized this all comes off as rather heavy. Let’s just also acknowledge that I also draw comic donuts, use emojis in almost every communication, and often respond to humans with animal squeaks.
You can find me on Instagram @mimochai.