“I’ve always been like — how hard could it be?”

Stickers, dust jackets, foil prints. When you look through Oregon-based designer and illustrator Sheila Wong’s portfolio, you will find yourself looking at a plethora of works created through different mediums. A reflection of her curious and experimental mindset , learning and art have always been synonymous to Wong’s journey. Now, she owns a small business where she sells Asian and work culture-inspired stickers, prints, and more. She is also an active poster on TikTok, where she has gone viral a few times and has gained over 60,500 followers for her design tutorials  and her life as a self-employed artist. 

In this Creative Spotlight, EnVi talked with Sheila Wong over Zoom to discuss her culture and the community that is quintessential to her identity as an artist and business owner.

How Hard Can It Be?

Wong’s constant curiosity and just-do-it attitude are what makes her well-versed in multiple mediums and techniques.

“Any hobby that I take up, I’m just like ‘that actually doesn’t look hard.’ I think that mentality has helped me to work with a lot of different art styles,” said Wong. “I also just like learning new techniques and ideas.”

This traces back to Wong’s university years when the first iPad was just released. The event completely altered the world of graphic design, as well as Wong’s own expectations of what she originally thought she would be doing. 

“It really taught me to learn and adapt. When faced with technology, you can either run away or embrace it – this has definitely affected my own work ethic in my adult years,” said Wong.

Food, Art, and The Red Rice Cooker 

Growing up in an immigrant household in the Midwest, much of Wong’s works are rooted in her Cantonese culture and one of its important aspects: food. 

“My parents ran a small family-owned Chinese restaurant, so food was a really big part of our day to day life,” Wong explained. “Food is often where cultural immersion came through, whereas my life in school was more typically American.”

Her favorite piece of design currently in her store is a sticker of a red rice cooker — a direct homage to one that she bought 15 years ago from Target, when she first started living on her own in college. 

“I needed something to cook rice, and – oh, red’s a lucky color. My parents always told me that,” said Wong. After refilling tons and tons of bowls with steaming hot rice, the red rice cooker finally reached its retirement age two years ago when Wong and her husband bought a new house. 

“It was a sad, bittersweet moment for me because that rice cooker had traveled so far and had cooked tons of meals in the last decade,” said Wong. “I just love the thought of the journey it had taken, and the number of meals it had provided for.” 

This personal approach to design is also what makes Wong’s branding stand out as an Asian American artist that connects her to a community. 

“A lot of people have resonated with it as well. They often tell me their own stories with rice cookers and how they used it to boil water for ramen. It’s helped to bring a lot of amazing conversations,” said Wong. “I hope my pieces inspired by Chinese culture might inspire some childhood or food nostalgia.”

Sheila Wong
Rice Cooker – Color Art Print

Transitioning from Corporate to Small Business

Another half of her work takes inspiration from (and a fun poke at) corporate culture, specifically in technology. Working for a number of years in Silicon Valley tech startups in mobile game design, Wong described the culture as one that is filled with “office drudgery” and “mandatory fun” events. 

“For me, it’s a very sarcastic and snarky view of it. I like to make designs that help other people who have experienced similar experiences working in similar workplaces,” said Wong. “It helps to poke fun and make long days at work a little bit easier.”

Sheila Wong
Per My Last Email – Holographic Glossy Sticker
Sheila Wong
This Meeting Should Have Been An Email – Holographic Glossy sticker

Eventually, Wong wanted to try something new. 

“It was a difficult time in my life. It was so mind numbing — they would have us do whole campaigns then scrap it,”  Wong recalled. 

Wong had already been drawing on her iPad during lunch breaks. After her contract expired in 2018, Wong bought a silhouette cutter and began making stickers with those designs she had managed to sneak between her then overwhelming schedule. From selling the stickers on Etsy to moving to local conventions as a freelance designer, Wong’s following started to grow when she hopped onto TikTok and Instagram with video content. 

Even after plenty of professional experiences and a confidence in her abilities to balance work with art, Wong was still surprised by the many challenges that came with running her own business. 

“You’re doing everything by yourself — taxes, advertising, marketing. There will be some days where you don’t get to do the funnest part of this job at all,” said Wong. “That’s one thing I miss about a corporate job. They do all of these things for you.”

Settling Down

Now, after years of freelancing and having a relatively stable small business, Sheila Wong credited much of the support she has received from fellow artists when first starting a Facebook group called “Artists Alley Network International.” 

She has also found a community called Jellycup Collective — Portland’s first Asian American entrepreneurial art collective — after moving to Oregon.

“We’re often an underrepresented demographic. I really enjoy helping promote and elevate other fellow creatives like me — I’m all for stuff like that,” said Wong. She had first met and become friends with them through markets in Oregon. 

Wong currently has an active social media presence on TikTok and Instagram where she uploads tutorials and small-business tips. Wong hopes to table at Legendary Maker’s Market — an Asian American Night Market — this November in Portland, Oregon.


Replying to @herhazeleyes.studio putting together what i’ve learned about adobe illustrator’s pattern brush into a finished piece! 🐍🐍#vectorart #arttok #tiktoktaughtme #foilart #adobeillustrator @Adobe

♬ Super Freaky Girl – Nicki Minaj

Support Sheila Wong through her official website!

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