I love staring at her computer screen as she breathes life into her imagination on Photoshop.
I love watching her carry her heavy Profoto B1 off-camera flash for the perfect lighting.
I love listening to her passionately talk a mile a minute, of course, all on photography.
Pa Chia Xiong is a 26-year-old professional graphic designer & photographer currently based in Minneapolis, MN who became interested in visual arts when she discovered Soompi.com, a website focused on K-pop music & celebrity culture, and where Pa Chia turned fan-fiction stories into reality through her own graphic designs.
She was only 14 years old.
The following year, Pa Chia was hired for her first graphic design project.
Since then, she’s gone on to study graphic design at the world-renown Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, CA. She's worked in the LA fashion industry, designed her own apparel, and created graphic artwork for many Hmong American artists including filmmaker Moua Lee, The Kong & Shu Project, and yours truly.
Pa Chia makes me a better artist.
Through her work, she inspires me to always give my best in any situation. She empowers me to keep learning even after earning a degree. She teaches me to never take life too seriously.
And that if you’re gonna eat, you better eat good. She can turn a pack of dry ramen into gourmet noodle heaven.
She's so cool.
So, sit back. Relax. And get ready to be inspired.
PAGNIA: Hi, Pa Chia! Working with you since my first album, I know how passionate you are with the work that you do. Where does that passion come from? Why do you do what you do as a visual artist?
PA CHIA: Hiiiiii. Thank you for having me. Honestly, I don’t know where the passion comes from. I just know that within me, there’s a power, an energy source that wants me to make the world beautiful, joyful, and filled with my desires. I just love presenting things in their best forms. I do what I do because it makes me happy. I’d rather be happy, active, on the run, then grumpy on the sofa. :P
PG: With you, I always know I’m in good hands because of how knowledgeable you are in your craft. How did you get to this point? What are some tips you have for those who are still trying to become an expert in their own craft?
PC: I don’t think I'm an expert of my own craft at all.
But to answer your question, I take my craftsmanship seriously. In my teens, I felt like I jumped into being an adult and that just stuck with me. Even going to college, being mature, making deadlines, learning the principles and materials, and researching all day and night, I was very focused on building my skills. I believe that you reap what you sow and I wanted the best so I sought for the best.
Also, I study, research, and learn what I want to know. There’s still so much to learn! That means I don’t limit myself to just one craft like graphic design, for example. I like to learn multiple art disciplines.
I’m also a true believer of creating your own world; that’s what I’ve been doing. Whatever you create is made to be shared. I created artwork that I wanted on my walls. I created pieces of fashion that I would wear and want others to sport. I captured photographs of what I wanted the mass to see. I controlled what I wanted to project. I think that’s how I ended up doing what I do.
My tips for artists what want to become an expert in their craft is to practice, know all the ins and outs, and share your work. Another big tip is to follow artists you adore. Talk with them, follow them on social media, find out what they use in their behind-the-scenes. You’re following them because you want to get to their level. You’ll start to see what they see and think how they think. However, always be YOU, be SMART and be ORIGINAL.
PG: Being an artist is not the most traditional route for most Hmong Americans. What’s a challenge you’ve faced due to that social norm? How did you overcome it?
PC: I think most Hmong Americans artists were or are afraid of what parents will think and say about their career choices and that was one of the issues I faced.
I actually gave my parents a double heart attack when I wanted to pursue my art career. Not only was I going into art school, of which they didn’t know anything about, I wanted to move to the heart of LA.
The fear was definitely there when I was 17, trying to get accepted, but I wanted it so bad, I made it happen. I got accepted and I went in the following fall. I was very determined in my career choice.
You must realize that you have ONE LIFE and you control that life. I wasn’t fearful of my parents saying “NO” to me. I WANTED IT SOOO BADDDDDD; I was going to go either way. I just needed them to be aware of what I wanted and for them to support me in my choice. After I told them, I was fearless.
I’m pretty sure my mom and dad likes what I do for a living now. They ask me to take pictures all the time. :P
PG: Haha! So if you could be an apprentice to any other artist in the world, who would it be? And why?
PC: This is a hard one but I would say, Miss Aniela. She does everything I would do in my lifetime - production & fine art photography.
PG: Nice. What's your favorite piece of work you’ve ever created? And why?
PC: My favorite piece of work ever was when I designed fanfiction posters for Soompi.com. I don’t have copies anymore but that was when I was more free and didn’t know the rules to designing. I designed 4-5 posters, a ton of web banners and whatever was requested for free in a day or so. I loved doing it and that was where my passion for graphic design bloomed.
PG: Ahhh, the spirit of creating freely. Love it! So, are you currently working on anything?
PC: Yes, two projects to be exact.
First, my newly released Hmong Xauv Tops for men and women! It took me over a year to manifest this project. I’m so proud of it because it’s what I’ve been wanting for so long. It’s urban tops at its finest and it’s finally happening!
I’m releasing the tops at the J4 Hmong Sports Tournament in St. Paul, MN.
And pre-orders are available now at www.pachiaaa.com/shop. Due to the limited amount I’ll have, I highly urge pre-ordering.
AND exclusively for your fans, I have a special promo code for all pre-orders of the Hmong Xauv Tops. When they pre-order on or before May 29, 2016 and enter the promo code: PAGNIASFANSROCK, they’ll receive free early shipping, which means free shipping before it's released during the J4 weekend.
My second project is with YOU, Pagnia! I can’t say much about this project, but I’m currently color grading the photographs. For sure, your fans will be in for a surprise. I’m very excited to share the album artwork soon too!
PG: Same here! And thank you for the special promo code. Now, what can we expect from you in the future? And where can we find you online?
PC: In the near future, I plan to travel, so you’ll see more travel photography and breaktaking landscape shots from me. But have no fear, I always have tricks up my sleeves! :)
And you can connect with me here:
PG: Thank you so much for your time and most importantly, for reminding me what passion looks and feels like as an artist. I truly enjoy working with you, and seeing what you create in all your projects, including my own. Your future's so bright, and I’m so excited for you!
PC: Thank you for having me, Pagnia!
NOW, IT'S YOUR TURN! Were you inspired by Pa Chia? What did you take away from this interview? Leave your comments below as I love hearing from you (and yes, I do read 'em)!
Until next time…