“I want people to feel happy and stronger”: Chelsea Wong’s detailed works are filled with love and optimism

When artist Chelsea Wong was growing up, she was innately influenced by her parents: her mother was a graphic designer and her father a professor of political science, who’d teach classes on philosophy and Marxist theory at Evergreen State College. Both had a profound impact on the type of career that Chelsea would end up pursuing, which was assuredly artistic. “I was exposed to and understood the value and importance of art from a very young age,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in a family that encouraged creativity.”
When constructing her pieces, Chelsea always works off intuition. It’s a free-flowing process devoid of any preliminary sketches, and one that bounces between the use of watercolours and acrylics. And, although hailing from art school, she’d only taken a few painting classes so the methodology and craft of it all is very much self-taught. What’s more is that within her detailed scenes of various people and places, Chelsea makes sure to be inclusive. “As a figurative painter it’s important for me to include diversity in my paintings,” she says. “I grew up in a multi-racial and ethnically merged family. As a child, I didn’t see many Asian role models in the media.” Her niece and sisters are mixed Black and Japanese, so as an image-maker herself, she feels the need and responsibility to make sure that her niece, and people of all backgrounds, can see themselves in her art. “And to all the young women in the world who need positive reinforcement, I want them to know that I am thinking about them, that they are important and deserving of healthy and affirming representation in the media.”
As a result, Chelsea went on to study at Parsons School of Design in New York, before graduating with a BFA in Printmaking at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California. During this period in time, the budding artist dabbled between disciplines and muses, in turn creating an amalgamation of her key interests – that being fashion, political music and a sense of graphic design interwoven throughout her pieces. Yet despite these educational pursuits and a drive to study her craft, Chelsea simply creates art for the utmost joy of it. “I am inspired by what I see and how I feel,” she adds. “I chase my own happiness and paint what brings me joy.” This outlook is especially relevant now, wherein the artist (like many) has been enjoying the outdoors to a greater degree. Prior to this present day and pre-pandemic, her work was centred around travel and cities. Now, she’s been finding herself spending more time amongst nature and this has consequently altered her subject matter. “I try to remember the details of what I see, how a beautiful sunset reflects on the ocean, and the sense of warmth it brings me. This type of beauty makes me feel complete and I am inspired to share that with the world.”