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Interview MIKHA M.
Date MAY 2021

JOCELYN TSAIH
      Human and artist Jocelyn Tsaih on breaking from the confining norms to pursue her passion while using art as an acknowledgment of universal thoughts, and emotions shared by us all.

Jocelyn was born in Taipei, Taiwan, but grew up in Shanghai, China where her family moved shortly after she was born. Breaking from the confining norms with a huge passion for art and the full support from her parents to pursue what she truly loves, Jocelyn moved to New York in 2011 to study Graphic Design at SVA. During her studies she was drawn to illustration and doodling – which led to the birth of her own visual signature that revolves around an “amorphous figure that’s meant to embody the spirit of beings as a whole.”

Jocelyn is today an established artist based in Oakland, California where she lives and works with renowned names like The New York Times, Apple, and Airbnb.

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“I’VE OBSERVED THAT LIFESTYLES AND MENTALITIES ARE LARGELY CONNECTED TO THE GEOGRAPHICAL ASPECTS OF A PLACE”

LFV: What challenges and learnings have you experienced in terms of living, and working in Oakland?

J: I’ve been living in the Bay Area for 3 years now and prior to this I lived in New York for 7 years. It’s been challenging to shift from having a fast-paced lifestyle to one that’s much slower. I’ve observed that lifestyles and mentalities are largely connected to the geographical aspects of a place and the way cities are laid out. As someone who enjoys working a lot, doing a lot, and seeing a lot, it’s been interesting to observe how I’m sometimes limited to my surroundings in the Bay Area due to how everything is so spread out.

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© Jocelyn Tsaih

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Oakland © Howie Mapson

Breaking from the confining norms amplifies creativity; how does your experience abroad and the new culture influences you, and your practice?

J: I lived in Shanghai for 16 years and attended the same school the entire time - an international school that was very academic and competitive. The concept of my own future was inevitably influenced by my achievements within those walls. I had a hard time picturing pursuing something different from the norm, and the norm was not related to art whatsoever. I’m really grateful that my parents allowed me to explore my interests and went out of their way to make sure I experienced environments where others shared similar views.

I got the chance to take summer programs and workshops in America during the summer. This set me on my path to pursuing a creative career. Experiencing this total change of mindset just by having a different experience outside of my usual comfort zone is something that has stayed with me. For this reason, I continue to challenge myself to be in unfamiliar environments or situations, ultimately creating learning experiences for myself that can broaden my work and my perspectives.

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NOM Office in LA © Jocelyn Tsaih

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Jocelyn in practice

The figures created by Jocelyn seem to be faceless and ambiguous at first sight, but in their totality, they take the form of a human, a soul, and a subconscious. While representing human experiences in an abstract way, the figures invite the viewers to engage in a dialogue with one-self and eventually evokes resonance with one’s emotions, thoughts, and relationships – something that Jocelyne aspire to convey through her practice.

“From the series All Around” © Jocelyn Tsaih

“I FIND THAT COMMUNITY PLAYS A HUGE PART IN FEELING LIKE I BELONG SOMEWHERE”

What gives you a deep sense of belonging?

J: I am still figuring out what belonging means to me. As someone who belongs to different cultures and homes, I find that the concept of belonging is somewhat hard to grasp. I find that community plays a huge part in feeling like I belong somewhere.

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The Atlantic: The Dark Side of Light © Jocelyn Tsaih

What does home mean to you?  

J: I have strong attachments to all my homes, past and present because they have all contributed to who I am today. Home is any place that has impacted my life through the time I’ve spent there, its community, and its culture.

What advice would you give to someone moving abroad?

J: Put yourself out there! Reach out to others who you feel like you could learn from or relate to. Attend events that you’re interested in. Explore your new surroundings and stay open to new experiences.

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Jocelyn Tsaih is a Taiwan-born, Shanghai-raised artist currently based in Oakland, California. Her work is a reflection on identity, human nature, and the intangible aspects of life. Though she works in various mediums, the recurring theme throughout her work involves an amorphous figure that’s meant to embody the spirit of beings as a whole.

Visit Jocelyn's site to see her work or Instagram to keep up with new updates.

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