There’s something about Winnie Wong that would intimidate the hell out of just about anyone. She carries herself with an air of nonchalance and grace, sporting a poker face that would make you think that she’d rather be somewhere else, but once you get to sit down with her, you’d learn quickly that all these presumptions are wrong. Underneath her hard exterior is an artist who knows the value of hard work. An artist who understands that creativity comes with privilege.
In this month’s OG Advice, we talked to the newest Samsung ambassador about what it’s like to juggle multiple jobs, the role of privilege in the life of artists, and the importance of tactful communication.
Young STAR: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Winnie Wong: I’ve always enjoyed art, but I wouldn’t say that it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I never liked claiming what I wanted to do in the future. For me, as I’ve grown older, I realized that it’s not just about finding a particular thing to do, but being open to mixing the skills that you’ve learned, and learning how to adapt to different types of roles.
You’re a mulit-faceted artist who does graphic design, videography, and even teaching. On top of that, you also have an NGO.
Winnie: To me, it’s all about being able to put things into boxes. If I’m working on my NGO, I put on my NGO hat. When I take that off, I have to focus on my art side, and my creativity. But now, I’m more able to transfer what I learn and know from the NGO to being an artist. I take a lot of skills that I learned from one part of my life to another.
How do you handle burnout?
Winnie: I have those moments where I actually breakdown and start crying. I like to do a lot of things and I like to manage a lot of projects. It’s something that I enjoy doing. But when it gets too much, I start crying. I think that’s how I manage it. Just letting my feelings out and letting my emotions out. For me it’s all about keeping a level-head and crying it out when I need to.
What’s some advice that you want to give to young artists who are afraid of venturing into the arts ?
Winne: Art is a privilege. Creativity comes with a privilege. When you are in the art industry, you have to have some sort of privilege — you need to be comfortable. If you’re suffering, you’re not gonna be able to come up with the best ideas. A lot of people think, ”I need to be a starving artist and eventually I’m going to become a celebrity.” Yes, you can start from the bottom, but you don’t need to put yourself through hell to start from the bottom. I acknowledge the fact that I come from a privileged family, and they supported me a lot. A lot of people miss out on that idea — that a lot of artists come from privilege. That’s the way of life, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they want to do. My parents cut me off right after college, and I really needed to earn. So I needed to find a job that would help me live the life that I want. I focused on my creativity after that, and that’s when I came up with better ideas.
What’s one mistake you made that you made that taught you a valuable lesson?
Winnie: One thing that’s pretty recent, is really about my honesty. It’s hard for me to fake my interactions with people. I’m very introverted. I’m very quiet. I can’t just suddenly be bubbly in front of other people. It’s just the way that I am, and I used to use that as an excuse. I used to always say that I’m just being honest, and I learned that it can be very dangerous. People take opinions differently, and I learned that I needed to adjust. Not everyone is gonna be able to handle the same opinions the same way. I burned a lot of bridges because I didn’t know how to communicate well, and I learned from that experience that I needed to be able to communicate with tact, while still being honest.
What’s one life motto that you live by?
Winnie: Grit and perseverance. Put yourself out there, make mistakes, and learn from them. If you just stay safe, you’re not gonna evolve.