Today we’d like to introduce you to Rayna Lo.
Rayna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in Chicago, IL so I’m not as proficient in speaking/writing Chinese as I would like to be. I actually spoke more Taiwanese at home than Mandarin. Like the majority of the Asian kids I knew, we were forced to attend Chinese school on the weekends, sacrificing our precious cartoon watching time. It wasn’t until in my mid-20s that I really started to regret not taking Chinese school more seriously. I remember drawing as a kid so, in an effort to combine my love for art and practice Chinese, I bought some Chinese paintbrushes and rice paper and just started writing. I LOVED it! Felt like I was unlocking this untapped reservoir of cultural history and creativity in my brain. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to practice in such an old-school way. I mean, basic pen and paper would’ve sufficed too. Regardless, I’m glad I took a chance on trying something new. I’ve actually heard horror stories where students would be beaten if they didn’t hold the brush right. And that those experiences took the fun out of calligraphy. So, I’m glad that I was able to practice on my own terms without punishment. But that’s how it started. This was the first step of many towards an unexpected path of exploring other types of art. I delved into Western calligraphy and worked on some wedding calligraphy. I recently started illustrating and developed a character called Samurai Girl that has a sword most of the time. She’s the best representation of me. She’s drawn in so many styles. With brush pens, color pencils, watercolor. Sometimes she’s serious and sometimes she’s playful. It’s been really cool to see myself manifested in my own art. Feels like I’m finally able to fully express myself through my art.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s a road that feels like a dense forest and I’m trying to find my way through it. I remember wanting to do art as a kid but my parents wouldn’t support it. So, I studied science instead. I felt like I had to lock away my creativity for a while. I locked it away for so long that it wasn’t even a part of my identity. So, for the last few years, I feel like I’ve been trying to play catch up with my old self. I’m rediscovering myself as an artist. I’ve been working in the pharmaceutical industry for over a decade and I feel like I’m slowly building up the confidence to step away from that for a bit to focus on developing myself as an artist. The mental shift has been exhausting as I battle what I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life (corporate life) with what I feel like I was meant to do (artist).
Please tell us about RAYNA LO, LLC.
I teach Chinese calligraphy workshops. I am also commissioned to make custom artwork that integrates calligraphy and illustration. I am most proud of the custom work I do. It really sets me apart from others and I can guarantee there’s no other artwork like it–they are as unique as the subjects. I’m most proud of a Chinese/Farsi piece that I did which means happy in both Chinese and Farsi. The end strokes of the Chinese characters start the beginning strokes of Farsi in a seamless transition that symbolizes their union. It also cannot be broken. My company is still in its infancy but I’m so excited to grow it once I go full time. I can’t wait to see what I’ll create!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Eating at my family Chinese restaurant in Chicago. We’ve had it for 30 years now. I literally grew up in this place. One of the best memories is my dad teaching me how to make dumplings. They weren’t that pretty to serve to the customers.
- Website: www.raynalo.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @rayna.lo
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/raynaloart