in partnership
(Image: Jing Jing Tsong)

Artist of the Week: Jing Jing Tsong

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Jing Jing Tsong: Although neither of my parents are professional artists, I watched them create constantly. Whether it was painting, drawing, sculpting, sewing or textiles, I loved watching and participating. So creating has been part of my life ever since I can remember. Now, my illustration work is a mash-up of traditional drawing and printmaking techniques and digital collage.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I start brainstorming by writing words and phrases. Once I arrive at ideas I'm excited about; I begin sketching and thinking about the textures and patterns I will use.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration comes from basically everything (books, music, art, architecture, design, friends). I'm really lucky to have an active dialogue with my two younger sisters (also artists/writers) about the creative process and things that have caught our attention.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
The theme of "Connection" is the common thread in all my work. How are we connected to our environment, to our community, to our family and to our histories?

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
The pieces of art that are most meaningful to me are paintings and drawings from our daughter and son's childhoods. They remind me to look at the world anew and that the passion and honesty with which we create is much more powerful than trying to make something technically "perfect."

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I grew up in a small town, where people constantly reminded me that I wasn't from there. That experience shapes everything I do. I think that's why the idea of connection is so interesting to me. I believe we can not separate our lives from one another without hurting people. I want to create images that reflect that world I want to live in — a world where we celebrate the many intersections of different experiences.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
You can find my picture books at Third Place Books and University Bookstore. The sale date hasn't been announced yet, but later this year, you'll be able to buy my work in the form of the United States Postal Service Hanukkah 2020 Forever stamp. In March 2021, I have a new picture book with Lee & Low (written by Andrea Zimmerman) called "If I Were a Tree" coming out.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I'm really excited about working on a couple books where I am both the writer and illustrator. Can't announce anything yet, but soon, I hope.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I take my coffee with a dash of milk and a handful of chocolate chips.