Esther + Olivia, SAD Asian Girls
Chary discovered SAD Asian Girl Club via Huffington Post. Intrigued by the headline, she read the article and understood the strong messaging. The YouTube Video nailed nailed common experiences that every Asian American women has dealt with in her upbringing. We are so thrilled to feature Esther and Olivia, total #GIRLBOSSes as today's Spotlight!
1. What did you both want to be when you were growing up?
Olivia: I was born in New York and raised in Atlanta. In my early years, my mother and I would spend our days taking portraits and going shopping in the city. I grew up with a huge appreciation for clothes and aesthetics. I always thought I would go into the fashion world but quickly lost interest once I was exposed to the business of fashion. The romance of fashion was shattered for me. I think through graphic design, I’ve been able to restore the energy and passion. My parents are huge supporters of my practice though they may be the only supporters back in my home town. It’s always tough for any art student to explain their reasoning in fulfilling an “unconventional” degree and then on top of that, communicating that to an East Asian community adds another layer of complexities.
Esther: I think I really just wanted to be a cool punk-goth type of person who does art/is a famous star and has no responsibilities but somehow navigates the world in such a way that money is never an issue (like in the movies, clearly). I don’t think I ever really thought about a particular field I wanted to be in as a kid, but I knew it’d be art-related since I drew a LOT (more than I made friends). I’ve had a couple of phases growing up, and I think I’ve decided on queer alt femme activist artist.
2 . You founded Sad Asian Girl Club. What inspired you to make the jump on this project?
“Have You Eaten?” was fueled by tensions we were having with our immigrant mothers and the generation/culture gaps that come with raising an Asian kid in a Western society. After receiving a great response from the video, we felt encouraged and compelled to continue making work together that was based on our personal experiences as East-Asian femmes in western environments.
3. Why Sad?
We wanted to give agency to the word “sad,” which often seems to be a sign of weakness, pity, or desperation/attention-grabbing. Our intentions were to give validity to our “sadness” (frustrations that come from being a third culture kid) and also to encourage a proactive attitude through our work.
4. How do you differentiate your site as well as getting your deeper message across?
We think that the reason SAG worked was largely because of the unapologetic visual language that we used in our branding. Another component that helped us in our work was utilizing social media to our advantage and getting our work into existing online communities that would help publicize our work to our target audience.
Our aim has been to be as direct as possible in the messages in our projects. We are always put more concern and energy into communicating our rhetoric in a way that can be easily consumed, as opposed to more poetic and perhaps vague methods.
5. Women are faced with so many hardships in the creative worlds and entrepreneurship. What is your best advice to Asian women who are too afraid to break into these industries because they aren't the stereotypical "norm" ?
We are most creative and unique when we have passion for whatever we are doing. Asians are the largest growing minority group in America. With that said, it’s important to ask ourselves some questions: As leaders and influencers, what kind of tone do we want to set for our generation? Who are we exactly and who are we not? What are our limits? The only way that we can progress as a largely stereotyped group is encouraging others and ourselves to vocalize our concerns and, as cliche as it sounds, to give real effort to be the best and most authentic version of ourselves, whatever that may be. It is also important to think about what our privileges are as opposed to what we lack, and use them to our highest potential. This takes some sacrifice and acceptance of vulnerability, of course; a good start might be to stop thinking about what the “norm” (which one will find is very subjective) is and trying to cater only to that concept, or being immediately discouraged when you don’t think you fit that image. This also includes “normal” ideas of success.
6. What is next for SAGC?
Our collegiate life is coming to an end and we will have to enter the adult world soon. This also means that we may no longer be able to work as a duo and we will no longer be able to commit full-time hours to SAG. However, we want the spirit of SAG to continue to grow and circulate, and so we are starting to think of ways we can allow other creative Asian femmes to use SAG’s mission statement, vernacular and work to keep empowering themselves and others. Please stay tuned for updates as we will definitely need help with keeping SAG alive!
We also have a few shows coming up to wrap up what we’ve done so far with SAG. Having these shows and seeing our work in one physical space will be truly rewarding moments for us.
Please let us know if you need anything else. Feel free to use any imagery and content from our social media or our website. Just make sure to add credits.
Interview by Emily, Intro by Chary