Irene Chung’s observational illustration diaries help her find comfort in spending time alone

After leaving her family to study in the US, the Providence-based illustrator uses her work to navigate life without her family close by.

17 October 2023

Irene Chung’s illustrations are so charming and whimsical that you might be surprised to hear that they’re rooted in the experience of separation. Born and raised in Taipei, four years ago Irene moved to the US for education, leaving behind her artist parents – her greatest creative inspiration. Much of her work explores her relationship with them, but also her learning to live without them. “I feel strongly about the difficulty of separation and the strength we grow from solitudes,” Irene says. In June of this year she spent a month in Seattle, and created the series Seattle Diary. Depicting bakery queues, lone diners, picnics and bookshops, Irene familiarised herself with the city through drawing; the process helped her learn how to “be alone” rather than “lonely”, navigating the experience as a solo traveller.

While using a wide range of mediums – and often using analogue methods when drawing out and about to catch an “instant impression” – Irene finishes her work with digital methods, primarily as a means of capturing a variety of textures. Combining these techniques gives Irene’s work its alluring aesthetic – warm, yet clean at the edges.

GalleryIrene Chung: Seattle Diary (Copyright © Irene Chung, 2023)

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Irene Chung: Seattle Diary (Copyright © Irene Chung, 2023)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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