B.F.A. Communications Design ’14
People occasionally tell Rose Wong that she’s “Tumblr famous.”
An aspiring illustrator and graphic designer, Rose Wong has made a name for herself on the social media platform Tumblr. She uses her site to display her work, and her posts regularly receive hundreds and sometimes thousands of “notes,” indications that followers “like” them or “reblog” them on their personal Tumblrs. With so many fans, Wong has also become an online mentor for other artists. People from around the world send her queries, which she responds to personally and on her blog.
Gateway spoke to Wong about how she has harnessed Tumblr to develop a following, discover other illustrators, and create new artistic opportunities.
When did you start your Tumblr and when did it begin attracting attention?
I started it four to five years ago. At first, I reblogged art I liked and wrote about movies. Later, I started posting my art. I’d always tried and failed to keep a diary—but I liked the idea of a visual diary. For a while, Tumblr had a special feature where they’d spotlight blogs that were heavily recommended by other Tumblr users on their main page. It really helped me build a following.
So who are the people who reach out to you and what do they want to know?
It’s a range: I receive emails from high school students or people in other art schools who are interested in transferring to Pratt. A lot of people ask questions anonymously, and I’ll answer those collectively and post them.
As for their questions, people ask about Pratt a lot: How did you make friends? How are the classes? What’s it like living in New York? They ask me about constructing their portfolios for admissions offices. I tell them art schools like seeing imagination and that they should not be afraid to add some of their favorite pieces.
People also often ask about my tools. They feel that there’s some kind of magic in the right pencil—like it’s a wand. I understand that curiosity. I often ask my teachers what paints they use because the colors seem to be flowing so beautifully.
Have you seen advice on Tumblr that you’ve been inspired by?
I follow a lot of amazing artists, especially Victo Ngai, Sam Wolfe Connelly, and Andrew DeGraff, who was actually my teacher last year for a class called Illustrative Typography.
I remember one time Sam Wolfe Connelly was asked: ‘How do you overcome an art block?’ He said, essentially, that ‘you see a lot of art in the world—but what is not there that you want to see? Draw that. Create that.’ That response was mind-blowing—because that’s exactly what made me want to be an artist. I want to create something completely fresh and new.
How do you see Tumblr helping your career moving forward?
It’s really good advertising, and I’ve been contacted for small jobs through my Tumblr. I’ve designed two album covers and a few tattoos. Tumblr is also a good vehicle to meet people, and it’s a showcase for a range of work, so people who want to hire me can see pieces from beyond my portfolio. I’m not concerned that my artistic progression is visible and that unfinished work is posted.
On blogs, I see successful people who were where I am now, and I see novice artists as they’re launching their blogs. It’s like: where I was, where I am, and where I could be. That’s why I love Tumblr—it’s just people being vulnerable, illuminating their own process, and opening up about their journey.