Frequently Asked Questions
What's your background?
Born in New York and raised in Philadelphia, I am a first generation Chinese American. My parents immigrated with their families from Vietnam & China to Ellis Island in the 80s and met in New York. Through my parents I learned the lessons of perseverance, hard work, and grit. What I also learned from them was to not take opportunities for granted - to dream, to imagine, to be. I did this through reading a ton of books, allowing me to escape into another world and let my imagination roam free, because let's be honest, real life can be *boring* sometimes.
As a kid, I always knew I wanted to involve art in my career somehow, because as much as I loved books, I also loved to draw. I loved being able to experiment with different materials, and translate ideas in my head into reality. As an introverted and shy kid, this was my way of expressing myself, of sharing my thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper without ever having to say anything!
I went to a primarily math & sciences school (hello Masterman!) where the arts program was cut in high school. But that didn't stop me! I sought Saturday programs sponsored by the School District, like figure drawing, animation, sculpture, etc. I joined stage crew just so I could paint sets. I also worked for a mural artist and helped paint large scale indoor and outdoor murals. Eventually, I attended the Tyler School of Art - Temple University, majoring in graphic design. Upon graduating, I landed a job in Los Angeles and lived there for 5 years. It was during that time where I was exposed to different modalities of metaphysics like tarot, energy healing, astrology, etc, and sought ways to learn and understand them in a deep dive into my own self development.
My journey inward has made me realize that if we have the power to deeply understand ourselves, transform old beliefs, and empower ourselves with our own inner voice, we can affect positive change just by discovering more aspects of who you are. Your inner world reflects your outer world.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
What are you inspired by?
I'm generally a curious person and am always constantly picking up new things - novelty is key for me! I'm mostly inspired by the human condition, how we affect each other on a large scale, and how we can keep progressing. I'm fascinated with the future and how we are constantly building new innovations to bridge the gap from here to then (which doesn't seem all that far off). I'm inspired by people living their truth and telling their stories because that paves the way for others to live authentically as we often see others as mirrors of ourselves. I've always been affected by color and am very drawn to how color can communicate (more on that later). I also believe that a broad range of experiences help expand your mind and being able to pull from that library in your brain is hugely inspiring, whether it be travel, taking a class, or going to a new restaurant. It's so important to have diverse experiences as it adds perspective, that special flavor to whatever creative project you do.
What's your process like?
First, I start with the questions. Often times we want to start a project but need some clarity which asking the right questions can provide. Then, I like to do some research. That really ranges on what the projects are, but typically some visual research on the market, the competitors, and how you can differentiate yourself by defining your tone of voice. After that is the fun part - exploration! And of course from there, we funnel the ideas into the core execution. Ta da! Done and done.
What’s your relationship to color?
From a young age, I've always been attracted to bright, vivid colors. What I love about color is that it instantly communicates emotions. Different colors tell us different stories based on the tone, vibrancy, saturation, etc. Color is full of energy and "vibrates" at a certain frequency, connecting to our human brains on much more than an aesthetic level. It seeps into our insides! Let's be real, without color, life would be pretty boring. It quite literally can brighten up our lives!
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love learning and trying new things. I take classes completely unrelated to design (ceramics, reiki, etc) which further help me feel more creative. When you are a beginner, you take the pressure off of yourself for having to be "perfect" and to drive results. You can just play and figure things out as you go along - because big secret - that's what you do in life anyway. Other than that, travel is always fun!
How do you balance work and life?
For me, you don't. It's about integrating work and life. The more I tried to keep them separate, the harder it was, and it was something I felt like I was constantly failing at. But if you think about it as integration, then it feels much more manageable as you're making space for the activities you enjoy while you work. Especially for busy people - it's just hard to turn it off! As a person who needs time away to recharge, it is definitely important to create space for yourself to rejuvenate the creative juices, but I think of it as a continuous block of time rather than a finite block of time. Having routines is especially helpful here too, because then you have certain periods of the day that you can integrate a healthy lifestyle inbetween your work periods.
Describe yourself in three words:
Real Life Alien. Jk. Hopelessly Optimistic Idealist ✨
How'd you get into tarot?
My cousin actually gifted me the traditional Rider Waite for my birthday years before moving to Los Angeles, but it was there where I was much more exposed to it. I would go get tarot readings all the time, and I found it to be more like therapy than anything else. After awhile, I realized that all the answers I was seeking externally, I already had within myself. This was a really empowering moment for me to listen to my own inner voice and to trust my intuition, which led me to create my own set of tarot cards, Mystic Mondays. Since creating the deck, a lot has unfolded for me in ways I didn't expect, including a successfully funded Kickstarter and a publishing deal with Chronicle Books. My intention with creating the Mystic Mondays tarot was to create an intuition tool that people could use to listen to their own inner voices, much like what the tarot has done for me.
What is your personal spiritual practice?
It fluctuates on how I am feeling and what is presently going on in my life, but generally I like to start my day with a morning routine where I set my intention for the day with a meditation. When you set an intention for the day, you can always use that to guide you. I then like to do Morning Pages, an activity from the Artist's Way where you write 3 pages of unfiltered thoughts, which helps clear my head for the rest of the day. I do this while sipping tea or coffee. At night, I like to practice reiki on myself as an active form of meditation before I go to sleep to relax. I also pull cards whenever it feels right and when I need clarity around a certain situation. On a consistent basis, I pull monthly tarot readings for myself, using the Pentagram spread to see what I can focus on. It constantly changes but this is what's been consistent so far! Rituals and routines don't have to be perfect, it's just whatever works best for you at that time.
What is your favorite tarot card in the deck and why?
The Magician is my birth card! I relate to the energy of this card a lot as someone who uses their tools and resources to manifest from their imagination into the physical plane. I've been told that the Magician card from the Mystic Mondays deck reminds them of me, and I don't disagree. 😉✨
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be patient, kind, and compassionate with yourself. Everything is a mirror, reflecting back to you what you need to see in that moment, even if you don't like it. Befriend your inner critic, she's there to keep you safe but there will come a time when you don't need her protection anymore. Chase after your dreams with the highest intentions and don't let anybody stop you. Use your emotions as fuel, they're powerful.
How do you pronounce your last name?
Dew (like honeydew) and Wong so, DEW + WONG. The pronunciation ranges from what part of the world you're in. My Dad pronounces it like Young, traditional to the southern Vietnam region.
Feelings as Fuel
I was invited to speak at the Asian Creative Collective in NYC. To prepare for the talk, I ended up writing this out in essay format...so here it is!
I grew up in an environment where feelings were viewed as weakness. When I was 5, my mother shared with me a story about her childhood in a rural part of Vietnam, her anguish for never being able to have an education, and instead made to work and take care of her younger brothers and sisters, never being able to access her potential simply because the opportunities were not there.
I remember as she was telling her story, that I began to feel her pain as my own, and as soon as my eyes welled up, with tears pouring down my face, my heart opening up to hold space for hers, it just as quickly closed when she snapped at me, “What are you crying for?”
What I quickly learned and adapted to was that my feelings were bad, to remove them, and to keep them separate from my self.
From a young age I was always able to feel others, to the point where it became overwhelming. This is also known as empathic. My emotions felt uncontrollable, and they were also unwelcome, problematic even. So I began to separate myself from my feelings, to keep myself safe. To protect myself from being too vulnerable.
Since I was not able to express my emotions vocally, as young kids do, I turned to art. Art and books were my escape into another world, to visually translate what I was feeling onto a piece of paper. To experiment and use all sorts of different materials to CREATE whatever I wanted. I loved colors, and drawing, and reading, basically anything to do with activating my imagination, transforming my everyday life into starry eyed characters and faraway places. Whenever I got into this zone, it was like time stopped, completely present in the moment, just me and whatever I was creating that day. It was absolutely freeing. I began to find my sense of self outside of any rules and restrictions placed upon me.
Art allowed me to express my feelings that were otherwise left unsaid.
If we look back on our personal history, we always remember how we FELT in those moments.
The details are usually hazy - is it sunny, what was on the table, who was even there?
But we can go back and access those moments of pure joy or those moments of devastating pain.
That’s because emotions transcend time. Your memories still exist, inside your mind, and inside your body. You file memories with color tabs marked by emotion, your feelings stored safely within your subconscious.
You can go back and feel those emotional highs, that we’ve all experienced, in our past. And you know there is nothing you can ever do to prevent sadness again in your future.
I like to call it the emotion ocean, the waves rise up and then they crash. Over and over and over again. Let these waves wash over you.
The key is to not be afraid of it, and to let them pass naturally, flowing from one to the next.
Your emotions have a spectrum, just like colors.
What emotion do you think of when I say red? Or blue? Or yellow?
Red - Anger, Yellow - Happiness, Blue - Sadness
What I love about color, is that it expresses emotion instantly. What I love about design is that it is all about visual communication, the expression of ideas. A language made up of images, shapes, textures, colors - instantly being able to understand the feeling behind a picture without ever having to say a word.
Imagine a prism - a transparent optical glass used to refract white light into a spectrum of colors, like a rainbow.
Like a prism, we can let these colors, or rather our emotions, shine through us, letting ourselves flow from emotion to emotion, and releasing any need to judge or identify with any of them.
If we don’t let ourselves express them, we experience inner conflict. We experience doubt. We experience fear.
Our transparent prism of beautiful colors then becomes a heavily surveillanced prison, one that you have locked yourself up in, and at the same time, hold the key to let yourself out.
So even though I was able to create images visually and loved that, I struggled to find my voice. The channel between my heart leading up to my throat was disconnected. The unexpressed parts of myself stored themselves in my body and burst in moments when I least expected it. I felt like a walking time bomb.
This period of wanting to step outside into the world as an artist felt disingenuous because it didn’t align with my authentic voice. So every time I took a step forward, inside it felt like I was taking a step back. On the outside, everything looked fine, but on the inside my emotions were rebelling. It wasn’t until I aligned my inner emotions with my outer self that something shifted.
I asked myself - what is my role as an artist? As a creator? How do I want my work to be of service to something larger than myself? How do I want to impact other people in a positive way?
If you don’t see the opportunities, create them for yourself.
And then I came across tarot - you might think of psychics and fortune tellers, I found it to be an amazing intuition tool that provided me the answers I already knew, and already had, within myself. What tarot is, is a mirror, allowing you to see your story from a different perspective. A gateway into listening to your inner voice.
The problem was, that I couldn’t find a tarot deck I really resonated with because they felt old fashioned, made for a different era. I wanted other people to discover this tarot too, to discover themselves in new ways.
That’s when I decided to create Mystic Mondays, a tarot deck and app illustrated with vibrant colors and written with intentional good vibes. A perfect blend of my love for art & design, tech, and metaphysics.
What felt so hard before, creating art and sharing it with the world, felt so easy with this project because my intentions had changed. It was less about myself and more of what I can do for other people. How my version of a tarot deck allowed people to connect to their own intuition and to listen to their inner voices.
My mother has been one of my greatest teachers. She is not traditionally educated, an immigrant who came to America with barely anything along with her parents and 8 other siblings after living in a refuge camp in Hong Kong. They all lived in a tiny apartment in the Bronx not far from here. But even though she was never able to teach me how to read words, or how to process emotions, she taught me what it is to survive, to empower yourself despite the challenges you face. And through watching her, carrying the ancestral torch as it passes along to me, I have learned the importance of words that are unsaid. The emotions that deserve to be felt. Because once you face them, you can survive anything.
You not only heal yourself, but you heal your lineage. The future of generations after you.
Feelings are not your weakness, they are your strength. Emotion is the energy that can propel you forward.
Your emotions are your personal navigation tools. Your GPS. It is what makes you human.
Emotions are feedback. They are functional, and they give us clues to what is going on beneath the surface.
And once you harness them, you also harness your own power.
Feelings are messy. like a palette of paint, you can mix and match them, create new colors, and feel multiple emotions at the same time.
Paint the picture you want to see, mixed with the colors from your own unique paint set - your memories. Your experiences. Your life.
Paint your future. Remodel your past. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, use them to your advantage. Use them to connect to the human part of you. So that when you look into the eyes of the person next to you, you see them because you see yourself.
Use your feelings as your fuel.
Present, Past, Future - A Short Story
We wake up with our breaths hot from breathing in aroma that still smells of the savory dinner you made 5 hours ago, the taste still lingering in your mouth as you recount the glass of Malbec that swished with hints of black cherry wafting up to your nose.
The memories of years past, all stacked up into this lingering existence, recounted in our dreams, where in this present moment, we savor each second we’ve lived the day before.
We routinely stretch within the bounds of our comfort levels, reliving each scenario with our combined years of experience to conversations, the words rolling off our tongues like muscle memory. Our actions premeditated by our subconscious, reliving patterns that you developed as a child and continued living out as a form of self sabotage that allows you to continue to live in those comforting moments of familiarity.
We take in stride by stride, avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk, for fear of the detriments that could inhibit our future. The face cream we bought to prevent the crows feet from developing around the crinkles of our eyes as we look in the mirror to prevent the inevitable after effects of time well spent. Our age has not only become a mark of our experience, but also our ability to survive. The wrinkles we form, like permanent face paint, shows a life well lived but also signs of a fading existence.
We wake up with our minds encapsulated with ideas that live in the future. These ideas sparkle and dance ballet, and occasionally hip hop, as we struggle to recount the step by step moves of how to live your best life. The soundtrack is slightly muted as you press up against the glass, your ears straining to hear more. ‘What is the future like? What is my future like?’
We wake up invigorated with action steps. We pull out our planners and write our to-do lists, blocking out lunch appointments with our friends by the hour, as time continues to tick, never stopping for a second for you to catch up. The pure smell of caffeine hits the brain like a lightning bolt, signaling all the wheels to start churning, to yolo, and to maximize all the combined resources that your body and mind can offer.
The future is bright, full and free of ideas of time that has not passed, an amorphous glow to our current reality, illuminated by an elusive light with a source that we can’t seem to identify.
With every second that passes, our body is restructured will millions of new cells, flushing out the system with old news and making room for the new and improved version of yourself. As we metamorphosize into a different cellular structure, thinking about what pleasantries tomorrow will bring, while waking up and looking completely the same.
We wake up with our minds focused on the future, our bodies leaning forward, with our minds still living in the past.
Our shoulders hunched, as we carry the burden of our emotionally strong memories, tumultuously leading you forward into uncertainty as you rack your brain of what you already know so that you feel less afraid.
We step into each moment, utilizing our map of past experiences, to better prepare for the seize of our futures.
Living your life in the present, looking into the face of the future with the lens of your past.
Upcoming - Create Your Tarot: The Fool’s Journey
New York - June 29th, 2019 - 11 to 1PM
Channel your inner artist and learn the basics of the tarot by drawing your own cards! We will begin with the Fool’s Journey, going over the basic meanings and exploring what each card uniquely means to you with prompts, journaling, sketching, and meditation. The Major Arcana cards represent the different stages of life, and we will explore the tarot through the lens of your own experiences and memories, discovering aspects of yourself along the way.
Let your inner child out to play, expressing yourself freely onto the cards, and channeling whatever messages come through. If you have been meaning to create your own tarot deck, this is a great opportunity to get started! Although we will go through all 22 cards, this is merely the starting off point for your process and everyone is encouraged to create at their own pace.
Buy your ticket here.
Renegade Craft Brooklyn
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