Meet Chandra Oh, The Designer Behind Your New Favorite Tote Bag

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Earlier last month, we announced the launch of our exciting new Featured Artist Tote Bag Program.

If you haven’t heard about it, we are accepting submissions for one of your designs to be featured on a limited edition tote bag. We’ll feature a new artist every season, and the tote bags will only have a limited edition run—making them that much more special. You can submit your designs here to possibly earn a spot on one of our totes.

Our first featured artist is none other than Chandra Oh—our Design & Brand Manager here at Annmarie Skin Care.

1. What made you become an artist? Tell us your backstory.

I would say the creative gene runs in my family's bloodline. My great-grandfather, who was a painter, led the art department for the Korean government before being captured by North Korean soldiers during the Korean Conflict. Growing up, I would accompany my grandfather to the store to pick up cheap wood, so that he could make 3d models of buildings as a hobby.

My mother went to fashion school and worked hard to become the primary pattern maker for a denim manufacturing company. So being surrounded by all of this energy, I've always been drawn to the magic of creative expression and creative problem-solving.

a life long love for art

Ever since I was little, I enjoyed drawing, coloring, and sewing. I remember in elementary school, I'd make drawings for teachers as a token of appreciation. When I wanted to change up my dolls' styles, instead of buying new clothes (which were much more expensive), I would go to the discounted fabrics bin at the fabric store and hand-sew garments for my toys. Creating and making was my preferred way of interacting with the world.

In high school, I spent a lot of time painting and had the opportunity to lead members of our class committee to paint 30 feet posters for multiple spirit rallies throughout the year. By the end of senior year, I had decided to attend an arts college.

Chandra in high school + the posters she helped create

However, during and immediately after college, I didn't feel as though I deserved the title of an artist or designer. There was a sense of pressure I felt in claiming that sort of identity and I constantly rejected the idea. It was only until I let go of this self-created pressure and practiced designing daily that I started to see myself as an artist + designer.

I realize now how much my need to create seeps into many different aspects of my life. I am and have always been a curious observer—one who likes to marvel at otherwise unseen or mundane moments and find ways to shine light on those perspectives. This quality, alone, will constantly drive me to find ways to capture meaning through creating, designing, and making.

2. What does Honest. Wild. Beautiful. mean to you?

Authenticity. Forgiveness. Compassion. Feeling connected (whether to yourself, to the land, to your community, etc.).

All the moments (the strides, the mistakes, the trivial) that make you, you. Embracing those moments. Loving those moments.

3. Where was the inspiration behind this piece you submitted?

I was drawn to the juxtaposition between the strength and subtlety you find in Annmarie Skin Care's natural products. I wanted to represent this duality through the symbolism of a woman's back.

In the same way ASC products are potent, yet gentle, the spine represents a system that is strong enough to support the rest of the body while flexible enough to provide graceful movement. I wanted to show the woman's back as the subject to represent fortitude, yet have her look over her shoulder in a way that feels soft and intimate.

4. How would you describe the style of your work? And how did it come to be?

I would say I've always found interest in duality. Perhaps it's the tension between my deep, emotional rising sign (water) and pragmatic, grounded sun sign (earth) that has allowed me to observe, experience, and appreciate dichotomies of all kinds.

So, it's not surprising to find aspects of this in both the way that I create and what I create. I love mixing power with vulnerability, rough textures with soft shapes/forms, etc.

A peek inside Chandra's sketchbook 

5. Tell us about your creative process.

I like to first find what limitations there are (if any) and see how I can use them to my advantage. I, then, give myself the chance to brainstorm and come up with any ideas related to the prompt, no matter how simple, wild, obvious, or far of a reach it seems.

This can come either in words (word clouds), images (mood boards), or thumbnail sketches. I, then, take a deeper dive into the ideas that stand out to me and develop them further, by rendering more details, mocking them up, or producing a prototype. From there, I ask for feedback, find ways to improve, and iterate.

6. What do you do when you're stuck in a creative rut?

As a quicker solution, I like to step away from the computer and take a walk or do some light stretching or a sun salutation sequence. It's quite amazing to see how connected our minds and bodies are—giving my body some TLC physically can totally help clear and rejuvenate my mental state.

Other times, I'll allow myself no more than 5-10 minutes to peruse design resources/platforms to see if others' work can spark some inspiration. I like to limit the time I give myself to see others' work to force my brain to work through it rather than rely on someone else's way of looking at things as my solution.

For longer periods of feeling uninspired, I like to allow myself the time and space to tap out for a bit to take part in other things I enjoy. You'll find that your creativity will seep in in other ways, and that in itself can kickstart a new period of inspiration and expression.

7. Any pre- or mid-designing rituals?

Making a yummy coffee concoction and throwin' on some chill tunes (currently, Alina Baraz, Natalia Lafourcade, and Daft Punk) or a good podcast (Joe Rogan Experience, Tigerbelly, and My Favorite Murder).

Finding a spot with good, natural lighting that doesn't interfere with the lighting of your device. And lastly, love to keep pen, pencil, and paper nearby, because sometimes, going old school helps tremendously when jotting down notes/ideas/sketches.

8. What's next for you? Anything you want to plug?

I've been using my free time to work on digital collages (which you can find on IG @ceveoh.la). Go check it out 😉

Don’t miss out on swooping one of Chandra's totes up—these designs are limited edition!

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  1. says

    Chandra, you are a true artist to the core! I recognize that by your art as well as how you explain your thought processes. There is a sensitivity to the world around you, and how you creatively live your life in response to it. The artist in me recognizes the artist in you! Blessings💕

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