My life as a physicist
I was born in China - where I didn't have the best relationship with my father. Although I did not have a passion for Physics, I chose to study it as it enabled me to get a good scholarship and to move to the U.S. to be away from home. In 2018, I shifted gears and started a Ph.D. program in Medical Physics at UCLA with a full scholarship. I had hoped that this program would ignite my passion for physics, but instead I became increasingly disinterested, isolated (especially once Covid happened), and depressed. I frequently rode my bicycle competitively to release my stress and to escape from reality. In the fall of 2020, I decided to leave the program early with a Master’s degree and embark on a different, unknown path.
Where the art began
After graduation, I got a job offer to work in a hospital in Miami as a medical physicist. I thought long and hard about what brought me joy. On a bike trip to White Mountain, while standing at the 14,252ft summit, I realized that I couldn’t live without mountains. On days when I couldn’t ride my bikes, I also discovered that doodling and drawing cartoons comforted my soul. These experiences led me to reject the job offer in Miami. I decided I would stay in LA, ride my bike, and develop my skills as an artist. My friends looked at me like I had two heads.
Having decided to become an artist, there was one problem. I had spent nearly my entire life training to become a scientist. I did not know how to draw. I had no knowledge of art. I had no connections to the art world. Nevertheless, in my heart, I believed I could become a successful artist. In order to have time and mental energy to study art, I found a job in a bike shop. It was a humbling and unsatisfying experience. I did not have the luxury of leisure time. I had many beautiful bikes but no time to ride them. After several years of working at the bike shop, I went on a biking trip to Lake Tahoe. On my way I listened to We Were Dreamers by Simu Liu. This book told his story about becoming an actor after having a miserable career as an accountant. I resonated with his story, but it also made me angry. I was angry at myself for working at a meaningless retail job and not making real progress toward my goals. I wanted to be an artist. While working at the bike shop, I got lost and forgot why I chose the path I chose.
LA flea markets and fine art
After that trip I started to take baby steps toward being a full-time artist. I had a website with some initial prints I had created, but I had virtually no online sales. In October 2022 I started vending at flea markets in the LA area. It sounded silly to me to sell handmade original art at flea market, but surprisingly, it worked! I found people who appreciated work made by heart. In two months, I saw that I could be a full-time artist. I am beyond grateful for the LA community.
I took some time off in July 2023 after three years of hustle to reconnect to my purpose and to be more mindful. During that time I realized that I wanted to slow down from the weekly flea market hustle. My mission is not merely to sell art; my mission is to inspire those who want to be true to themselves and be happy. Following your heart and trying to make a living from what makes you happy can be difficult at times. If you are struggling, remember that there are no “right” paths and all paths take time. You just have to keep going and try different things along the way.