Chicago artist tells Apple how iPad guided her creative life | Cult of Mac

Chicago artist tells Apple how iPad guided her creative life

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Chicago-based artist Belinda Kuo mainly uses an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app in her work.
Chicago-based artist Belinda Kuo mainly uses an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app in her work.
Photo: Apple

In the latest installment of a series in which Apple showcases artists and professionals using its devices, Chicago-based lettering artist Belinda  Kou explained how an iPad Air diverted her from studies in biopsychology to an art career.

Apple showcases lettering artist and her iPad Air

Interviewed for the long-running series, Kuo is currently a lettering artist and businesswoman who trains others in the arts. But Kou said it was an iPad Air that diverted her from the career path her family expected and put her on a new one.

“While I can’t speak on behalf of every Asian American community,” she told Apple, “I personally grew up in one where the engineers, doctors and other people with STEM careers were among the most celebrated.”

“This put internal pressure on me to take one of those career paths, especially since I didn’t know anyone else who looked like me in the arts,” she added.

Kou’s family, from Taiwan, immigrated to the Detroit area. There she began studying biopsychology. But she had always had an artistic side. As she studied, she treated arts as a hobby, though it influenced her science work, too, as she found herself redesigning lesson plans and worksheets in creative ways.

“I was always dabbling,” she said. “It was always on the side, slowly building into a main thing.”

iPad: first contact

Following a stint with Teach for America, Kou decided to give graphic design a try. She landed an associate art director gig at a marketing agency. That’s where she first used an iPad.

“Once I got my iPad and Apple Pencil, I created faster than I’d been able to with pencil and paper, which helped me to share consistently on social media,” she said. “Drawing directly onscreen with Apple Pencil versus drawing on one device and having to look up at a different screen to see how it translates has really sped up my process.”

After her work on social media got more and more attention, Kou found she could leave the agency and start her own business.

Kuo also trains others in the arts.
Kuo, right, also trains others in the arts. That’s one of her illustrations on the left.
Photo: Apple

iPad, key to digital art focus

“Between [using the iPad Air] and honing my voice and style, I started to attract clients,” she said. “Today, so many of my clients hire me for digital art. I don’t think I could run my business without iPad.”

Relying chiefly on iPad Air and an Apple Pencil, Kou works mainly in the Procreate digital illustration and painting app that is exclusive to Apple’s tablet. She also teaches it as an app featured in the tutorials she is commissioned to produce.

Having pivoted away from an expected career to one based around her passion, Kou, who has a child, focuses in part on building a network to help mothers who want to pursue creative work.

“I always wished I had someone to encourage me and also show me how to do this, and I’m willing to be that person for other moms who are getting started today,” she said.

“It’s never too late to pivot,” Kou added. “The fear is always going to be there; you just have to push through it to see what’s on the other side.”