Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

It’s always inspiring to learn form professional artists who have turned their passion into a profession, which is why we loved to meet with painter Yao Cheng.

Yao is 1 of 25 Minted artists whose watercolor prints we chose from over 1,400 submissions to be part of our special Minted wall art collection.

We got her advice for young artists, discovered the most important thing in her workspace, and peeked inside Yao’s Columbus, OH painting studio. Take a look!

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

How did you make the leap to become a full-time professional artist?

I have been painting and drawing since I was very young. I remember going to my first art class and feeling instantly connected to creating with my hands. Since then, painting has remained a personal passion of mine. It is something that I feel so happy and at ease with, and intuitively, I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. I worked for a few years in the fashion industry before starting off on my own, and in 2012 it felt like the right time to take the leap and focus on painting again. I currently work full-time out of my home studio in Columbus.

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

What is it like having your workspace at home?

My husband and I recently purchased our first home, and with that I was able to have a much larger space to work in. In fact, I was able to separate my workflow into two spaces! The larger room is for the creative and design aspect of what I do, while the smaller room that’s off of the living room is for printing and packaging orders.

The larger room allows me to spread out various projects that I may be working on any given day. This is especially helpful when I start painting. I need ample space to place all of my paintings, and given the pace that I work in, it means paintings inevitably end up on desks and the floor! It’s a messy process, but I love being in the middle of all that creativity

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

What is the most important thing in your studio?

Music. I like having music or a podcast playing in the background while I work. Music like Bon Iver or Tegan & Sara puts me in the right mood and rhythm when I’m in the creative zone, and podcasts are great to listen to when I’m doing more repetitive tasks like inputting watercolors into the computer.

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

Do you have any advice for the artist who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Be a little naïve about starting your own business. Do your research about the legal aspects and how to protect and price your work, but take heart in that a lot of the knowledge comes from trying new things and learning as you go. I found it actually helpful to not have known all the challenges and roles I would be taking on- or else I might have been more hesitant to take the leap!

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

What has been inspiring you lately?

Fall leaves. Autumn is my favorite time of year, I love looking out the window on a drive and observing all the shades of reds, oranges and golden yellows. They blend so effortlessly together, it never fails to inspire me!

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

Personal motto?

Always make great work. It doesn’t matter who the client is or what it is for, the most important thing is that the finished piece is something you are proud of.

Yao Cheng | Minted + West Elm

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You can see more of Yao’s work on her website and in our Minted collaboration collection.

Photos: Christa Kimble Photography

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November 14, 2014

I love her work. Colors, lines just make me happy.


November 16, 2014

I have eight of Yoa’s prints throughout my home. They add incredible life by using beautiful color in the perfect balance of white space! She has prints that compliment every style of decor. I also own items from her textle line for the home!

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