By Josie Huang
Published Jan 24, 2022 2:08 PM
Jonathan Chang has drawn enough portraits of Asians attacked during the pandemic that he has a whole system down.
As soon as he decides to spotlight a case, he fires up Photoshop and studies the image of the victim used in news reports. Within a half hour or so, he’s able to upload a finished portrait to Twitter or Instagram, in hopes the subject’s name and story will be widely shared.
Some of the portraits are of people who survived their injuries. Those who didn’t are outlined in white.
“’It’s kind of like a halo,” said Chang, a Taiwan-born illustrator and designer who grew up in L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley. “It’s to keep track of the ones that are no longer with us.”
His portraits share bright, colorful backgrounds, the subjects brought to life in confident strokes — all of which belie the grim circumstances that drew them to Chang’s attention. It’s a signature style that has made Chang’s work perhaps the most recognizable of the #StopAsianHate movement. And he keeps returning to it for portraits he wishes he didn’t have reason to create anymore.
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“I just feel as a creative, we all kind of have some sort of responsibility to use our skills to enact positive social change or document things or raise awareness.”Jonathan Chang, Designer and Illustrator