|Today’s post is incredibly special to us because not only is Happy the creator of the stunning Fibonacci Sequins logo, but she is also someone Dona has known since the beginning of Happy’s career as a Microsoft intern. This incredible young woman lives a life of style and art that is entirely her own and we are very excited to showcase the hundred shades of Happy to you.|
(All photo credit in this shoot goes to Tian Luo)
Tell us a little about you.
My name is Happy and I have quite a unique story, perhaps impossible to sum up in a little one paragraph intro, but I’ll try my best. I guess you could say I’m retired from the STEM field (so weird to think about at the ripe age of 25!). My life up until last year revolved around the fast paced glimmer of the tech industry, but now I am an artist supporting myself by selling my paintings. Days once spent 9-5 galloping towards the nearest spec deadline with a feature crew of engineers and designers are now spent alone, hermit crabbing inside my studio and painting all day burning through gallons of coffee.
I studied computer science at the University of Washington, and then worked in the tech industry as a Product Manager for over 3 years, first at Microsoft on the Windows UX team, and then later at a startup in San Francisco. I’ve had an extremely positive experience learning and working in tech, and have built friendships and mentorships that have lasted to this day…
However, I couldn’t ignore the fire in my heart that propelled me to follow my true passion - art. A year ago, I gave up a tech career in order to become a full-time artist, and it’s been the most exciting and fulfilling adventure ever since.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Overall, I’m a pretty frugal and laid back person. I don’t think too much about outfits - I just wear whatever tickles my fancy at that particular moment, and I always love a good deal. In fact, all of the pieces in the following outfits are under $25. I’m the opposite of shy, so I often experiment with weird colors, patterns, and statement pieces – life’s too short to play it safe! :)
This outfit is something I usually wear on a day out in the city; it’s a great San Francisco outfit because SF’s weather can be quite bipolar, so I always bring extra layers with me. This flannel shirt was actually purchased for my boyfriend, but I’ve kind of stolen it over the years. The knee high socks are also to counter the fluctuating temperatures in San Francisco: during the day when it’s sunny and warm, I roll the socks down to my ankles, and once the fog rolls in and the temperatures drop a good 30 degrees (not even exaggerating), I bring the socks up to mid thigh.
One lesson I learned from wearing this Guns ‘n Roses shirt is that you should probably know the band whose logo you sport… Otherwise you can offend some pretty die hard fans when they see you in public, recite song lyrics to you, and you have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m still a Guns ‘n Roses noob, but this tank remains one of my favorite staple pieces.
I love this skull cuff that I got from Love Culture. It’s super bold and dark, and a great way to edge out any bland casual outfit. I’m also a fan of layering necklaces instead of just wearing one to add some extra dimension. The top necklace was a handmade gift from friend who is a jewelry maker (Check out her awesome stuff at iocollective.co), and the bottom necklace is from Forever21 - people are always surprised to hear that I got the bottom necklace at such a popular store, but you can find some really affordable and adorable costume jewelry at Forever21 :)
This outfit is something I would wear if I was going out at night or to a music festival (of course, I would exchange the shoes for sneakers in that case). I am in LOVE with this space kitty tank top, and it’s so comfortable I even wear it to sleep sometimes. I got it for a freakin’ steal during an Urban Outfitters online sale… It was only $2.50!!!
I am also equally in love with this super trippy and artsy kimono. Every time I wear it, I bask in the compliments I receive. It’s one of those things that look SO uncomfortably gaudy and bright on the rack, but if you pair it with the right outfit it can be a blessing. In this case, both my space kitty tank and kimono are loud statement pieces, but worn together they balance each other out.
The skeleton choker creeps most people out, but it was love at first sight for me! It completely aligns with my love for the weird and dark and unconventional, and I simply think it’s quite pretty. :)
This is an old outfit from 3 years ago, but one of my favorites so I had to share. It was during my hat wearing phase, particularly this bowler hat from Forever21 that I wore with EVERYTHING. I loved the classic nostalgia this old design brought to a simple t-shirt and shorts outfit. (Also notice the layering of necklaces again, a habit I carry to this day!)
It was also during this time that I first started wearing bracelets, and so I ended up wearing every bracelet I ever owned all at once haha. I thought it spiced up my arms and hands with some interesting bling.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
Growing up I had zero - no, probably negative - style. I was a proud tomboy who hated anything girly or feminine, and eventually as I matured, I started embracing my feminine side - but my tomboyish tendencies still left traces in my style today; I like to mix and match feminine and masculine elements in my outfits to create edginess and androgyny.
These shoes are a perfect balance of style + comfort & also feminine + masculine: I’ve had female friends tell me they look too masculine and ugly, which just makes me love them even more! I love the buckles, the platform, and the sweet cut outs.
I have a strong and open personality, so I’m also not afraid of wearing several statement pieces. Recently, as I have started exploring more psychedelic themes with my paintings, my outfits have followed suit and became more colorful and patterned. I’m currently obsessed with mixing two bold patterns that might seemingly clash, but somehow make them harmonize.
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
Be open to all possibilities, and don’t be too rigid about the type of career you think you want, or you think is right for you. Most of the classes you take in school will be heavily focused on the software engineering/programming aspect of a STEM career, but in reality you will have a plethora of roles and skills available to choose from when you begin your career.
When I struggled in some coding classes in school, I felt this tragic hopelessness that I was guaranteed to fail in my career, because I thought that the only option once I graduated was to become a developer. But once I discovered the PM role (which was never mentioned in any of the classes I took), I realized it was way more fitting for someone like me who enjoyed innovating and building fun projects, but didn’t particularly enjoy coding for 10 hours a day.
I also know tons of developers who later became PMs, PMs who became designers, and even PMs who decided they loved coding and became developers… So really, anything is possible and you will eventually find the role (or roles) that are suited for your particular skillset and interests.
What is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
This painting (“Fairytale”) is the project I’m most proud of! :) With tech, I had never really done any projects on my own in my spare time. Most of the most successful projects I’ve worked on was as part of a team, and though some of those projects were influential and reached a wide audience (like system controls on Windows 8), I always had an extremely talented feature crew working alongside me, so I couldn’t attribute their success to only me.
However, this painting marks a huge milestone for my personal and career growth as an artist. It is the first painting of mine that will be shown in an acclaimed art gallery in San Francisco, the Modern Eden. I had been applying to galleries for the last two years, and none of my emails were ever answered. So I just kept trying - I practice for several hours a day, I’m constantly pushing myself to try new concepts and challenge myself with more intricate subjects, and finally this year a gallery accepted my application! It was actually the first gallery I had visited when I moved to San Francisco, and many of the artists who have displayed there are some of my biggest role models. I’m indescribably excited and honored to be showcased next to them in October. :)
What is really common misconception about tech or STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?
An old and popular misconception about tech is that everyone in tech has a “geeky” lifestyle and interests - sci fi, video games, Mountain Dew, comic books, etc. This, of course, is all thanks to the dramatization of tech and “computer geeks” by the media and pop culture. And that is definitely NOT true. In my time in tech I’ve met both men and women who have an eclectic range of interests that are often not even in the same ballpark as technology.
For many people, tech is a career, not their entire lifestyle. So when I hear young people who are discouraged or anxious about entering tech because they feel they don’t fit into the “geeky” character mold, I always bring up examples of my STEM peers who are artists, jewelry makers, hockey players, fashion bloggers, authors, etc.
A new misconception about tech (that I’ve seen increase in parallel with the popularity of those 3 month ”coding academy” schools) is that it’s an easy career option to switch to for someone who wants a lucrative pay check. Many of these coding academies advertise six-digit job offers after only 12 weeks of training – and yes, there are definitely success stories like this out there, but it is far from just a simple career upgrade for someone who needs some extra cash.
One thing I’ve learned from being in school for computer science and also working with some people who have actually successfully switched from a non-tech field to a STEM career, is that it takes a lot of PASSION and genuine INTEREST in the tech industry. If you’re just attracted to the financial benefits of tech, then it’s likely going to be a very tedious 12 weeks of staying up late in the labs working on your coding projects. The only fuel to get you though these vigorous programs and stressful deadlines at work is an authentic love for innovating technology and building software.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
I’m extremely active on social media, so feel free to follow me on all these platforms!
- Instagram (daily photos of my art and studio and works in progress)
- YouTube (speed paintings and art tutorials)
- Snapchat: @happydartist
How many ways can we say it? We LOVE this girl! We love that this smart, technical, artistic, hermit crab has a crazy social media life where she embraces all the girly, non-girly, bohemian, techie, [weird] parts of her life with such passion and abandon. We also love that we have a crazy talented artist friend to call on when we need exactly that right one-of-a-kind logo or gift! And if you’re in SFO, you must absolutely go check out Happy’s painting “Fairytale” at [The Modern Eden.](http://(http://www.moderneden.com/)
Dona & Beth