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On uncertainty

An image showing the two versions of Jade—the finance Jade and the artist Jade—sitting on the couch together.

Jade Chen (Art Direction, 2024)

All my life I’ve struggled with uncertainty and being true to who I am.

I was raised in a family that immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. Taiwan is in a constant state of liminality. Mountainous and verdant, yet home to some of the most sparkling, lively cities in the world. Not quite an independent country, and always on the cusp of chaos, crisis, and change.

With uncertainty looming, I was taught to seek absolute stability.

In search of that, after I’d graduated college, I worked in financial services for years and years in New York City. Institutional banking, private equity, venture capital. Client onboarding, secretary, analyst, fund accountant.

But never creative.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that was what I’d always wanted to be. I’ve been drawing and illustrating all my life, and, after home and family, it’s what I love most. But finance was safer, and I was scared of uncertainty.

And I continued being scared, until a greater, more terrifying fear reared its head: being trapped on a path I hated. Being stuck forever.

Because at the very heart of it, the act of illustrating—taking an idea from your imagination and translating it to paper or a drawing tablet—has always been about uncertainty. At the start, you have in your mind’s eye how you think the image will turn out, but it’s never like that by the time your work is finished. In fact, it’s often better.

I’d always had it in me to embrace uncertainty and to chase its counterpart: Possibility.

I left New York and am now in my second year in Art Direction at the Brandcenter.

Who knows what will happen next? But that’s the beauty of it.