Quit your corporate job to pursue your passion in the arts? Angela Chong received more than a few raised eyebrows when she took a leap of faith to become an artist. Having never formally pursued an education in the arts, she started from scratch, teaching herself how to design. She then went on to create Cavalier, a sartorial streetwear label for kids.
Within months of its launch, Cavalier was invited to show in Paris and was lauded as ‘the new Jeremy Scott of children’s fashion’. Over the last few years, Angela has also devoted her time to rebuilding the health of shelter dogs, taking care of her dog Lumi, and growing the pet store What The Fur. All this, while continuing to create.
Angela is one of three artists GXS Bank collaborated with for our brand launch. She was given a prompt that reflected contemporary conventions and was given free reign to come up with her own unique interpretation of the statement. Here is her take on it.
We got Angela to answer 5 questions, to get to know her better and to find out more about her journey as an artist.
What was your journey as a Creative?
Apart from O-Level art, I’ve never been properly schooled as a creative, having given up offers from two art schools for a business degree. After seven years of paying my dues in the corporate world of advertising and production, I decided that it was time to pay attention to what I really wanted to do.
I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator for design and pattern making, launched streetwear label Cavalier and took it to 20 countries, and even had the honour of dressing Beyonce & Jay-Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy.
I hope more people, whatever their age and ambition, will understand that it really doesn’t matter what you’re schooled in. Challenge yourself, challenge conventions and if you love something, immerse yourself in it, change your career and your life. It’s really as simple as that, there is no need to overthink it.
If you were not an artist, what would you have wanted to do and why? Is it still possible to pursue this?
In 2017, my husband and I adopted a rescue dog who came with a ton of health and mental issues. I’ve since become a certified canine nutrition specialist and a shelter volunteer, helping fix dogs’ health with nutrition.
My latest pursuit is a more personal one - I’m currently studying to be a certified strength and conditioning specialist (a professional who applies scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance).
After breaking records with my cholesterol, I decided it was time to change my lifestyle. I fell in love with the mental relief and physical wellness that comes with working out. So, like everything else that interests me, I decided to take the plunge. It’s all or nothing, right?
What inspires your work?
This has always been the toughest question for me to answer because inspiration bombards me everywhere, in everything, and with everyone. It’s a switch that I can't turn off and it’s a massive accumulation of a gazillion things that gets extruded onto my work.
At the very root of my inspiration is my family.
From a young age, I learned to appreciate the juxtaposition of clean, classic and quality from my mother, with the brazen and avant-garde from my father.
My father would show up rocking a nude organza blazer - that’s the kind of fearlessness that I was nurtured in. When I debuted Cavalier in 2014, I designed and named pieces after my parents and my older brother, who has also been a huge creative inspiration to me since we were kids.
Have you faced any ethical or moral dilemmas in your work? How do you navigate such situations?
I’ve always leaned towards irreverence and have put out my fair share of controversial work. In 2015, I launched Cavalier’s Pasche Dress, a timeless shift with a surrealist edge - an ode to English designer John Pasche of the legendary lips and tongue logo for The Rolling Stones.
Some twisted minds put a dirty perspective to an innocent design which caused an uproar on social media but any news really is good news because we also had people standing up for us and for art. The dress sold out that season and actually became a signature piece that we would revamp and drop annually for collectors.
In order to live a full life, it’s important to be able to take in what you dish out. I’ve been able to stand my ground when I’ve needed to but I’m also proud of the fact that I’ve been able to put my pride aside and realign when necessary. Sometimes, you have to see the bigger picture and realise that the world doesn’t just revolve around you.
How do you think you are challenging conventions through your art?
Art in itself challenges conventions. No idea is completely brand new - it stems from inspirational conventions, but it also challenges and morphs those conventions into something spectacular.
These days, Angela is busy pushing herself in the fitness realm at Ritual Gym, which she calls her second home. Stay connected with Angela through her Instagram.
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