7 Asian American and Pacific Islander Creatives You Should Be Following

with pie author and artist Lauren Ko of lokokitchen

MAY 12, 2021 updated Aug 6, 2021

 

Lauren’s pie featuring alicemoore’s The Dog Ate My Ruler on dinner napkins

Scrolling through Lauren Ko’s Instagram feed will definitely leave you hungry, but may also inspire you to pick up your sketchbook or dust off your sewing machine. Lauren’s passion for pie paired with her love of textiles and surface patterns have led to some incredible baked goods including this past March’s Pi Day project inspired by Spoonflower’s own alicemoore’s geometric design.

This May, to celebrate and recognize the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), we asked Lauren to share some AAPI creatives you should be following along with why your support is so important year-round.

 

Meet Lauren Ko of lokokitchen

 

I am an artist, self-taught home baker, founder of the Instagram account @lokokitchen, and author of the best-selling cookbook, PIEOMETRY. My colorful geometric style made all hell bake loose on the frontier of contemporary pie art, and my iconic signature spoke design has been dubbed the “modern lattice.” My work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, O Magazine, Buzzfeed’s Tasty, and on-screen in Martha Bakes and CBS’ Innovation Nation and Sunday Morning. I am originally from San Diego, CA, but am currently based in Seattle, WA with my partner, Ben, and our bear dog, Santi.

So many other AAPI creatives have supported my work, facilitated connections, and opened doors to help me along this unexpected career path, and my hope is that I am a steward of my platform in the same way. Spotlighting their work, bringing them into projects with me, shouting my admiration both from the rooftops and in everyday conversations, and continually keeping an eye out for more AAPI artists to follow are just a few ways to demonstrate support.

Over the past few years, I’ve been the recipient of misguided comments like, “It’s weird to see an Asian girl making apple pies [because it’s a “traditional American dessert” and I ostensibly wasn’t American enough?]” or “how do your Asian parents feel about you going into a creative field instead of pursuing a more traditional and lucrative profession?” because there’s the trope that all Asian parents require their children to become doctors or lawyers. I think the more space we take up in these sectors and the louder, more visible we are, the greater the chance to reframe this misguided thinking and to make it clear that we definitely belong.

The following is a group of creatives whose work I greatly admire not only for the aesthetics of their art, but for all the ways they use their work to engage deeply with their communities. Whether it is through ethical business practices or commitments to zero-waste or powerful cultural storytelling, each individual wields their medium to bring beauty, color, and insight to their platforms, which they then also parlay into powerful, positive impact on the world at large.

Kayla Wakayama

Opal Nail Studio

Why Lauren is drawn to Kayla’s work:

“Kayla’s nail art is incredibly intricate and her stylistic range is so vast. Some standout designs on her Instagram feed include lifelike pug faces, realistic proteas and banana leaves, spooky wilderness scenes, and inclusive celebrations of all bodies. She uses non-toxic materials and leads her industry by modeling ethical salon culture. Not only is she a talented artist, I also consistently see her using her business platform to support other women-owned businesses and to speak out about social injustices. I appreciate her holistic approach to being an artist, business owner, and advocate.”

Tiffany Meriwether

The Loved Co.

Why Lauren is drawn to Tiffany’s work:

“Tiffany’s floral arrangements are ethereal, elegant, and romantic. The attention she puts into sourcing blooms, styling the arrangements, and assembling her installations is clear, and the storytelling that accompanies her creations has a beautiful dream-like quality. I want to live inside her Instagram images and considering that the mission of her business is to communicate that “you are loved,” I can imagine her flowerscapes would be a tranquil place to dwell.”

Photo by Beatrice Howell

Photo by Meiwen See

Frankie Gaw

Little Fat Boy

Why Lauren is drawn to Frankie’s work:

“Frankie is a self-proclaimed designer by day and Asian grandma by night. His Instagram feed absolutely pops with bright colors and pristine dumpling pleats. He cooks craveable takes on Tawainese food, interpreting dishes he’s learned from his grandmother through his own lens as a first-generation American. Not to mention, his clean, colorful presentation is an instant serotonin boost.”

Booki Vivat

Booki Vivat

Why Lauren is drawn to Booki’s work:

“Booki is an author-illustrator of children’s books and her Frazzled trilogy deftly navigates real-life issues with humor, poignancy, and a relatability felt by humans of all ages. Her illustrated Frazzled quarantine diary newsletter and e-book were powerful tools for helping kids and adults process many of the experiences and resulting complex feelings of this pandemic quarantine. The way she illustrates her daily planner is also so, so fun!”

Rian Robinson

Tuesday Shop

Why Lauren is drawn to Rian’s work:

“Initially it was the color pops and bold motifs on Rian’s hand-dyed kimonos, dresses, and scarves that caught my eye, but it’s her commitment to zero-waste that really sealed the infatuation for me. Occasionally, she shares videos of her dyeing and painting process, and it’s always fascinating to get a glimpse of an artist’s operation. I personally lived in my ultra-comfy Tuesday Shop smock dress last summer and I’m eager for the weather to warm up so I can do the same this year too.”

Anya Shukla and Kathryn Lau

The Colorization Collective

Why Lauren is drawn to Anya and Kathryn’s work:

“Both artists and creatives in their own rights, Anya Shukla and Kathryn Lau founded The Colorization Collective to promote diversity in the arts by supporting teen artists of color. I continue to be impressed by the scope and breadth of the initiatives they run to highlight the work of teen artists and creatives, all while still in high school themselves.”

Credit: Evelynn Li

Credit: Anna Wang

Amanda Nguyen

Butter&

Why Lauren is drawn to Amanda’s work:

“The clean, modern design of Butter&’s cakes captured my attention when I first stumbled across the Instagram account years ago. But truly it is their “design for all” philosophy that has converted me into an ardent supporter (even if I’m not close enough to order cake!). Not only does Amanda helm a team that produces striking confections, she leads intentionally by ensuring fair wages and health insurance for her staff, design accessibility for all clients, and transparency regarding her business practices and pricing for the benefit of consumers and other business owners.”

Want to meet more creatives?

Next, explore these 10 Indigenous artists, designers, and small business owners with Destiny Seymour, owner of Indigo Arrows.

Discover Indigenous Creatives

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