Illustrator Ruth Chan is one of my favorite people I follow on Instagram. Her comics deal with easier topics like dogs and curry curry balls to harder topics like sadness and race. “It’s a good way to process my thoughts,” she says. “I can say what I want to say, but also integrate a little humor, which has to be a part of life.” He also writes and illustrates children’s books. Here Ruth shares an anti-acne product that really works and how her dog saved her life …
How did you behave during the pandemic?
I live with my boyfriend and we actually did well. We’re both very happy to still have work to do, and I usually work from home and don’t actually see anyone anyway. I just bought more tracksuits and everything is fine. The hardest thing is not to see my family. They’re in Canada, and I haven’t been there in over a year. And who knows when I will see them again?
Have you developed any new hobbies?
Last summer, the real rescue activity was surfing at Rockaways. My boyfriend has been surfing for a long time, and I am deeply immersed in learning. We would go to sunrise or sunset. Today is too cold to surf, so my soul is dying again.
Surfing sounds so cool.
I follow all these Hawaiian surfers on Instagram and they are all so cold. I dread the waves and don’t like rowing, but the idea that one day I could be so cool is enough.
When did you first embark on beauty?
Growing up, the idea of beauty and femininity was not openly encouraged in my family. My mom still uses Body Shop body butter on her face, which makes me shiver! But then I have really bad acne. I was like, this is the thing I have to turn to.
What helped with your acne?
Proactive, which I started using in my twenties. I don’t like it because it’s so strong, but I’ve tried so many other things that failed. I am now on a constant journey to find the right cleanser. (Do you have a recommendation? I hope!)
What if you run away now?
If I feel a deep grain coming, I stomp Blume Meltdown. It really works to break down the grain so it doesn’t float to the surface. Disappears; it’s amazing.
What other skin care products do you like?
One thing I’ve read about for so long, but for some reason I didn’t believe it was hydrating. But since I finally started moisturizing my face, it has helped me a lot. I have a lot of acne scars, so I got dressed Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C serum in the morning. It’s crazy how much it smoothes and brightens my path. I use it at night Sunday Riley A + Retinoid Serum. It feels like you’re putting liquid gold on your face and it smells so nice. Then I use Aqua Bomb gel moisturizer. Another thing I recently realized is important is sunscreen! I use Supergoop Unscreen.
And the masks?
Oh my God! Well, I found out Enzyme mask Peter Thomas Roth on Instagram. Peel a thin mask and leave it on for about five minutes. Then you wash it and it’s like a very delicate crust. I put on all the moisturizers afterwards and I feel great. I use it twice a week in the evening.
What is your sleep routine?
I read in bed until I fall asleep.
Have you read anything good recently?
I loved it Deacon King Kong James McBride – a novel about an incident in a Brooklyn housing project. It’s brilliantly written, and there are twists and turns. I also read Why we swim Bonnie Tsui – it’s a non-fiction about how people are basically made to be in the water. What is our constant attraction to the sea or the ocean or the lakes or the rivers?
Tell me about writing and illustrating books for children.
It’s the best job in the world – it’s hard, but it’s amazing. Children’s books are this tangible art form that you connect with other people of multiple generations. They can be funny, and honest, and almost every picture book has some kind of emotional truth. I’m still pretty new to it.
What have you done before
I was into nonprofit management, and then basically my life fell apart. I was married and my husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. Afterwards, I became depressed and lost my job, and I had to move out of the apartment because I could no longer afford it. It sounds cliché, but it was one of those moments where you question your life. I was wondering, what do you want to do And I wanted to do picture books. It’s super competitive, so I gave myself a year to read, practice and see if it could work. And it worked very happily.
What helped you get through that difficult time?
My dog and cat. My dog Feta, who actually died last year, has saved my life over the past decade. He was a source of unconditional love and emotional security. Pets are not caught in the same things as humans. There were times when I cried so much that whenever I sniffed so much, Feta would come to check on me. And then go back to his bed when he saw that I was fine because he was a very good boy.
What is your makeup like today?
I don’t usually wear makeup, but when I do, I love it Glossier Boy Brow. That’s good for lazy people like me. I use Innisfree eyeliner,, corrector,, blush i mascara. It’s a Korean brand, and my friends from Hong Kong who are doing VERY makeup are telling me about them. In the end, Ilia products are fantastic – my friend got me samples for my birthday and I love them!
Speaking of birthdays, how did it feel to turn 40 recently? I had a weird freak before my 40s!!
My 40th was weird because it was last May – right in that part of the pandemic where it was, there are other things to worry about besides my age !!! So it went smoothly. Also, I DON’T FEEL like I’m 40 years old. Forty used to feel so old and I still feel like I’m in my early 30s!
What about your hair?
My hair is so thick. I love it! For the last few years, I’ve been getting digital durable products – basically, soft wave perennials native to Japan. It is much healthier than the usual permanent, because it does not destroy or dry the hair. I’ve been going to the same guy for ten years – Chris at Hair News Flushing.
I love drawings you display on Instagram about growing up in a Sino-Canadian family.
The latest ones are related to anti-Asian racism – there has obviously been this large increase in violence against Asians and it is quite disturbing. I thought about being Asian-American or Asian-Canadian and how each of us had negative experiences. I’ve been thinking about how important it is still to tell these stories, even if they’re not huge epic horror stories – but everyday things that happen. Part of why I started this series was that I wanted to share my experiences so that others could share theirs as well. I also wanted non-Asians to understand what microaggressions really mean and how they might feel. When I did first, I was super depressed for two days and didn’t understand why. It really triggered something in me – that feeling of not being seen or being assumed to be a certain type of person.
How does it feel to live in America today?
I am happy to live in New York, where it is so diverse. One thing I find interesting is the whole idea of an “exemplary minority”. As an Asian, you do well in math, and as an Asian you are quiet and kind. And 1) I’m terrible at math and I’ve always been, and people joke about it – haha, it’s so crazy, you’re Asian – and I’ve only recently been like that, which is wrong to say, why can’t I I’m bad at math like any other good or bad in math? And also 2) I’m not quiet. I have a lot to say.