Dive into the colourful world of queer Asian artist Min Ngo!  From reconnecting with their passion through identity exploration to spreading joy with cute merch and fan art, their journey is inspiring. Join us in listening to their story!

Finding pride through art: amplifying 2SLGBTQ+ and Asian representation

Can you tell us about your journey as a queer Asian artist and how your identity has influenced your art?

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved art – especially in terms of drawing. I got a lot of inspiration from my older sister, who at the time loved drawing in an anime style.

I continued to really enjoy drawing! I had a moment in middle school when I even delved into digital art – but then fell off of it as I grew older. Into high school, I explored motion graphics and creating fandom video edits. Around this time was when I started questioning my sexual and gender identity, too. I found myself comfortable expressing my newfound queerness into my video edits, which often depicted queer relationships and characters. Then, again, I fell off making fan edits as the years went on.

I think what helped me return to my passion for art was connecting with who I was – not just as a queer person, but also an Asian person. I have to give a lot of credit to ACAS, which stands for the Asian Community AIDS Services. They have this program called Queer and Trans Asian Youth. When I was in Grade 12, I saw an Instagram post promoting this program and I thought, “Oh, I think I’ll join this.”

I think that was the first time that I really connected with my intersectional identity as a queer and Asian person. Through this program and talking with other queer Asian youth, we did a lot of artistic and spiritually connecting activities that helped me foster a deeper connection to my art.

Can you explain the inspiration behind your shop name, SquishLamb?

So this has a cute backstory. First I’ll explain the “lamb” part: my sister and I really love sheep, and this comes from when I was 10 or 11.

We bought this stuffed toy sheep from Winners, whom we named Baabaa. My sister really brought it to life, giving it (him!) a personality and all. He was my favourite toy, and even to this day he has a huge place in my heart! So the lamb part is really representative of the bond I have with my sister and the memories we had growing up.

And then the “squish” part is just because it’s cute.  I like squishing squishy things. 

It’s also related to my personal Instagram, which I named chuulamb for similar reasons – the “lamb” being related to Baabaa and “chuu” just because that was cute. So when I created my shop name, I thought, let’s make it match chuulamb but switch it up a bit.

In what ways do you use your art to advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ representation or Asian representation?

Currently, I’m doing a little side gig with ACAS where I’m helping create cover art for a podcast they have, called Tangled Threads. I’ve been working with another artist on that – every month we switch who creates the cover. That has been a very fun and fulfilling experience for me to create art based on different queer Asian people in the community.

Other than that, personally, I love making fanart. One of the things I really enjoy making fanart of are series that have healthy, wholesome depictions of queer characters. In particular, I’ve done a lot of Heartstopper and The Owl House fanart. And both are series that are aimed at teenagers or even children. Yet as an adult, watching this, it’s very healing for my inner child. It’s what I wish I was able to watch when I was growing up.

Also, I’ve created some merch of pride sheep that’s pretty on-brand for squishlamb. I’ve also done some Asian-specific stickers for Lunar New Year. For these sorts of product designs, I wanted to create them for people in the queer and/or Asian communities. Just a little knickknack they can get if it sparks them joy. It’s very healing when I get orders and people say, “I’ve been looking for something like this,” or “Your art is so cute, thank you!” It’s super fulfilling to see how my art can have that sort of impact.

Via Squishlamb

Have you faced any challenges or obstacles in your career as a queer Asian artist and how did you overcome them?

What is the role of community and safe spaces played in nurturing your growth and understanding of your identity and your artistic growth?

Going to community organizations and school clubs really created these safer spaces that helped me become more confident in who I am. Sometimes it’s listening to other people’s stories, which can be similar to my experiences as a queer Asian person. It’s inspiring. And other times it’s simply connecting with other people whom you know will not judge you for your queerness or Asianness. It’s fulfilling because I feel like there’s a part of myself that I can just let go and be free. In contrast, if I’m with folks who might not be queer-accepting or culturally aware of my ethnic roots, I might feel restricted in the way that I express myself. 

Thanks to these community experiences, I’ve definitely grown more confident in who I am. I’m no longer shy or feel like I can’t mention that I’m bisexual or non-binary. I think that knowing there will always be other people who will accept me for who I am is a big thing I learned from these community spaces. 

And, we sometimes feel the need to always advocate for who we are and our community and that can be quite taxing. It can be emotionally draining if that’s the only thing you’re focusing on, and so these spaces have really taught me that it’s okay to rest. Get back to advocacy when you are ready and energized.

Who inspires you in the queer Asian community? And are there any artists you'd like to give a shout out to or highlight?

I think back to ACAS again. They really helped me recognize my queer and Asian intersectional identity. There are a number of folks I can name, but I’ll just shout out Dany, who manages a lot of programming and creates lovely artwork. I especially had a wonderful time working with them a few years back and they’re super duper nice!

In terms of pop culture, I’ll have to mention queen Rina Sawayama. My favourite queer anthems by her are the unapologetic “This Hell” and the heartwarming “Chosen Family”.

What advice would you give to aspiring queer artists who might be struggling to find their voice or navigate their identity through art?

How do you see the role of art in promoting inclusivity and acceptance of diverse identities, particularly within, the 2SLGBTQ plus and Asian communities?

What’s really amazing about art is all the stories that you can put into it. And in so many different forms too: writing, visual, performance, or anything else. And, I feel that, by representing diverse stories, it helps all sorts of audiences, whether you’re queer and Asian or not.

Earlier, I mentioned Heartstopper and The Owl House so let’s dive into that.

In terms of Heartstopper, it’s specifically about the queer coming-of-age experience. It’s truly a passion project created by queer people targeted at a queer audience. Fans find comfort in reading or watching shared queer experiences being told through someone else. When I first read and watched this series, I felt included. Like, the character Nick went through the whole bisexual awakening thing, just like me!

As for The Owl House, it’s a Disney cartoon involving magic and friendship. Maybe a kid casually wants to watch a new show, and decides on The Owl House. Through watching this series, the child sees representation of queer romance and gender diverse characters. And it’s not that the show was particularly written to be about the queer experience. It’s just a part of the story naturally. It really communicates that all of this is normal. It’s normal to be a queer person! And I could say the same for my Asianness – I feel better connected to my Asian identity when I see it being represented and promoted in the art around me.

What has it been like being able to run your own shop selling your art and like queer art and Asian art?

It’s been really, really fun. It’s something that I really wanted to do for a while as an artist. And when I finally took the leap in 2021, I started buying a bunch of startup products like a new printer, cutting machine, sticker paper – things like that.

I was very excited. And now that the shop is running and I get orders here and there, it’s super fulfilling. As I mentioned earlier, it’s especially lovely when I get orders and people tell me they’ve been looking for something like this.

For instance, my pride sheep designs are subtle. They’re drawings of sheep, but in the colour palettes of different pride flags. So it’s not very outright – it’s moreso, “if you know, you know”.

Sometimes I have customers who leave notes saying, “I’ve been looking for something that’s subtle so my parents don’t find out, but still helps me feel connected to who I really am”. It feels fulfilling that I’m able to make a little sticker with that impact, creating a safer space for them to feel confident in who they are.

What advice would you give to queer Asian youth right now?

About Min

Hi! I’m Min (she/they), a motion designer, graphic designer, and illustrator who loves all things magical and cute. Squishlamb is one of my dreams come true, a little sticker shop where I’m free to design whatever brings me joy (a lot of the times, that involves drawing cute animals). Beyond my entrepreneurial biz, I value making the world a better place. Having worked with numerous social ventures, I love combining community care with art!



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