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Hennessy stepped into Sophia Chang’s world: the multitalented artist behind the NBA illustration

She leads the life of a typical creative entrepreneur: the back-to-back appointments, the doodles on a blank piece of paper, the social obligations, early mornings, late nights. We met Sophia Chang, an artist living in the fast lane.

Sofia Cheng Main Visual

"Drawing was always a way for me to entertain myself." Talking about the trajectory of her career, from the very beginning, it’s with that sentence that Chang explains how she first developed an interest in art. “I always had a lot of energy as a child, and I would draw wherever my mom took me.” When she attended Parsons School of Design in New York, things got more serious, she homed in on illustration and began the tireless pursuit of what set her soul on fire. “What I really love to do is draw.”

Like all grownup New Yorkers, Sophia has a busy, filofaxed life, with back-to-back appointments and obligations. She arranges an event for UNDO, a health and wellness publication that she co-founded; attends a meeting for Common Ace, an online marketplace for women to have access to streetwear and that according to Chang is "all about creation and self-expression.”
There’s no doubt – her passion for all of her projects is palpable.

Sofia Cheng at her office

Sophia Chang – who has long, thick, dark hair; a hairdo that earned her the infamous ‘bun queen’ persona – is satisfied with her busy life. “I don’t like the concept of being idle. I think it’s important to continue moving. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take breaks. Because part of taking a break and relaxing, is also helping you move faster and more efficient” That’s not to say she thinks it couldn’t be improved. When asked what she would change about her world, given the chance, she smiled and said “I always have this mentality; how can you understand your own threshold? How can you continue to challenge yourself? How can we achieve more and not settle with the current? The current might work for you now but what can tomorrow bring, what can you work on now that can make your tomorrow better?”

Sofia Cheng NBA

As for the illustration that she did for Hennessy and the NBA, she points out storytelling as the driving force. “Storytelling is important when it comes to illustration – being able to share the story of Hennessy being the main spirit of the NBA and also the game of basketball in a very simple, elegant, clean design.” When asked about how the creative process went, she laughed and told us that she “got the picture and then drew over it.”

Sofia Cheng sit on her sofa

Sophia is passionate about more than just her art – she is also an advocate for gender equality in the streetwear industry. Referencing a 2014 interview with Highsnobiety in which Chang spoke on the struggles of being a woman in streetwear saying, “You’re always approached as a female first, instead of a professional.” We asked her if this is an experience she still encounters today, 7 years later and she was quick to answer: “It all comes down to how you want to be perceived and approached. If you speak and carry yourself in a professional manner, that invites people to approach you as such as well.” 

Chang’s knowledge of and love for streetwear is made obvious through the way she integrates it into her real world and every day life beyond her work. One can’t help but notice that Chang’s nook, a typical post-war high-rise, holds a wall unit that houses her many ‘statement’ trophies – her sneakers. “For me, streetwear and sneakers have always been a form of statement.” For the untrained eye, they might just come off as worn pairs but for those who know how to look, they serve as a reminder of what breaking the glass ceiling really is all about.

Sophia Chang through ‘This or That’:
Queens or Brooklyn?
Hennessy V.S or V.S.O.P?
Subway or by foot?
Streetwear or sportswear?
Typography or illustration?
Changing people’s opinion or changing your own?
"Changing your own"
Sophia or Esymai?
Entrepreneur or employee?



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