Saiman Chow on maintaining freedom in your work

The illustrator, animator and designer talks about personal style, the benefits of working digitally and the ways he’s ensured his creative independence

New York-based illustrator, designer, animator and director Saiman Chow has been working in the industry for over two decades with experience in the worlds of motion graphics, advertising and design. His work is kaleidoscopic and trippy, and no idea is too bizarre or offbeat to tackle. This open approach has allowed him to work on an array of projects over the years from rebrands to TV promos, editorial illustrations to one-off animations.

As a freelance creative with an untameable imagination, Chow puts an emphasis on maintaining his independence. Whether it’s his approach, his output or who he works with, over the years Chow has learnt that by protecting his freedom it’s allowed him to make work he’s proud of. Here he discusses the various ways he preserves this creative freedom, while acknowledging the challenges that come with that.

Illustration for Google Design Labs. All images: Saiman Chow


“Honestly, I‘ve never been interested in talking about style. It’s a convenient way for others to categorise and label things. It feels artificial and forced to me,” says Chow. “In art school, there is so much emphasis on finding your own style, coming up with a brand, as if that’s the only measuring stick to find success. It’s a means to an end. And to me that is not a good mindset to cultivate longevity in a creative career.”