Winter 2018
TRY Studio Stories
Meet Angie

Name: Angie Chua of bobo design studio
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Art/Craft/Discipline: Designer and Artist specializing in two areas:

  • handcrafted bags, graphic apparel, and accessories
  • hand lettering with an emphasis on chalk art and modern calligraphy
Intro by Jennifer Arzt
Creative Polymath with Mad Design Skills
Endless curiosity put to (creative) work
Meet Angie
Santa Clara, California
A conference love story.

I first met Angie at a conference for creative makers and entrepreneurs, called Craftcation. I’m not shy but after a few days, I was feeling a bit burnt out with all the first words you have to exchange to turn a stranger into a friend at a conference. 

Nearing the end of a panel, and feeling ready for some SoCal sunshine, I looked around the room and saw Angie with her giant (the biggest one I had ever seen) iPad Pro drawing. It honestly was like in a movie… the beam of light from the tablet was like a ray of light signaling Angie out. 

Also, giant iPad and pencil. I had to know more.

So as soon as the clapping was done, I was at Angie’s table and I didn’t do all the normal human conversation pieces, and instead, I just tried not to drool on the iPad and I asked her about it. (Did I remember to introduce myself? No idea.) Without blinking an eye, she handed it to me and told me I could play.

And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Angie is like a mad scientist of creativity. Ask her about anything you’re working on and she’s able to slide right into the deep end of the pool with you and generate a zillion ideas that are so helpful you’d think she might have actually been a fly on your wall just waiting for you to ask for help.

Her ability to see all projects from a variety of angles, and with such a keen design sense, is abundantly clear in her work. The details are thoughtful and quirky. For example, she designed Nasty muscle tee and not only does it protest the state of sexism in the world but it does so by breaking the stereotype of what feminism looks like with long fingernails and diamond rings. 

Angie is as creative as she is generous and both are boundless.

You can hit her up for a one-on-one in San Jose, hire her for a custom project, and/or check out her current creations for sale in her shop

Read on
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· How did you get started working in this area? ·

I’ve been artsy and creative for as long as I can remember. I have ADHD which I partially credit for my wide spectrum of skills. I would dive incredibly deep into a new skill or craft, and then I’d get bored and move onto the next thing. Having ADHD also greatly affected me during my school years. I was a terrible student but I had the best looking notes because I would write and re-write them over and over again.  Fast forward to today, I’m now a full-time maker and lettering artist!  

· Where do you find inspiration for your work? ·

If you could look inside my head, it would look exactly like Ariel’s treasure den in The Little Mermaid. It’s a collection of random things that on the surface are completely meaningless and devoid of value- borderline hoarder-ish.  But each of those things is unique to Ariel, and sparks her imagination (fork / ”dingglehopper.” Need I say more?).  

Angie, her custom hand lettering work, bobo design wallet

I am the same way. My mind never rests. I constantly see things that are random and subconsciously store these gems in my head. Often times it's not until weeks later that I realize “the thing” I’ve subconsciously tucked away is part of a bigger “thing.”  So much of my work is just physical representations of the connections between random ideas and it all mushes together inside the hoarder's nest in my brain!


· What’s a project you’ve done that you’re proud of? ·

I love how you worded this question because I’m never “happy” with my work. I always want to do it better.  But proud? I have a lot I’ve been proud of!  


For my bags, it was a moment that happened recently. My first batch of makeup bags I made to sell was in 2008. Naturally, I sold them to friends first because the construction was iffy, and well, I didn’t have “customers” yet. Fast forward to a couple months back, I was on a trip with a friend, and she whipped out this busted, old, to hell and back, dirty makeup bag from her luggage, fully intact, and holding up like a charm. It was one of the first bags I ever made. She claimed she uses it everyday. For years I was so embarrassed and felt bad for those people who bought those early bags. I was wrong!

For my lettering, it’s a travel series I’ve started called bobo travel series. I love to travel and take photos, so I’ve created hand-lettered pieces at all the destinations I’ve been to. I’m starting to share them on social media and you can see the collection at  It has become one of my most treasured projects.

· What tools do you use? Have a favorite? ·

I live and breathe for my iPad Pro.  I do everything on it.  

But when I’m feeling more “analog” I love my Tombow Pens for lettering,  any blank notebook I can get my hands on, and of course, my Husqvarna sewing machine and serger for my all my sewing work.

· What’s your workspace like? ·

I have a home studio that is overflowing with paper, paint, pens, pencils, yarn, bolts of fabric, tools, markers, chalk, chalkboards, packaging material, final products and more. And all of it is constantly getting trampled on by my two co-workers- my dogs. I spent about 4 hours organizing my studio for this photo. It lasted all of 46 seconds.

· Favorite local spot? ·

There is this tiny understated shop in Santana Row called “Maido.”  It’s tucked away at the end, but they sell unique stationary goods and gifts, many of them originating from Japan. I always pop in thinking “Ima just take a quick peek” and can easily find myself wandering the tight aisles for like an hour or more.  The whole store is maybe 400 square feet too. They really pack it all in there!

· What music do you work to? ·

Because I have ADHD, listening to the TV, podcasts, audiobooks or music (all things which I LOVE) is really hard, because my brain won’t let me process the words I'm hearing, and the words I'm typing or reading simultaneously...  So I’ve developed a strong love for classical music. It is perfect in the background. The Beethoven and Tchaikovsky Pandora channels are my go tos.

· What have you always wanted to try? ·

I’ve always wanted to make my own ceramics, or learn glassblowing!  I can hear the eye-rolling from my husband now “I just ordered 400lbs of clay! Where can I put this?”

· Favorite inspirational quote? ·

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere" -- Carl Sagan
· What kind of projects can people try with you? ·
Angie's travel journal