Tori Hong, illustrator and public artist, boasts work featuring bold lines, vibrant colors, and narrative that orient toward liberation.
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Hong began drawing at a young age as a form of self-expression and relationship building. Pencils, pens and colored pencils were her mediums of choice and her art was influenced by anime and manga. During her middle school years, she taught herself digital art and ran a fansite where the public could request her work. She attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in social justice, leadership and communication studies in 2014. “About a year after graduation, I sank into a depression and knew that creating art would be a part of my healing journey,” Hong shared. In 2017, she began freelancing as a visual artist. She has since worked with the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Mannschaft Magazin, and Release MN 8.
Hong said her mental health and depression was a cause for struggle prior to completion of college. “I stopped drawing in high school because I was depressed, being bullied, and in abusive relationships. It wasn’t until a year after graduation that I realized art was a part of my happiness.”
Hong didn’t refer to herself as an artist until 2017, after she began participating in and coordinating art spaces for people of color in the Twin Cities. She exhibited one of her digital drawings for the first time and the term “artist” stuck. That summer, she painted her first mural and has been working as a professional artist ever since, creating digital illustrations, pen-and-ink drawings, paintings and additional murals.
Hong is currently participating in Springboard for the Arts’ Hinge Artist Residency in the career development track through May 8. She has spent her time researching and developing a new project — an indie video game set in a Midwest winter that follows the adventures of a bunny and its friends.
Dedicated to advancements in the LGBTQ community, Hong stressed the importance of LGBTQ and transgendered artists of color telling their stories from their own perspectives in the ways they want to tell them. She believes that her project will allow her to branch into new audiences, new forms of storytelling, and additional revenue streams. She expects that the project will take up to two years to develop and launch.