Qian discovered Legacies on Twitter by having alerts for zine applications turned on.
Below are the responses from Qian Jepson’s interview with Legacies Staff:
Tell us a little about yourself. Where you were born, how do you identify yourself, and what are some things you enjoy.
I was born in Hunan, China and then adopted at 3 months by a white family and brought over to the US. I am currently 23 years old and upon deep reflection of this aspect of my identity, I see myself as a first generation Chinese immigrant. I am also nonbinary and bisexual and am quite happy with those labels as well. Other things that make me happy include the movie Pacific Rim (literally ask anyone), every dog I have and will ever meet, gouache paint which I adore to death, and electronic dance music and I am not ashamed to admit that.
Is this your first publication? If not, what are some other projects/works you’ve done?
I was in another collab project literally two weeks before it was due when I got the email saying I was going to be in Legacies. That one was for a tarot deck for Pacific Rim: Uprising called Tumultus and I illustrated The Empress. I also just completed my illustration for a Good Place zine which should get published soon depending on when this gets printed.
How did you get into illustrating or writing?
I got into drawing at a very young age, like practically since I could hold a crayon and even before that. I got really into it though when I read this book series when I was younger about faeries and magic by Tony DiTerlizzi that I still think fondly of even now. I really got in touch with how to make illustration My Thing though about two years ago when I started learning about the illustrative work of Paul Rand and other artists (illustrative and graphic) of that era.
What inspired you to contribute to the project? (Why did you want to contribute to this project?)
I think I already went over this in one of the previous questions but I largely wanted to contribute to this project for myself. There’s been a lot of personal, internal grief about my Chinese identity that I am still struggling to make peace with and being a part of this project is a really good start for me in this journey. Next is trying to teach myself Mandarin which, good luck future me!
How would you describe, or summarize, your submission?
A visual of the anguish I felt and still feel when non-Asian people and my Asian community tell me that I won’t ever be considered Chinese, as well as the draining I feel when it happens.
What was the hardest things to write/draw about? (I.e. revisiting a trauma, self-realization, etc.) In other words, did you struggle to write/draw a certain aspect?
It wasn’t too difficult. A lot of my issues with my identity is distancing myself from it, which even now I struggle with. While making the piece I did feel a discomfort because of I was openly acknowledging my Chinese American identity but I also didn’t feel quite like I was making the piece about me. It’s a little hard to explain, it was almost like I was somewhere else while making my illustration.
Why did you choose to write/illustrate your specific submission? (What was the significance of your submission?)
Definitely because the subject meant a lot to me. Not like everyone’s isn’t for them but in my personal case I really wanted to just make something about being an adoptee. It was an interesting way to purge out my old resentments of never quite measuring up to everyone’s expectation of how I should be.
What, in your opinion, were setbacks you had to face, if any, and why? (I.e. time, memory, self-righteousness, etc.)
My biggest issue was execution. I ended up painting the flats of everything I wanted but had run out of time to finish the rest traditionally so I completed the rest digitally instead. It will be my biggest regret but also a really good learning curve for me with an iPad app.
Was there anything you couldn’t address in your submission? If so, what were they?
I wanted to include more of the little things about having my identity erased but I also wanted to make my illustration broader and semi-universal for other transracial adoptees to connect with as well. Some of the little things I had to forego when making the image were family members making racist remarks about Asian people around me, being guilty for being considered more Asian than “pure” Asians by non-Asian people, and being looked down on by the Asian community for not knowing how to speak Mandarin.
What were the most important things you wanted to hit on in your submission? (What did you want to highlight?)
The indistinguishable ethnicity of the hands to show that it was Asians and non-Asians who were denying my identity, the IV line to show how both groups were putting their labels on me without my consent, and the aggressive atmosphere of the overall image which is pretty self explanatory as micro and outright racism.
What do you hope readers/people will gain from reading/seeing your work? (What do you want people to take away from your work?)
I mostly want people to understand the hurt and confusion about being a transracial adoptee that comes from a personal level as well as an external level. That yes what the people are doing to the main figure is wrong, but the main figure’s body language is also passive. I just really want people to just get a little more insight on the internal conflict of being a transracial adoptee.
What is your definition of being AsAm, if you have one?
My definition of being Asian American is if a person is ethnically from Asia which includes the parts of Western and Southern Asian. In my books, a person can be Asian American even if they are the 10th generation of their family born in America.
What does writing/illustrating for this anthology mean to you?
The opportunity to illustrate in this anthology means a lot more to me than I think I’ve let on for the people who knew I got in. I haven’t ever really accepted my Chinese identity until I went to college; largely due to the distance it put between me and my family but additionally then how it allowed me to connect with a queer Asian community that was very different from the Asian community I grew up with in my neighborhood. I was also uncertain if I would even be allowed to be in this project due to this because, being an adoptee by a white family, I was told numerous times by my fellow Asian Americans and non-Asians that I wasn’t actually Asian and I was completely ready to receive a decline email from the anthology because of this. But I think this is genuinely the first step I’ve ever taken to be actively included in a group activity that was specifically for Asian Americans. It’s also a chance for me to make up for not completing my thesis topic that I had to put aside and really make something for that subject about being a trans-racial adoptee. Last year I had tried to make my thesis about this and there was just too much that I wanted to make that I had to change my thesis topic to a more manageable subject to meet the deadline. So really, being a part of this honestly means a lot to me way beyond anything I can put into words.
What food/drink most reminds you of home/childhood? Why do you think food is so important to Asian American culture?
I honestly don’t have an answer for this due to most of the foods that I was raised with were VERY white interpreted. This is largely due to my non-Asian upbringing due to being adopted as well as my younger reluctance to accept the Chinese part of my personal identity. I will say though that I always associate my personal Chinese identity with Mooncakes. (Which I don’t even like!) When I was little, my mom would read me this book about a Chinese girl who never did as she was told and was considered “naughty” and essentially was punished for this really, really drastically during the Moon Festival. (It’s great reading material for a six year old I promise.) Two things always stuck out the most for me even now about the plot and that was that 1.) the girl was replaced in her family with a better, more behaved girl and 2.) that the Moon Goddess that the girl looked up to and was excited to meet turned out to be a man in the garb of the Moon Goddess for a play. As an adult looking back on the book, I can understand why these things stuck with me for so long but now I can only ever associate my Chinese identity with a seasonal treat that I don’t even enjoy.