How does your cultural identity impact your creativity?

That’s the question we asked ourselves, and our incredible teachers this month, as we honor the profound contributions of the API community at Skillshare and in the creative world broadly.

Those cultural identities can serve to strengthen, inspire, educate, and challenge ourselves and the world around us. Whether it’s artistic influences from your past, the distinct flavors and delicacies that you’ll find in the pantry at your family’s house, or that hard-to-pin-down feeling of just being within your community, we are all uniquely shaped by where and who we came from. And sometimes that identity is best accessed through the simple act of making – creating something new that can speak to your own cultural legacy.

“Representation is a very important aspect of my art practice… I think it’s very important to identify who you are and where you come from, your roots or your heritage, and reflect your personality into the work that you do.”

osheen silva

Creating, making, designing, doing – these are all things that come second nature to Skillshare’s community. We also know that seeing yourself reflected in the spaces you want to see – particularly among creatives – is so important, and representation for the API community is not yet where we want it to be. We are grateful to our teachers who not only share their talents and expertise with us, but also lead the way for others to follow in their footsteps, increasing the diversity of our creative community.

This month, we want to showcase Skillshare’s API teacher community and their contributions, from photography to illustration, graphic design to typography, self-care to audio engineering, and everything in between. Teachers who make and educate from their unique and insightful perspective – shaped by culture, community, and creativity.

Explore over 60 Skillshare classes from API teachers and read on to learn more about teachers Mimi Chao, Osheen Siva, and Andrew Kung.

Teacher Spotlight: Andrew Kung, Photographer

Andrew Kung is a Brooklyn-based photographer, working to visualize the Asian-American experience and normalize beauty, belonging, and individuality within the community. His work takes on many different forms, including photography and longford, and he’s been featured on Artsy, PAPER, and CNN, to name a few.

Photographer Andrew Kung in action

“My vision as a photographer is to normalize Asian American beauty, belonging, and individuality. And that’s the core of what I create. The shoot today really stems from the emotional effects on the Asian American community given the anti-Asian racism in hate crimes here in the U.S., I really wanted to use this as an opportunity to create a fashion fine art interpretation.”

Andrew came to Skillshare through Teach Lab, a residency program that’s designed to empower on-the-rise creatives to become better teachers while earning a passive income. The program helps first-time teachers develop a Skillshare class through 1-on-1 coaching and production support.

Teacher Spotlight, Mimi Chao, Author and Illustrator

Mimi Chao is a Skillshare Top Teacher, Author, Illustrator, and mindfulness meditation teacher-in-training based in Los Angeles. Mimi pivoted her career after several successful years as a lawyer to embrace a full-time art practice and live a more creatively fulfilling life.

“An artistic path was really looked down on [in my family], I had no role models who I could relate to, no friends or relatives with a creative career. This is also before the time of social media, so I didn’t even have virtual role models, especially not anyone that looked like me. Looking back, I was really figuring out a lot of things on my own.”

Mimi’s 11 Skillshare classes (and two live classes), nearly 25,000 followers on the platform, and countless positive comments and accolades have earned her a coveted spot as a Skillshare Top Teacher. The Skillshare Top Teacher program was established to identify teachers from the broader Skillshare community who are publishing exceptional content and in turn offer them additional resources and exposure for their next classes. Top Teachers enjoy exclusive marketing as well as access to a cohort of fellow Top Teachers, with their own tools and tips for Skillshare success.

Teacher Spotlight: Osheen Siva, Multidisciplinary Artist

Osheen Siva is a multidisciplinary artist from Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Through the lens of surrealism, speculative fiction and science fiction, rooted in their Dalit and Tamil heritage, Osheen imagines new worlds of decolonized dreamscapes, futuristic oasis with mutants and monsters, building narratives of queer and feminine power. 

Artwork by Osheen Silva

“Representation is a very important aspect of my art practice as well. I think it’s very important to identify who you are and where you come from, your roots or your heritage, and reflect your personality into the work that you do. I also just happen to be part of a lot of marginalized communities, including my fellow community and the queer culture and just generally being a brown, creative in person. I love the fact that people reach out to me that belonged to my same community and I love to be able to have a conversation and relate to somebody on that deeper level.”

Explore classes from Andrew, Mimi, Osheen, and more in our curated class list.

Featured image by Mimi Chao.

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