Chiang was born in Yilan County, Taiwan, and grew up in Michigan, United States.
Chiang was inspired by the original Star Wars film and the accompanying art design book. He studied industrial design at the College for Creative Studies until 1982. He later studied film production at UCLA and graduated in 1986. During his time in college, he was an illustrator and |art director| for the Daily Bruin and involved with the Association of Chinese Americans.
During the late 1980s, he worked at various production studios including Rhythm and Hues. Chiang eventually joined Industrial light & Magic as a creative director where he worked on films such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Forrest Gump (1994). In 1995, he was hired to lead Lucasfilm's art department; he was the design director for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). Afterwards, he was a production designer on Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express. Outside of film, he collaborated with author Orson Scott Card on an illustrated science-fiction book called Robota.
He founded DC Studios in 2000 with his creation, Robota, as a primary project. Along with Sparx animation Studios in Ho Chi Minh City, he created several animated shorts depicting the world of Robota in action.
In 2004, Chiang co-founded Ice Blink Studios and worked for Zemeckis on Beowulf. Ice Blink closed in 2007, becoming the core of the facility for ImageMovers Digital, a pioneering performance capture animation studio.
Chiang returned to Star Wars franchise as the concept artist for The Force Awakens as well as a production designer for Rogue One.
He still works at Industrial light & Magic on Star Wars movies such as Solo and The Rise of Skywalker. He also worked on The Mandalorian, which is his first Star Wars show.
Chiang has won numerous awards throughout his career, including an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Death Becomes Her, a BAFTA for Forrest Gump, a focus Award for his independent film Mental block, a Clio Award for his work on a Malaysian Airlines commercial and The BrandLaureate Award.