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Meet Hartchuu

One of our latest featured artists, meet Katie from Hartchuu. She is a UK-based artist with a talent for blending her Chinese heritage into modern, digital art. Read more about her here!

Katie's Profile Photo

Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself and who you are as an artist?

Hi, I’m Katie and I’m an illustrator/print designer. I dabble in a lot of styles but mainly work digitally with pastels and food graphics inspired by Asian cultures!

What’s your background and what is something that you’d like to share with people about your culture?

I was born in China but grew up in the UK and have had a sensitive past with my cultural background. Especially as a teenager, I felt like an outsider to both being British and Chinese and was very used to feeling lost. 

These days, I love to explore more of my cultural heritage and incorporate it into my work to share the beauty of it as well as exploring the nostalgia I feel towards my parents’ hometowns and its native foods and snacks. Even just thinking about visiting the local convenience stores in Hong Kong brings about a sentimental feeling.

How did your journey as an artist start and how has it progressed?

I grew up being the kid in class that could draw really well but my parents discouraged me from entering illustration. Somehow I ended up graduating in Fashion Design; something I found incredibly tricky (I am not good with making things physically) so I didn’t resonate with it very much. Saying it was a really hard time would be an understatement. 

In the meantime, I purchased my own ipad and began drawing digitally and revisited my love for drawing anime. During the pandemic especially, “kawaii art” and calming/cute aesthetics began trending and so I drew a lot that Summer and it was like an escapism for me. 

These days I am in my exploring phase: I do illustration, print design and embroidery designs. It’s hard being that “art kid” yet not knowing what exactly you want to do but I do know that my skills lie in the creative field and it’s something I never want to give up ever again.

Hartchuu Artwork

Who are your creative influences and why?

For fashion brands, I love Mukzin and Didu. They are all inspired by Chinese culture and give it their own modern and futuristic spin on it. 

In terms of creators I follow, I am really inspired by RainyLune, Bisoulovely, Maobaby and more. I love that they design their own products and characters and especially the friendly and supportive community that they build around them.

What sort of themes or stories do you like to tell? Or is there a specific style that you gravitate towards?

I usually go for feel-good and nostalgic inspirations like Asian foods. I am very inspired by Chinese food graphics, menus,  and “take-away merch” trends. Think about your favourite nostalgic Chinese sweet/snack and the packaging. I love the old school fonts and layout, and I guess I love maximalism and the busyness of it.

Hartchuu Artwork

Do you ever find yourself stuck for inspiration and what do you do to overcome that?

Thanks to Pinterest, I have curated many themes and inspirations for my next ideas. And I also use WGSN to see what the latest trends are (I blame Fashion for making me more business oriented sometimes) but usually I just write down anything interesting I see on my phone and revisit it later.

I don’t usually find myself stuck for inspiration, the hardest part is executing it and not getting bored/carried away during the process which I am most guilty of...

Can you talk about the artworks that you have done for Exit 9 and what your inspiration was?

I had to really think what represented Hartchuu and I came up with popular Asian desserts. It had to be pastels of course too and the puns added a cute touch. Honestly it was a really fun experience working together with Exit 9 and I am really grateful for the opportunity.

Hartchuu Artwork for Exit 9

 Where do you want to take your art journey in the future?

Art is still a journey for me, and I have a long way to go in terms of discovering what I enjoy and what I want to get better at but I still think illustration will be the forefront focus for me.

If you could give any advice to your younger self (and other aspiring artists out there), what would it be?

If you want something bad enough, just go for it and everything else will fall in place. And believe in yourself more of course.

Explore the Exit 9 X Hartchuu collection, available for a limited time only. Don't forget to also check out her Etsy store and follow her Fashion Instagram!

This interview has been edited for readability and formatting.

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