Hanami, thank you for taking the time for this interview! Your moniker Hanami (the name of the Japanese cherry-blossom festival) plays on your penchant for Japanese traditions and art. What significance do Japan and its traditions have for you?
The most impressive thing about the cherry blossom festival is about those fantastic colours. I love the shades of pink as I mainly use pastel tones in my designs. Like in my Collage Sushi and Monster Sweets. I love Japanese traditions and above all the Japanese cuisine, which can be seen in designs like Sushi Love or Dango. It is a great dream of mine to go there one day and experience the culture.
In my childhood I’d devour manga and anime movies like Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. I especially like the unusual and trendy style of the clothes, accessories and hairstyles in Asia. Here it’s quite hard to find clothes in the cute Japanese style, which is a bit of a pity. This is why I enjoy bringing the spirit to life in my own designs.
Another Japanese trend – Kawaii – the emphasis is on the cute and childlike. What made you pick up on this style? What fascinates you?
These designs are so much fun as they are so light and untroubled. It’s easy to get lost in creating so many colours and small details. They’re a nice change to my other illustrations, you just get lost in the flow. Everything can be Kawaii!
How do you keep the child in you alive? Could our culture need more fun, play and kids’ stuff?
I recently read a study on this subject saying that adults laugh 15 to 20 times a day on average, and your average child about 400 times. Is not that a pity?
I think we have more fun in life if we stick to some childlike qualities. For example, children are curious and unprejudiced, and they live in the here and now without permanently mulling over the past or future. I try to give free range to my inner child, and then I end up in a cinema full of children at the latest Disney premiere, being a 24 and all.
You work as a media designer on a freelance basis. What attracts you about illustrations?
Illustration is a lot of fun, but also a way to earn money, of course. I always tend to look forward to take up a brush and get started with painting in the evening. So I often think of how great it would be to be able to live on my craft. But today – thanks to platforms such as Spreadshirt or even DaWanda, Etsy and YouTube – you have so many opportunities for self-actualisation and making money with it.
Still, working more analogously is very appealing to me. You can just take a pen and paper and scribble in your sketchbook. As a media designer, this aspect often gets lost since you spend a lot of the time on the computer. It would be great, of course, if I could sell my original analogue works.
In your Instagram profile, we can see many rough paper drawings, and in your blog you write about your penchant for the Apple Pencil. How do your analogue and digital paintings interplay?
Digital work is a staple of my profession, so it’s all the more fun to work in analogue mode. But it can be tedious to rework these images so that they look good on a T-shirt or other products. So I make use of digital resources e.g. for the stuff I do for Spreadshirt.
The Apple Pencil comes close to a combination of both, so I have been working on the computer for digital work for about half a year now. There is this great app allowing you to use the iPad as a second monitor. So I have full access to Photoshop andIllustrator with the Apple Pencil. It works a treat and almost feels like drawing on paper.
What image comes to mind when you think of your customers? How important are social networks for you?
Social media are important, no doubt about that. On my blog, I can share my experiences and write about things that may help others. Exchanging experiences e.g. on Facebook and Instagram is particularly important in this industry.
I myself love browsing Instagram and YouTube and watching the work and tutorial videos other artists provide – you can learn a lot this way.
How did you find out about Spreadshirt, and what’s there to like?
I bought a few things as a gift at Spreadshirt two years ago. Not only print your own designs, but also offer them for sale. I think this concept is just awesome! There are no costs involved for you, and you don’t need to worry about things like production etc. The printing quality is really good as well. I remember exactly how much I enjoyed my first sale!
What tips and tricks do you have for designers who would like to try the Kawaii style?
The most important thing is the face. The size and the distance between the eyes, nose and mouth play a big role and can change the whole expression. For example, it usually looks strange when the eyes are too close together. Sometimes it is also helpful to draw a thing several times and to experiment with different facial expressions or bright colours and pastel tones.
Thank you very much for this great interview, and lots of success with your shop in the future!
Did you like this interview with Hanami? Have you already gathered experiences with Kawaii or similar styles? We are looking forward to your comments.