Illustration January 21, 2016
by Lauren Festa
Illustration Month is our chance to highlight ADC Members who consider themselves illustrators, whether professionals, students or just really keen amateurs. The common thread is that they have a passion for drawing that just couldn’t be contained. Want to get featured? Resolve to become an ADC Member in 2016 while you sip green juices. Jasu Hu is a New York City based illustrator and ADC Member, originally from China. She studied visual communication design and illustration at Tsinghua University and MICA. Dedicating herself to print and digital media, Jasu believes illustration is the strongest solution to solve visual problems. The recipient of the New Talent Winner of AOI 2014 Awards, her works have been features in Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Association of Illustrators (UK), 3×3 Magazine, Spectrum Fantastic Art and Creative Quarterly, among others.
When did you ‘discover’ your own talent and then later, turn it into a viable working gig?
I always knew I want to draw since I was young. I drew everything I saw, everything I dreamed about and shared my emotions to others through my art. The first time I realized I want to be a professional artist instead of an amateur was back in middle school. I was inspired by many Japanese comics and wanted to be a professional comic artist by the influence of 小畑健 (Takeshi Obata),安達充 (Mitsuru Adachi), 藤原薫(Kaoru Fujiwara) at that time. I started to make my own stories and drew characters. That brought me to art school. I studied visual communication in college which opened a new door for me. There are people who share the same emotion with me through my artwork and that makes me feel I’m here in this world.
How long have you been an illustrator?
In China, I’d been freelancing illustrations since 2009, but not making a living of it until I started freelancing in the U.S. since 2015, after graduated from grad school.
I went to art school in China and in the U.S. I studied Visual Communication at Tsinghua University and MFA in illustration at MICA. But in my design program, there were a few people who loved drawing. I taught myself all the techniques through online tutorials and books and took a painting class from the fine art department.
Was a career in the arts encouraged from a young age?
At a young age, I was encouraged by comics which always had the main character pursue his or her dreams and the goal will come true. (I still believe that). And I really appreciate that my parents supported me to attend art school and always being so proud of my work, even they didn’t and still don’t really understand what I draw.
Take us through your creative process.
Like some people love singing in the bathroom, I love brainstorming during my shower time. It’s meditating and my brain starts “reorganizing” and finds the right piece in my memory palace. I love everything to be planned, but I do believe in my instinct. If it’s an article, I’ll get back to find related pictures online to see what I should include and what I love to draw. I make many pencil thumbnails sketches, then decide which one I love, and do the final sketches. Then I take a photo, get it to the computer and draw the final sketch and add colors in Photoshop. Sometimes I’ll scan some brush textures for fun and get it prepared for any digital painting.
In illustrating, what are the tools you can’t live without?
I would say my tablet and pen because I love working digitally. When I’m using traditional tools, I’ll keep my pencil everywhere because I can’t live without the soft touch.
What is one of the most exciting projects or a favorite one you’ve worked on or are working on?
The cover illustration for The New York Times Book Review about Elizabeth Strout’s newest book ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’ is the most exciting. For the first time, the art director Matt Dorfman contacted me and asking if I was available to work for him, without knowing how big of a fan I am of Strout’s stories. We were both thrilled for the wonderful kismet. I have a feeling that my art truly speaks for me and is representative of my presence.
How do you describe you aesthetic?
Emotional, conceptual, minimalist and bold.
What is the biggest challenge about being an illustrator?
Finding your own way of making art and keeping connections around you.
What do you love most about it?
It gives me the freedom to express what I want to say that I cannot say with words, and share my emotions and stories to others. For the commercial projects, I love helping people and solving their problems through visuals.
Any dream collaborations or brands you’d like to work with?
As a book lover, I’d totally love to do book jackets or more book illustrations in the future.
Where is your favorite place to go or thing to do to get inspired?
Museums, subway performances and vintage bookstores.
Any contemporary artists on your radar? (illustrators or other)
There are so many contemporary artists I love but I’m more interested in seeing what they think through their work and the relationships with their environment and culture. The artist on my radar that has influenced me the most is myself because I demand reactions.
For anyone considering illustration as a career or just something to try for curiosity sake, do you have any advice?
Trying to find connections between your “words” instead of measuring them.