Where Can You Find Horse-riding, Kimono-clad Pedestrians? - Interview with Jcchr
Thai illustrator Jcchr may be known for her whimsical flower-animal hybrid characters, but who would have thought her illustrated journey began from imitating Japanese cartoon drawings? She took her passion for Japanese culture to the next level by settling in Kyoto, a city where horse-riding and kimono-clad pedestrians are part of the everyday scene. Living among out-of-this-world traditions and awe-inspiring arts and crafts, Jcchr transforms this reality into a wonderland with imagination and sentiments in full bloom.
AWW: What inspired you to focus on flowers and animals?
Jcchr: My most significant source of inspiration is flowers. However, I want to convey my deep emotions and visualize flowers from my perspective which makes them more than just a “natural beauty”. I feel more comfortable with the surreal versions of flowers as turning reality to fantasy is an important element in my art. Flowers are lovely, and I always love adding people and animals into them — so that they interact in a surrealistic way that people have never imagined before.
AWW: What motivated you to live in Kyoto?
Jcchr: I have always been obsessed with Japan since I was a child. I love the culture, atmosphere, and unique ethos of the Japanese. I decided to follow my heart to Kyoto, as living there allows me to have a better understanding of my own passion. I chose Kyoto as it is a fantastic city which integrates both traditional and modern cultures!
In Kyoto, you can find people wearing kimonos among the crowd, or even men in traditional, ceremonial costumes riding a horse next to your bus. You can always visit a shrine on the mountain by train and find a Zen Buddhist cuisine with chrysanthemums on top. Everyday is like a mixture of reality and fantasy worlds. I enjoy every second there, it is a great experience.
AWW: Is there anything from Kyoto that you’d like to bring back to your hometown?
Jcchr: I don't want to bring anything from Kyoto back to Thailand (even though I love everything there so much!). Every place has its own merit which makes them unique. I hope Kyoto could be another home that I can always come back to whenever I desire. ☺
AWW: How does Japanese culture influence your work?
Jcchr: My mom told me that I started drawing at the age of 3 to 5 years old. My first exposure to Japanese culture was around grade 5. I used to watch Japanese TV programmes before I went to school in the early morning and Japanese anime was my favourite. I was so determined to practise drawing since then and wished to draw like all those animators. It's a pretty funny story as my ambition started from imitating Japanese cartoon drawings.
As I grew up, I was still fascinated by Japanese culture but more focused on its profound aspects, such as traditional arts, crafts and ceremonies. I am always excited when I see Japanese prints, traditional outfits, or other forms of art. All these sophisticated elements inspired me to add a touch of Japanese style in my work.
Living in Kyoto allowed me to understand the culture I am interested in more clearly and profoundly, which makes my work more sentimental as well.
AWW: Can you share an illustration that best represents your relationship with Thailand?
Jcchr: It would be the artwork I created for tea brand NO.57’s “Special Edition, Thai Flavors Collection''. I only used watercolors to convey how “Thailand” looks from my own vision. In Thailand, we love patterns and colors — you can find all these from our monasteries and craftsmanship, that’s why I’ve included maximalism and crafts from Thai culture.
AWW: How did you start your career as an illustrator in Thailand? Do you have any advice for young people who want to pursue the same profession there?
Jcchr: I started my career in the fashion industry in my 3rd year of university. I interned for Vogue Thailand and made illustrations for their digital content. After that I started another internship at Kloset Design, which is a famous fashion brand in Bangkok. I had the opportunity to create an illustration for their 2015 Spring-Summer Collection. Meanwhile, I kept on creating personal work and posted them on social media. That’s how my clients discovered me.
My advice is to trust your instinct and keep on drawing. For sure, it's hard when you get started but eventually, all your hard work will be rewarded. Follow your own steps and you will be able to discover your technique and style. You’ll also need to appreciate yourself from the bottom of your heart.
AWW: Lastly, can you share one Japanese and one Thai illustrator that you love?
Jcchr: A Japanese illustrator that I love is Yoshitaka Amano! I love how he creates his artworks using traditional techniques. The way he draws and paints is so strong and yet sentimental at the same time. And I love Thai illustrator Kamolaya. Her work is full of details and happiness while using various traditional painting techniques.
To find out more about Jcchr, please visit the artist’s IG account | @jcchr
All images provided by Jcchr.
About We Love Milk Tea Series
Since showing up on social media in 2020, #MilkTeaAlliance has been around for a while, and represents a shared love of tea drinks in Hong Kong (Milk Tea), Thailand (Iced Thai Tea) and Taiwan (Bubble Tea)! But the similarities are way more than that. Yes, people from all 3 cities love traveling and sharing their experiences, but there was also the way the youths were suddenly thrust into the world’s eyes as well. You could say that tea drinks are a powerful symbol of emotional connections and support!
This summer, we’ll be introducing the beautiful souls we met in these 3 cities. Let’s see what made their creative souls rise and shine!