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Jasu Hu

Jasu Hu

Meet New York-based illustrator, Jasu Hu.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Jasu! I was born in a small city in south-central China. I loved drawing since I was a kid and worked as an illustrator in China for 6 years while studying Visual Communication at Tsinghua University (Beijing). After finishing my MFA in Illustration at MICA (USA), I moved to NYC, living and working as a freelance illustrator. I draw to express my emotions. I creating atmospheric, emotional and conceptual illustrations for editorials, advertisings, and publications. I’ve illustrated more than 30 covers for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and won awards like an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary. My MTA poster “Moonlight Moment” has been displaying in subway platforms and buses throughout New York in 2018. In my spare time, I love listening to 80s Japanese city pop music, watching animes, eating ramen, and researching weird buildings.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

NYC is the most dynamic, creative and challenging city. As an artist who seeks challenges and evolves, this is the right place to grow. It’s one of the hardest cities to live but I felt it gives me more growth and inspiration than the chaos once I figured out what I want to do and want to be. I enjoyed inspiring by its diversity constantly.

 

As an artist who seeks challenges and evolves, this is the right place to grow.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The worst thing is 1.Living expenses. 2. Stress.

 

The best thing is 1.Constantly refreshed and inspired. You see things differently and start growing as a strong, passionate and empathetic person. 2. The illustration industry and community.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Challenging, Hard-working, Evolving.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I’ve always been obsessed with drawing since I was a kid. It was my favorite thing to express emotions and feelings when I’m alone. I wanted to become a professional artist so I decided to go to art school and developed my skills and techniques during high school and college. In college, I was constantly posting my work online and got approached by many Chinese magazines, young adult books, and game developers. I realized I’ve been doing all illustrations and decided to pursue it as my future career. I wanted to know more about “professional freelance illustrator” so I went to art grad school in the U.S, developing my voices and slowly starting my career in New York after graduation by making connections, doing internships at publishing houses, sending emails to art directors, etc. I started getting a few commissions, not too often but I do appreciate every job I had, working hard to reach the best I could. I was approached by my agency through a client’s recommendation and worked on my visa to stay in the U.S. It wasn’t until the 2nd year of freelancing I could finally get the busy workflow working with major newspapers, magazines, ad agencies, book publishing houses, and public institutions.

 

I’ve always been obsessed with drawing since I was a kid. It was my favorite thing to express emotions and feelings when I’m alone.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

I’m the only child in my family. My parents are not creative related but very open and always supportive of my goals. In China, becoming an artist is a big decision because going to art school is hard, risky and expensive. We need to take extremely competitive art exams and mostly, training a whole year for preparing art techniques when taking the exams. The training school is like a military school but in art. Waking up at 6 am, start drawing from 7 am to 10 pm and sometimes late extra practice until midnight. The school gate is always locked on weekdays so parents can only visit during weekends. My mom was worried about my health so she handed me homemade food through the bars of the gate every day. That’s what I know about how much they care about me when I want to be an artist and it supports me all the time through art college, the decision of going to the U.S and surviving in New York working as a freelance illustrator.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I hope to experiment more and more new things in my future work, trying new mediums, and collaborating with more fun opportunities!

 

I hope to experiment more and more new things in my future work, trying new mediums, and collaborating with more fun opportunities!

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

I haven’t thought about this question and couldn’t think of anyone right now. I’m open to collaborating with any fun opportunities!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Strong, hard-working and confident. I thought of my mom immediately, and all my favorite female friends around me. I like being around with women who are confident but also fun, authentic and kind-hearted.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

When I was in middle school and high school I looked up many Chinese and Japanese illustrators and manga artists who are females (such as CLAMP, Hiromu Arakawa, Kazuya Minekura, so many to name!). I would just collect the art I loved and pasted on my diary, and absorbing techniques I learned from them through drawing every day. My local town is pretty small so I’ve never met an artist or illustrator when I grew up. But I remember reading the manga magazine and saw this young Chinese female comic artist Xia Da who’s from the same province as me. I got excited knowing someone from my local place can become a professional comic artist, which made a dream feels more realistic to pursue.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

In the illustration industry, I think the level of work you produce matters the most. The challenging aspects depend on different people. For me, growing up in a traditional Chinese family, I’ve always taught by parents and teachers, “Woman should be nice and polite”. Sometimes my kind impulses of not saying “no” gives me stress and anxiety. I found working in the U.S challenged me to say “no” to things I don’t want, and stand for myself when faced with unfairness. Setting clear and firm boundaries in work is challenging but an important lesson I’ve learned.

 

Keep creating, creating, and creating. The rest will follow.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Find your goal and make it into small steps to accomplish.

Keep creating, creating, and creating. The rest will follow.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Jasu Hu.

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