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Kat J. Weiss

Kat J. Weiss

Meet illustrator and designer from Hong Kong, Kat J. Weiss.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am German-Thai-Chinese, born and raised in Hong Kong. I went to a German school, studied illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and lived for a while in New York. I am back in Hong Kong now and plan to move to Germany very soon. I’ve loved drawing since I was a little kid and pretty much always knew I wanted to pursue a creative job. My illustration style is cute and sassy, pattern-like and dreamy. I draw sophisticated, fashion-y things, and also very innocent and silly things (but always with a dark side). I am best known for my BAO shirts, which I hand-print in my home studio and sell online and at craft markets.

 

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

Hong Kong is gritty, botanical, hectic, efficiency-minded, and stubbornly old-school. I’m comfortable here.

 

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

The best thing is that it’s very “city-like” in the traditional sense of the word, but also has lots of nature growing inside of and surrounding it. The worst is that I feel very disconnected from local culture and have almost no sense of belonging, due to my very isolated and privileged upbringing.

 

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

Uncharted, exciting, frustrating

 

How did you start your career in art?

In a nutshell, between 2014 (when I obtained my illustration degree) and now, I made an array of choices, both alternately and simultaneously, and in no particular order: I interned, worked both full-time and part-time as a graphic designer, tried to freelance and failed (twice), waitressed, tutored English, promoted and expanded on my portfolio, did my best to continue learning and growing, started a Youtube channel, beefed up my social media presence, started making my own merchandise instead of always offering my services to others, sold on Etsy and at local craft markets, and searched frantically (both online and IRL) for freelance illustration and graphic design opportunities whenever possible. Things only really started taking off recently, with more people recognizing my work and hiring me for jobs. I work mainly as a freelancer now and am gradually reaching my goal income. I say all this to demonstrate that it really takes time to build a professional portfolio, reputation, and thriving creative career. I’ve also learned not to rely on others to make things happen for me, but also to allow others to help when I need it.

 

I say all this to demonstrate that it really takes time to build a professional portfolio, reputation, and thriving creative career.

 

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

Yes, and like other parents, mine just want me to work hard and have a sustainable income.

 

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

WhatsApp stickers. An e-book on illustration. A solo show. An illustration series talking about issues I care about, like the environment, social equity, and plant-based eating. More designs for my online store, when I’m ready. Just continuing being a creative freelancer and content creator, working with the ebb and flow that comes with freelance life and kicking ass at it.

 

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

I’d love to paint a wall with Fafi, my teenage hero.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Loud and unapologetic.

 

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

Unfortunately, at that time, no. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. I’m fiercely proud to share a home with Victo Ngai, Bao & Little Thunder.

 

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

For me, personally, the challenges come from within (which probably have something to do with how the world views female creatives). I have trouble valuing my work and recognizing what it’s worth, asking to get paid a fair price. I’m way too polite, the way I’ve been conditioned to behave. I’m trying to change that.

 

I have trouble valuing my work and recognizing what it’s worth, asking to get paid a fair price. I’m way too polite, the way I’ve been conditioned to behave. I’m trying to change that.

 

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

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. So ask. Ask for help if you need it, even if you think you might not get it, or like others may judge you for it. People will always judge you for anything, but so long as you are not hurting or taking advantage of others, you have nothing to apologize for. The idea that you have to do everything on your own is a lie, and besides, you never know who might want to help you.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Kat J. Weiss.

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