Shenzhen based Chinese illustrator Ruitong Zhu recently spoke to EightSix about her work. She has been designing and embroidering for the past few years since leaving university, and creating a universe of characters and playful places.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Ruitong (Rylla) Zhu. I was born and grew up in Zhuhai. I’m currently living in Shenzhen where I work as a pattern designer for a kids clothing brand. In my spare time, I am also a freelance illustrator. In my work I like exploring different approaches when making my illustrations – apart from hand drawing, I am obsessed with embroidery art. I have been trying to use embroidery to create illustrations.
How did design influence you from an early age?
Special and colourful designs have always drawn my attention. When I was a child, I would secretly collect beautiful packaging, like candy papers, snack boxes, magazine covers etc. I loved the patterns and colours on those packages, and they motivated me to draw and create things. Even now, design still offers me a lot of inspiration.
What would say influences you the most in your designs?
For me, the source of inspirations usually stems from my surroundings and my dreams. I love animals and plants. I guess I never feel tired of drawing them. Besides, illustrators from all over the world also have a strong influence on my illustrations. Such as Jillian Tamaki, who is a very talented Canadian illustrator, and I have benefited a lot from her embroidery/textile works.
How did you become the illustrator you are today?
In 2013, I received a BA in Illustration and Comics from China Academy of Art, where they helped me to have a deeper understanding about Art and Design, and guided me to be a professional illustrator.
What work are you most proud of and why?
If I had to choose one, I think they would be Good Night because it means a lot to me! It was my first embroidered illustration and my graduation project at university. I spent a lot of time in exploring the materials, texture and structures. I regard this work as a turning point in my art.
What is your plan for the future?
What do you see as the future for Chinese design and illustration?
I believe the quality of Chinese design will become more international. Today, there are so many talented designers and illustrators in China. They are making efforts to improve Chinese Design. Even though there are still a lot of difficulties, I am sure the future for Chinese design is bright.