In celebration of our recently launched Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book, we are featuring the six talented female artists who contributed their gifts to make these stickers come alive.
We sat down with artist and Passion Planner graphic designer Carolina He to find out the inspiration behind her designs and artwork. Find her contributions in the Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book or Sticker Packs (Version 1 and Version 2).
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into your art initially?
A: I started drawing ever since I could hold a pencil! It’s always been something that I loved doing, but not necessarily something I was good at, haha. I didn’t take many serious art classes growing up so I was more self-taught -- until I got to college. I graduated from SDSU in 2017 with a BA in Graphic Design, and I owe a lot to my art teachers and professors throughout the years. They’ve had a big impact on helping me evolve into the artist and designer I am today.
Artwork by Carolina He (2019, Digital)
How has your art evolved over time and what steps do you take to continually improve your craft?
A: I started out just enjoying drawing as a kid, which turned into graphic design as I sought to create things that would be more functional (but not forgetting the side of me that just draws for fun). I’ve had a pretty on/off relationship with drawing, especially as I got older. I think I felt pressure to improve quickly and I constantly compared myself with other artists - but all this was just me being too hard on myself! It made doing art not very fun, and I was always focused on if something I’m making is “good” or not. It sucked all the joy out of it.
I’m slowly coming to terms more with what kind of art I enjoy doing and focusing more on the things that make me happy. Working professionally as a graphic designer helps me stay focused and creative, as projects are more structured than say, a personal illustration. I’m always looking to evolve my craft by staying inspired by other artists and learning from them, as well as working with those on the creative team here at Passion Planner!
I’m also extremely grateful to my team here at Passion Planner - working with the creatives here as well as Angel (our CEO) has really pushed me to become a better designer and hone my skills for creating things that will impact other people. Lately, I’ve had the tremendous privilege of working as Passion Planner’s Lead Product Designer, so I’m unbelievably excited for all the new releases to come (wink wink)!
Where did you draw your inspiration from for your contributions to the Women’s Empowerment Sticker Book?
A: My style of graphic design has always leaned more functional with simple aesthetics. I wanted to create functional stickers that would provide encouragement for the user whenever they open their Passion Planner. A couple of my favorite pages that I designed for this book were the header stickers, which are meant to be a jumping-off point for you to write affirmations and fun goals in the Space of Infinite Possibility. I had a lot of fun coming up with these headers and concepts! Empowerment is all about hyping yourself up and making sure you are taking care of what’s important to you.
Initial concept thumbnail sketches in B&W. From here, I selected favorites and what would eventually be turned into final concepts in Adobe Illustrator.
Final Product (I love the gold foiling!)
How do you handle an art block or a creative rut?
A: It’s totally normal in any artists’ process for this to happen - it happens to me A LOT, especially with personal art. Over the years, I found that it’s important to either have a goal in mind or have the project planned out beforehand to help you along the process. I’m a lot more goal-oriented towards a finished product, and it can be frustrating to feel stuck in the process. I also tend to work on several different pieces or projects at once to keep each one fresh.
Artwork by Carolina He (2018, Pencil)
What keeps you motivated in life or what is your ‘Why?’ in life?
A: The thrill and satisfaction of making something that could have a positive impact on other people. I’m so pleased whenever I see other people putting to use something I made, whether it be a new product, an insert, or even just a sticker.
Learning new things also keeps my motivation alive, as one of life’s greatest pleasures is diving headfirst into trying something new. Though admittedly I’m a bit of a hobby-jumper, it keeps things fun and fresh!
What’s your advice for artists who are just starting out?
A: Stay hungry! Keep learning! And most of all: create a strong foundation. It’s important to explore different mediums and styles, while also aiming to identify what kind of art sparks something in you. Read up on artists that you like, follow modern artists on social media, and study how they do art. Once you have a focus (or several), it’s up to you to work backward from there to build yourself up. This means a lot of studies, doing sketches you will HATE, pieces you start and scrap, drawing 1 thing over and over and over again. Also: learning HOW to learn. I find that learning how to draw/design is somewhat different from the typical studying most people learn in school. In addition to reading and taking notes (both important), you will also need to be hands-on as possible and just put pencil to paper!
What does Women’s Empowerment mean to you?
A: Womxn’s empowerment to me means intersectional feminism and activism. Standing up for not only yourself and your own rights, but the rights of others. It’s using whatever privilege you have to uplift others and support other people - that includes transgender womxn, womxn of all races, sexual orientations, and classes. As an Asian American womxn, I am always learning more about what it means to be an ally, and what kind of impact I can do with my privilege and skillset. Always uplift and support other womxn!
Artwork by Carolina He (2019, Digital)
Where can we find more of your work?
A: Find my art on Instagram @paperlicks! :) (I’m on a bit of hiatus this year in terms of personal art so it’s currently inactive, sorry!)
My website is www.carolinahe.com