I am a little starstruck by this opportunity to ask Charuca Vargas, my favourite Kawaii artist, questions about cute. She was my first introduction to my fascination with Kawaii and of course I have so much to ask her about. To those who have never heard of this great kawaii artist and illustrator, here is a short introduction:
© Charuca Legion: We are your Friends
Spanish illustrator Charcuca Vargas is the mother of these cute characters and this amazing vector universe. She has created characters such as “Kawaii” and “Gothic” and later “Baby” and “Toxic”. Her impressive portfolio includes collaborations with Sanrio and graphic artist Catalina Etsrada and a book publication about famous Kawaii artists.
© Charuca I Love Kawaii 2008
Here is my interview with Charuca:
First I would like to ask you about the facts such as formal education, current project / exhibition?
My education in the world of graphic and character design has been largely self-taught. Most of my learning has been experienced in the world of design and illustration until I found my own language. At the moment I dedicate 100% of my time developing the Charuca Universe. I have a studio/lab in Barcelona, where we shape the Charuquil Universe. We do character design and product application. Recently we are also shaping the Charuca’s magazine No. 1… with comics and lots of surprises!!!
Foto of my book “I love Kawaii” by Charuca from 2010
I would like to know if you can remember when and how you were introduced to Kawaii and what it ment to you at the time?
I have always felt the Kawaii inside me. I grew up in a small town where there is not much influence of the Japanese culture. The only references were some cartoons like “Little Memole” and some merchandising from Sanrio…Furthermore, I enjoyed drawing big-headed characters, my big love were dolls and stationery. I was constantly drawing characters. Thanks to the Internet, I could peek into a world where I felt very identified, but the seed was already there.
Do you think of the Kawaii movement as a new artform which in the future will have its own place in art history?
Yes I think there is a Kawaii movement, it is already here, which includes major artists from many countries. I think that leaving an imprint on art history will be a function of artists like Takashi Murakami, who are taking the Kawaii to another level, bringing their work to MOMA and Louvre museums.
I have met people who think of kawaii art as a kind of superficial way of viewing the world. Personally I think everyone needs something to smile about, but can you understand the scepticism of these art critics?
I can understand that not all people get to feel what the Kawaii can awaken in some persons. I do not think Kawaii is a more superficial art form than others. Art is art from the time that it touches your sensitivity, and Kawaii awakes internal feelings. I do not think that positive images are more frivolous and superficial than negative ones. Joy and sadness came from the same depth of the soul.
© Charuca Kawaii Porn 2008
If you could design anything and budget wasn´t an issue what would you like to create?
I would work in Charuca products and designs without worry for a moment of cost. I would use all qualities I wanted, I would create wonderful accessories and would open Charuca shops, online and physical stores as well. I would do the same as now but as big as possible.
I would like to know how you work (do you have to have coffee, music on, or do you have a ritual you have to do in order to be able to create)?
At the beginning, I worked alone in a room of my apartment that I enabled as an studio. A year ago I moved to a studio in the center of Barcelona. It’s really spacious and luminous where creativity flows easily. In addition, also a year ago I stopped working alone, I have an assistant, Miriam Alvarez, who understands me perfectly and who had helped me to bring beyond Charuca World. Every day we come to the studio, I play music (always music, I can not work in silence) and we spent the day playing with the characters. All I need to work is to feel happy and relaxed. I take good care of the working environment in the study…
Is there someone or something you think the world should know about (an artist, musik, designer, book, food, a favourite place; anything, )
I think it is important to travel, experience other cultures, other countries. Walk out to the world and do things, each one what stimulates oneself. All Kawaii lovers should visit Japan, which is the cradle of this aesthetic trend.
© Catalina Estrada & Charuca – Forever Love 2010
You show a great sense of humour in your figures, for instance the “sugar kills” figure. What do you wish to communicate with this type of message?
My main message is “Do not take life too seriously”. We live immersed in a stressful culture that can make us worried or sad. Some people work in places they hate to earn money to buy things they do not need … My work wants to help people to stop worrying and start enjoying the beautiful things of life . Time passes, laugh, have fun, do what you like to do and do not take anything too seriously. It’s not worth it!
Do you do scetches by hand or mainly on the computer? (I would love to show some scetches of your work)
Yes… we never draw directly on the screen. Pencil and paper allow a fluency and a connection to the subconscious that it is hard to get drawing directly on the screen. Our process always begins with paper and pencil.
Is there a project or a designer you dream of working with?
There are many dreamt projects, but I would rather not talk about them because I am bit superstitious and I think it is better not telling dreams…if you do, they will not become true ;)
Thank you Charuca for letting me use your beautiful inspiring illustrations and for the interview :D