When pigs fly: Chikuhodo x Mochichito
March 16, 2019
Apologies for the back to back artist collaboration posts. I was hoping to have a February recap in between but work has been sapping my spirit even more so than usual, so I ended up abandoning Curator's Corner last month. I don't think you'll mind too much though, once you see the positively amazing porcine-themed brush from Chikuhodo, who teamed up with illustrator/graphic designer Mochichito (a.k.a. Steph Fung) to celebrate the Chinese New Year. You might remember how smitten I was with Chikuhodo's Moon Rabbit brush, so as soon as I saw this one I knew I had to add it to the menagerie. If I remember I'll try to update this post with comparison shots to that brush so that those of you who actually intend on using it can see how the size and shape compare. I will say that as with the Moon Rabbit brush, the quality of the bristles of the Mochichito one appears impeccable - super soft and fluffy.
The detailing and craftsmanship are simply stunning. The handle has a scene depicting two piglets resting on fluffy silver clouds and a gold crescent moon, while silver and pink cherry blossoms bloom behind them.
Naturally I had to take tons of close-up shots so you can appreciate the beauty, but I'm not sure if they do it justice...it's much more charming than my pictures were able to capture.
As with the Moon Rabbit brush, there's a touch of iridescence on the silver portion.
Just when you think they couldn't possibly get any cuter, Mochichito ratchets up the adorable factor by giving the piggies tiny silver dimples.
So who is the woman behind all this preciousness? Fortunately I didn't have to do much digging, as Beautylish has a brief but informative interview with the artist posted online. Mochichito is the brainchild of Steph Fung, a graphic designer who began focusing more on her illustrative pursuits several years ago. Fung earned her BFA in Digital Media from Otis College of Art and Design in 2011. While she is an accomplished designer, the Mochichito project allows her to indulge her love of anything kawaii and handmade crafts. A lifetime doodler - "I loved drawing in notebooks when I should have been taking notes," she says - the Mochichito brand is a natural progression of Fung's passion for illustration. Interestingly, Fung is primarily a digital artist, i.e. what you see is not made by hand on paper and then translated into a digital format - her illustrations are originally drawn on a screen. Adobe Illustrator is her favorite tool, as she claims she's "never been very good at traditional mediums." I find this fascinating since I believed it would actually be much more difficult to be creative with digital illustration techniques given their limitations, but the ingenuity displayed in Mochichito shows that if you're a true artist, the medium doesn't matter - you'll find a way to uniquely express your vision.
Fung's subject matter consists largely of animals and flowers, with some playful critters that don't actually exist in nature. Yes, there are mermaids! She explains: "I would probably describe my style as kawaii cute! I always try to have fun with word play or convey a fun idea or concept in my art. I love bright colors (but also pastel), animals, and cute faces (is that weird?)". Nope, not at all!
Fung finds inspiration in a variety of places. "I’m very much influenced by anime, stationery and lovely packaging, fashion, music, and other people’s art—there is so much to see at your fingertips these days." Indeed, Fung is mindful of what her fellow artists are up to, and seems to enjoy participating in 100 day Instagram challenges with them. My favorite are these cheeky illustrations she completed for #100daysoflittledudes, which also show her aforementioned love of word play.
The Mochichito store offers an array of stickers, pins, and more recently, acrylic toys based on the illustrations Fung created for the "100 days of tiny terrariums" Instagram challenge. I hope to see stationery or even stuffed animals some day!
Speaking of which, I think another reason Mochichito's work resonates with me so much is the fact that she has a stuffed teddy named Little Bear that accompanies her on her travels.
As for the Beautylish collab, previously Mochichito was responsible for designing the store's Lucky Bags, which are essentially Japanese fukubukuro - a custom for the new year where bags are filled with mystery contents offered at a much lower price than if you purchased them individually. For example, a $75 Beautylish Lucky Bag typically has full size items worth $150 or or more. In 2018 Fung took inspiration from the Japanese legend of the Seven Lucky Gods who are said to grant good luck (shown top to bottom, left to right in the illustration below): Bishamonten, Daikokoten, Hotei, Benzaiten, Ebisu, Jurojin, and Fukurokuju.
This year, Beautylish tapped Fung again to come up with an illustration for a Chikuhodo brush to celebrate the lunar new year. Fung shares the creative process behind the adorable end result: "Since the design was for the Lunar New Year, I knew I wanted to include a moon. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, so I thought making a large, gleaming moon as the pigs' playground would be so cute. Incorporating some floral elements into the design would add some soft, delicate touches to frame the scene. The story behind the design is really up to the viewer! I wanted to keep it kind of open-ended. You could think of the pigs as two lovers, a mama or papa pig and their piglet, or just two frolicking friends."
It was Fung's first time designing a brush handle, and I think she translated the design to suit the handle beautifully. "It was definitely different from anything I’ve worked on in the past. I had to keep in mind the shape and curvature of the brush and make sure all of the important parts of the artwork would be seen from the front of the brush, but also how I might continue the artwork around the sides and back of the brush, while also keeping in mind how it would photograph." I agree that you have to think differently about how an illustration would work in 3D versus on a flat surface, and Fung executed it perfectly.
Overall, obviously I'm in love with this brush and all of Mochichito's work. Art with a more serious style or message is great, but sometimes your eyes and brain just need cute things. And it could be because I've just discovered it and have been watching it nonstop, but Mochichito's characters remind me so much of those from Adventure Time, a truly whimsical kids' cartoon that I can't seem to get enough of lately. There's just something so comforting about cuteness! As for Chikuhodo, the designs on their brush handles tend to be more elegant and sophisticated, so going the kawaii route was a refreshing change of pace.
What do you think of this brush and Mochichito?