When we talked about making a limited edition product and having it be a yearly tradition, we realized it could also be a way for us to support our local art community by having an artist design the label.
Since we have an amazing artist on our team already — our graphic designer Chandra Oh — we all agreed that it made sense for her to be our first featured local artist.
From the moment Chandra started working with us, we were wowed by her naturally sophisticated design aesthetic. Chandra, who studied graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design, adds hand drawn elements to many of the designs you see on our site and has a knack for creating beautiful graphics that simplify the user experience.
On The Impermanence of Doodling
Chandra and I sat down to talk about her art — the people who have inspired her, her experience studying art in Rhode Island, and the types of art that she's gravitated towards throughout her life.
She talked about her doodles — often little sketches done with markers in moments when she feels inspired or to pass the time. She goes into them without a distinct narrative in mind and often ends up throwing them away after the fact.
“Those are the drawings that people seem most drawn to, the ones that my friends ask me for prints of.”
And looking at her drawings, you can see why.
We talked about this idea of impermanence. With these drawings, Chandra gets lost in the artistic process and creates something she doesn't feel the need to hold onto. Yet for those of us who get a chance to see it, the value is so apparent.
We drew a connection to our limited edition Spring Forest Body Scrub. (The purple-haired woman you see in the above photo is the sketch that got turned into the label.) Knowing that this product wouldn't be a permanent part of our line changed our design process. It allowed us to be a little more creative and a little less planned out. We put just as much care into choosing the ingredients and testing out the scent and the feel, but after we release it, it will be gone.
When the team first saw the Spring Forest Body Scrub label, we were blown away by how perfectly it reflected the mystical beauty of spring. I asked Chandra what her inspiration for the design was.
“I wanted to personify lavender” she said of one of the essential oils in this formula. Juxtaposed with fir needle and sage (the other essential oils in this formula) lavender stands out for its purple hue and floral nature. She created a character to embody this uniqueness as well as its aromatherapeutic effects — calm, rested, and at peace.
Her Korean heritage also inspires the work that she does and the Spring Forest design in particular. With so many media influencers promoting Western standards of beauty, Chandra makes a point to embrace certain features that were once seen as undesirable in her drawings. As a child she remembers idealizing Western features and focusing on including them in her drawings. It has been a conscious process to unlearn this habit.
Art and Graphic Design
Chandra started at Rhode Island School of Design with a variety of artist interests — painting, art history, apparel, textiles. Through her studies she was able to dip into these interests before choosing to focus on graphic design.
She chose graphic designer partially for practical reasons — with online business such an integral part of our economy, graphic designers are in demand. She appreciates the importance of communication in graphic design also, because the step goes beyond the sole function of self-expression and it becomes a priority to foster a specific dialogue between designer and viewer. Good graphic design allows people to access information and find what they need seamlessly, without confusion or frustration.
Drawn to the Ugly
Something that has been consistent throughout Chandra's life as an artist is that she's drawn to the messy and unconventionally beautiful.
Female figures are often her subject and she likes drawing skin folds to emphasize a part of the body that is typically underappreciated. She even did an abstract series where she photographed herself and focused on skin folds.
“Drawing diverse body types and women has helped me appreciate my own body more,” she reflects.
One of Chandra's goals as an artist is to use her art to inspire social change or, at the very least, spark curiosity and conversation, especially with issues pertaining to women and minorities.
She says that a lot of what she does creatively is the result of how she was raised to be resourceful. She would print images in black and white to save money and incorporate the lack of color palette into the design concept. She would do collages because the materials were cheap and she could use things in her immediate vicinity.
She recalls having a school project and realizing the night before it was due that they didn't have glue at their house. Her mom and she used leftover sticky rice like glue in order to finish the project.
Sometimes, limitations can be a blessing in disguise. Chandra is motivated by assumed setbacks, as it is an opportunity to think out of the box and truly harness creativity.
From Drawing to Digital
For the Spring Forest Body Scrub label, Chandra wanted to reflect the tactile and sensual experience of using a scrub.
After she used pencil and marker to create the lavender-inspired character, she added a motif of scrubby beads amongst her colorful surroundings. She then took a photo of the drawing and vectorized it to create a mosaic, texturized look.
We couldn't be more excited about this design and hope it brings you the same amount of delight as it does for us. To see more of Chandra's work, check out her portfolio:
The Beginning of a Tradition
Every year, we'll have a new limited edition product and a new local artist to draw the label. We're so excited to be able to offer you something special and support the local artists in our area.
The Spring Forest Body Scrub is coming soon! If you want to be the first to find out when the full size is available, sign up here:
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