Artist Journey: Ginnie Hsu
last updated 23 March 2021
We hope the message of women empowerment and equality shared throughout the past few weeks triggers change beyond a single month. Bright has the pleasure of working with many lovely, talented, trailblazing women. Ginnie Hsu is one who has not only made her mark through whimsical art inspired by her eye for nature, but also her impactful illustrations for women-focused titles such as Lady Bird Johnson, That’s Who! published with Macmillan. Though she never believed she would be able to claim the title “illustrator”, Ginnie pursued her passion for art and is living out what was once her wildest dream. Please enjoy the wonderful Ginnie Hsu.
What led you to become an artist? How has your background influenced your career?
Drawing has always been a source of happiness for me. Every time I draw it fuels me with positive energy and offers a hiding place when things get hard. My family situation is complicated and drawing has helped me through many hardships.
When I was little my mom sent me to a drawing class and it was my favorite place. As I grew older, my family wanted me to become a pharmacist. It was then I realized I wanted to create a career out of something I loved, and persuaded my family to let me change my major to Graphic Design. I then got back to my love for drawing, but still didn’t believe I was good enough to become a full time illustrator. But now, I am and I’m so grateful for my experience with design because it shaped who I am today.
What elements specifically inspire your art? Tell us more about how you fill yourself in order to be inspired behind the pen.
I spend a lot of my free time in nature by going on walks and hikes. I live where I am surrounded by nature and many opportunities to be inspired by the outdoors. I also read a lot of poetry, find inspiration in language and reading between the lines.
Which project has been your favorite you’ve worked on during your time with Bright?
Every project is special in its own right, but The Farm that Feeds Us has been my favorite project since it’s the first book deal I got as an illustrator. I love all things farm, and learned so much from making it. I am also so excited about the new book I am working on; a poetry picture book!
What is your artistic process?
Most of the time I start with things I saw in the morning or drawing flowers, plants, or animals.
It truly just depends on how I am feeling that day. If I am not on a tight deadline, I will start with what I have in my notebook and pick an idea from it. I write and scribble in my notebook and bring it everywhere I go. It’s full of ideas I have and projects I want to start! I have so many (maybe too many) things I want to draw…like this mushroom calendar below.
In a typical picture book project, I start with research. It’s my favorite part of the process because I get to learn about the subject, environment, and the characters I am illustrating. I then begin to sketch, choose colors, and research elements for the era I am drawing. I had the best time researching the environment and styles from the 1950s for Lady Bird Johnson, That’s Who!
What is your ideal environment for creating?
I enjoy my space with a cup of coffee, tea, or some dessert. I fill it with all my antique finds, many plants and my dog by my side with my favorite music playing. I just moved into a new studio and I love it!
As you know, we are celebrating Women’s History Month! What women do you look up to? Whether it’s family, icons, or historical figures we’d love to know what women not only inspire your art, but simply build you up as a woman.
My grandmothers! Both of them inspire me to pursue my passions. One of them told me to keep drawing, and the other was always supportive of what I love to do. There was one evening when we were sitting in the living room having a conversation about the importance of being an independent and self-reliant woman. She instilled in me the significance of finding my own voice and using it to create beautiful things in the world. Even though I lost her last year, her words continue to color my life and art.
Have you illustrated any women or girls that you are specifically proud of? We’d love to know the story behind these characters, if so!
I was really lucky to illustrate a story about First Lady, Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson as well as the first female president of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino. Both of these amazing women greatly impacted and shaped world history.
As the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson helped pass the Highway Beautification act and devoted herself to make America a more beautiful country by supporting National Park conservation and founding the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center, one of my favorite places in Texas.
Corazon Aquino overcame tremendous obstacles such as coup attempts and the loss of her husband. She played a major role in the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ended the 20 year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Take a look at some of Ginnie’s published work:
From left to right: Lady Bird Johnson, That’s Who! (Macmillan), The Farm That Feeds Us (Words & Pictures), Corazon Aquino (Frances Lincoln), La magia de ballet (Editorial Bruño)
Ginnie is represented by Anne Moore Armstrong and currently is working on a new picture book with Feiwel / Macmillan and is writing her own debut story inspired by her beloved grandmother. She is studying to be an herbalist and loves nature. To work with Ginnie click here!
Thank you for reading our Artist Journey blog! Keep an eye out each month for more Artist Journeys to get to know the creatives Bright is proud to work with. Missed last month’s blog? Check out Mechal Roe!