'Live well & eat well': Chang Chih on her deliciously warm and nostalgic illustrations
Taichung-based illustrator creates homely works Inspired by her family, the food her mother used to make, and even the daily weather.
Chang Chih has only been illustrating for less than a year, but her finely refined style proves otherwise. Mature and consistent, Chang has developed an aesthetic that gives off the allusion that she's been working in the medium for decades. Perhaps this is down to the fact that she's always been interested in putting pen to paper, having drawn since a young age while growing up in Taiwan City. Thereon, she studied graphic design and started working as a clothing designer after graduating. "But I always loved to draw," she says, "so I built up a second career as a freelance illustrator." Eventually, she started working full-time as a freelancer, producing the tonally rich and palatable works we're viewing today.
Throughout her portfolio, you'll stumble across a few reoccurring motifs – antiques and nostalgic items in particular, "especially the Japanese antiques and secondhand articles such as kitchen utensils, tableware and everyday necessities," she explains. Otherwise, Chang is greatly inspired by the "strong intimate connection among every Asian family," she continues. "Take me as an example. My illustrations related to cooking recipes are actually influenced by my mother. She's a wonderful chef, and I try to imitate what a delicate feast will look like."
So, upon observing her works – especially the food pieces – you can't help but imagine Chang and her family sitting down to enjoy the meal. Breakfast bagels with delicious fillings; a mouth-watering curry; a tomato dish; or even some cakes; whatever she's cooking up in her illustrations, be sure her mother would have made it even tastier.
Paired with the rustic looking carpentry of the old furniture featured in her scenes, Chang's illustrations give off a warm sense of the familiar. "The desire that I could not own the Japanese antiques and the memory of my mother's cooking recipes have rooted in me, lingering with a strong passion that I need to draw them."
To achieve this nostalgic effect, Chang uses a mix of Procreate and Photoshop, during which she splashes her work with the wooden texture and decorates them in warm colour palettes. Her subject matter tends to be highly detailed, varying from the cooking dishes she ate recently, the "daily mood", or even the weather she experienced that day. In a piece named Winter Kitchen, Chang has brought all these components to life in a fine-tuned interior piece. "My relatives and I used to play together around the kitchen at my aunt's house sometimes in the winter," she recalls. "There was a time when everyone discussed what they disliked the most about meals. I remember I said that I hate the egg dishes the most. But I guess people change when they get older. It turns out that my favourite food is eggs now, ha!"
By now, we hope your stomach is rumbling, having visually swallowed the beautiful scenes created by Chang. She leaves us with some final thoughts: "I will encourage [the audience] to live well and eat well, enjoy life and enjoy living every day, and treat everything warmly. It's this sentiment that is the concept of my illustrations."