Community Spotlight: J-Beauty from a Designer's Lens with Catherine
Posted on March 07 2021
Up next in this Community Spotlight Series: Catherine, one of our OG designers at Cosme Hunt! Read on to look at a designer’s perspective on Asian beauty.
Today I’ll be shining the community spotlight onto you, Catherine! How was your commute home?
It was good! A little bit dark, but it was fine! (laughs)
So Catherine, you’re one of our design interns. What made you choose the design path?
I think it started with me always doodling little things everywhere. Then I guess I started design as an extension of art? They felt like more purposeful doodles. It kind of put some sort of concrete, collective idea to all those little doodles. I started to do it more, and then I became more into branding and interested in how people conveyed messages through art. I guess it stemmed from doodling, then from fun of creating things, then adding meaning to them!
Stemming from doodles, I think that’s common with a lot of designers. They’d always be the ones with doodles in the corner. Can you walk me through your ritual, if you have one, to get your creative juices flowing?
So the first thing is, I’m a night owl (laughs).
Oh heck yeah, me too!
I’m awake late at night! I’m up around 1 or 2 AM, sometimes it’s a little earlier like 12! But I think it’s the late night that randomly inspires me. I think it’s calmer? It’s quieter so that’s when I normally do my work. The first thing I like to do is to think about it like a problem I’m solving. I ask myself “What do I want to create with this?” or, “How can I convey this?” Before, when I thought about design, it was more like, “How can I make something artsy that I want to put out there?” But recently, inspiration comes from UI/UX, where you’re more intentional with the placement of things and how you direct people’s gaze. The first thing I think about is the information I want to convey and the second thing is making a mock up. I like to draw on my iPad before I do anything online because for some reason, it feels like lower stakes for me (laughs). So yeah, I usually start on my iPad, and then I take a combination of all those designs, filter them out, and then put them online.
I think it is the quiet of the night that sparks inspiration for me too! I could be laying in bed then my eyes fly open and I’m like “oh my god, I can totally make a TikTok like this.” I want to say it’s the quiet of the night that allows you to really hear your thoughts.
Yeah, definitely! (laughs)
So when looking at Western and Eastern aesthetics, are there major differences to note? I know you said you studied art history, so this can be contemporary or even back then.
I guess I would say that they’re definitely different. In art history, they do separate realms for them; you don’t study them together, you study Eastern versus Western art. But I think in the recent art period, being the last 100 years, they’ll combine the two of them and show how they mix. In the last few years, the “trends” or the phases they’ve gone through in the art world is through both. Most of the classes I took for art history were Asian American art history or new art as a combination of both. Instead of taking them separately, I took a weird mixed class that talked about how they clashed, especially in the United States. It was really interesting because a lot of it was talking about how mixing art was a good and bad thing. It would unify people over a collective image, but sometimes it was a bad thing because it asks where art draws the line at cultural appropriation, or when it is stealing people’s art. I feel like I don’t have a concrete answer for these questions! (laughs)
Oh no, it’s okay! I write these questions to just pick everyone’s brains!
I think the other big question that came out of it was about activism-based art. You know how the Bay Area’s had a lot of movements, especially in the San Francisco area? So it’d ask, “How has the art of the revolution impacted it?” One thing we’ve looked at is the Vietnam War and how they did the branding for that, with the graphic images for the bold protests. The housing crisis in San Francisco was another interesting thing to look at through an art perspective. But yeah, there’s this combination of both styles where people growing up here got influenced from different people and styles while growing up. They’d use it to make art that resembled their own collective, and it was really interesting to me.
Would you say that the interconnectedness of the globe made some sort of new fusion aesthetic?
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s hard to do art nowadays totally isolated from everyone else. There’s definitely a lot more fusion; I know more artists will travel to different countries to produce art and have large exhibitions. It’s also a way to spread things because I know Cosme Hunt is all about beauty products. But I also think back to Japanese artists that came to the US, and in art history we always talk about how people aren’t initially widely accepted. But art was both a way for them to express themselves to their own community and a way to express themselves to the outside world.
Since you just mentioned it, Cosme Hunt is a curated beauty brand. Lastly, what are some of your favorite Asian beauty products that have the best designed packaging? The product could be meh but the overall design is what’s gotta grip you, haha.
All the sunscreens! I think all Asian beauty brands have nice sunscreens. I’ll use the Biore sunscreen, I’ll use Korean sunscreens… To be honest I’m going through the process of trying them all! I know a lot have unique packaging, which I really like. But I’ve never bought anything for unique packaging, yet! I’m very tempted to, though! I know some have little flower etching on the side to be considered “more Eastern” styles, and I think they look really nice. I think their mascaras are better for me, too. I don’t know the exact brand of the one I use, but I know it’s an Asian mascara. My eyelash hairs are very thin, so I think that’s why it works so well for them.
By chance, does the mascara have that crying anime girl on it?
Wait, I think so! I think so!
Oh my god, girl, it might be Kiss Me Heroine Make. That is bulletproof.
That thing lasts forever! And it doesn’t make my lashes sag. It’s perfect, perfect! I don’t know if it’s their brand but I think they also have an eyelash primer that I use as well. It… It has a white package, that’s all I know (laughs). I think some of them are just so nicely packaged that it’s unusually satisfying opening them. It’s like opening a little present! Those are some of my favorites but I’m a die-hard sunscreen fan. There’s another one that we carry at Cosme Hunt that was a soy toner? I don’t remember the name…
Oh yeah, Sana! But yeah, I needed a new toner, and I ended up trying that one. At first I was like, “it’s very liquidy. I don’t know what to do.” But it ended up being really good for my skin! It was one of those, “Oh, I’ll try it!” and it worked out!
SANA SOY ISOFLAVONE NAMERAKA Lotion ($18)
It turned out good in the end! (laughs) So that was about everything I have for you! Did you have anything else you’d want to share with our readers? Any holy grails you’d want to speak about?
Oh my gosh, so I got betrayed by Purito’s centella sunscreen when it came out; it’s only like SPF 20! I still have the bottle! So I was like, “I guess I’ll use it for foggier days…” But now I use Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery!
I’ve heard really good things about that one! So why would you recommend that one?
This was actually the first non-American sunscreen I’ve ever tried. It basically converted me to Japanese sunscreens! I don’t like white cast from sunscreens because I look like a clown when I put too much on (laughs). I know there’s a difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens, but I can’t remember which one this is right now! But I know it’s one of those! I like that it doesn’t leave any white cast, it’s also very smooth and blends well. It feels very light and it has nice compatibility with other things. It’s my go-to that you can easily acquire. It applies well and blocks the sun, so no future wrinkles. 10 out of 10 from me!
Biore sunblock, everyone!
That’s my go to!
Thank you for setting aside these 15-20 minutes so we can chat!
Yeah! Nice to talk to you!
Check out more of Catherine’s designs on our Instagram! See you all next time!
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Leila is a self-proclaimed "child of the internet" as she has been a netizen since MySpace and Neopets days. The website that fascinated her most was YouTube, which eventually led her to graduate from San Francisco State's Broadcasting and Electronic Communications program. When she's not going down internet rabbit holes, she experimenting in the kitchen or doing weird voice impressions.