Freda Chiu is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer from Sydney who predominantly works in graphite. Main influences are children picture books and old-school horror movies.
Recently had her first solo show, Tiny Terrors at Wedge Gallery, Kinokuniya Books, and regularly partakes in Sydney group exhibitions. You may have seen her creepy drawings lurking about in The Lifted Brow, VICE and Penguin Books. Occasionally self-publishes and has made two books so far- Petpocalypse/Bertha and Tiny Terrors.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
Just to name a few- over-flowing trash cans, flies, hair…and oh, definitely eyes. Eyes and hair are satisfying to shade. My favourite part about drawing faces is filling in the eyes so they resemble beady, bottomless pits of doom.
Do you keep a sketchbook? What do you fill it up with?
I don’t really keep a sketchbook because I feel a bit restricted when I use them, but I do have a cupboard full of rough sketches and thumbnails on cheap art pad paper. When I’ve got a bunch of ideas in my head, I like to scribble and make a general mess of things. Some of my artist friends keep these beautifully annotated sketchbooks that look like precious artefacts…how the hell do they keep things so neat? I wish I could do that.
Lately, the pages have been filled with inking experiments, as I’ve been trying to venture away from my detailed graphite stuff (for now) and explore simplifying forms.
What’s a great comic you’ve read recently?
I really love Cochlea and Eustachia by Hans Rickheit at the moment. It’s so beautifully illustrated with steampunk influences, a gorgeous muted colour palette and a storyline that’s sweet, sad, twisted and perverse all at once. Needless to say, I immediately felt compelled to buy a copy.
I was also fascinated by the crazily detailed, gross contraptions featured in the book. Rickheit has a way of creating these quietly horrifying, surreal landscapes that make you feel uneasy, similar to the style of Charles Burns and Jim Woodring.
What’s the most enjoyable part of the comics making process for you?
Constructing layouts and getting to that stage where I can shade away and get into a state of mind where I’m totally absorbed. Shading is so therapeutic. It’s not surprising that crabby, middle-aged women have been flocking over to bookstores and demanding those ‘mindfulness’ colouring books recently.
Is print dead?
No way, I don’t think so at all! There will always be an army of artists and writers who want to preserve printed matter. Nothing posted on the digital realm can beat the satisfaction of receiving something tangible in the mail or purchasing a book that is unique to smell and touch.
Do you remember the last cool thing you got in the mail?
Alex Schubert’s zine, Street People and his Fashion Cat enamel pin from Valley Cruise Press. Fashion Cat is this angsty, anti-social, pretentious cat that wears a beret and eventually ODs on crack. He’s pretty hilarious and ridiculous at the same time.
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