London and Hong Kong-based artist Celine Lau specialises in creating bright, cheerful illustrations that bring a smile to whoever sees them. We caught up with her to learn more about her creative approach and how living in two places has shaped her art.
The illustrations of Celine Lau are impossible to miss. Thanks to their bold block colours and joyful expressions, they positively burst off the screen and force you to be happy. It’s no wonder she’s already been snapped up by clients such as The New York Times and Taco Bell.
The energy in her illustrations comes in part from being split between Hong Kong and London. “I come from the vibrant city of Hong Kong but have made London my base,” she tells Creative Boom.
“My journey as an artist began with a deep-rooted passion for drawing and art, something I’ve cherished since a young age. Growing up as a single child meant plenty of alone time, which I often turned into creative opportunities, using art as a means of entertainment and self-expression.”
This passion led Celine to study illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. She not only honed her drawing skills but also immersed herself in the world of visual storytelling. After graduating, she became a freelancer, initially dipping her toes into it by working part-time.
“The freelance path has been both challenging and rewarding,” she reveals. “I am fortunate to have encountered several exciting opportunities during this period, each contributing to my growth and expanding my artistic horizons.”
Like many creatives, Celine’s artistic journey began when she was young. The cartoons she would watch on TV became a formative influence that still inspires her art today. “When I was young, I spent a lot of time watching Cartoon Network, which became my initial artistic influence,” she explains,
“The vibrant colours and witty humour, particularly in shows like Chowder, captivated me. Around primary school, I discovered pop art and encountered artists like Keith Haring, whose bold use of colour and strong lines have significantly influenced my style.”
These eye-catching colours and distinctive black outlines are all infused with a joyful undertone that is just as much a signature of her style as anything else. “I aim to convey a sense of truthfulness and sincerity in my art, capturing genuine emotions and expressions,” she says.
When it comes to why she uses such bold colours in her illustrations, Celine reveals there is also an emotional connection at work. “I’m drawn to things that instantly capture my attention, and bold, bright colours never fail to uplift my mood,” she says. “They’re simply a source of joy and an instant feel-good element.”
Living between two different cities on opposite sides of the planet has also instilled in Celine’s work a unique fusion of artistic elements. “From the lively, diverse art scene in London to the rich heritage and bustling energy of Hong Kong, each place has contributed distinct perspectives to my work,” she says.
“London is where I have developed my practice, while Hong Kong is where I grew up. This has given my artwork a dynamic, multicultural essence, allowing me to create pieces that resonate with a global audience while staying true to my roots.”
Making illustrations is more than just a creative outlet for Celine, though. It has also helped her to navigate her own mental health struggles. “Art, for me, isn’t just a creative outlet,” she says, “it’s therapeutic and offers happiness and solace.
“I aspire to share this joy and hope others experience the same sense of fulfilment. I aim to bring a smile or offer a kind of ‘virtual hug’ through my art because everyone deserves a little brightness in their day.”
We’d say Celine has succeeded on all counts, as it’s impossible not to look at her work and feel uplifted. And with a children’s picture book due to be published next year, we’re set to see much more of her joyful illustrations very soon.
“As 2023 comes to a close, my focus shifts to the aspirations for 2024,” she concludes. “I aim to further expand my creative practice, delve into exciting projects, connect with like-minded individuals, explore art markets, and develop more of my products.”