Happy Birthday, Hello Kitty! (2021)

Panic panic, I totally forgot. It’s Hello Kitty’s Birthday today!! I should have known it was a day after Halloween. Apparently she was born on 1 November 1974, making her 47! But being a kawaii fictional character she will never age of course. And so I thought I’d share a mixed media painting from some three years ago which was then digitally enhanced this morning, in dedication to my very much loved character, Hello Kitty!

So What’s the Deal with Hello Kitty?

I grew up with Hello Kitty and Sanrio as I was born and raised in Japan. When I was 11, my mother bought me my first ever plushie which I cuddled and loved to bits. That was in 1976. Unfortunately, I went through adolescence shortly after when cuddling plushies was no longer cool. Hello Kitty was soon forgotten and cast aside during my teenage years and throughout my younger adulthood, but nevertheless the plushie remained sitting idly on my mother’s piano. As Sanrio waned in popularity in the 80s, it suddenly made a grand comeback by the Millenium and all of a sudden, my happy childhood memories with my mother flooded back. I’ve been collecting Hello Kitty since then: plushies, figures, clothing, accessories, artwork, you name it. And what happened to my first ever plushie? She has since travelled halfway across the globe when I had her shipped over with my stuff from Japan after moving to Europe. Today, she sits in my glass cabinet surrounded by other HK plushies, her new friends. All grey and worn mind you after 45 years, but I still love her to bits!

My First Hello Kitty

The Old Painting

And here comes her little present! I came across this photo in my film roll I had taken in 2018, the same time I made this painting. Of course, it was long before I started blogging because I had just started with art. I just purchased my Sizzix Stix die cutter, which reminds me I should start using again as it still sits in my studio! A few Hello Kitty die cuts were also ordered on Etsy, and the experiment began. Just some cut-outs which I then traced on top of some doodles and scribbles with stamps and craft stuff and paint. The background was then finger painted in with a mixture of various violets and purples to create negative space with the Hello Kitty faces. And that ribbon? That came with the die-cut so thought I’d make use of it! For some reason, I never got around to writing about this when I began blogging. And hence a brief synopsis about it. Apologies for the bad photo quality as the lighting was not ideal and it was an old iPhone.

Digital Enhancement

So what to do with this cute further? Recently I have been following another class, this time on digital painting, called Procreate Cuties with Mindy Lacefield. More about later, but we learned quite a bit about enhancing artwork with special effects using texture brushes and stamps, all digital of course. Though already included in Procreate app, add-ons can also be purchased. Another cool thing I picked up was being able to import photos of past artwork and developing it further. Wow what an eye-opener that was! Here I imported the photo of the Hello Kitties and began incorporating some texture to it. The photo was then slightly enhanced by adjusting the lighting and brightness to make it look more lively. And here it is… Happy Birthday, Hello Kitty! I hope you like the painting.

Many may argue that digital painting is not “art” or that it’s cheating. Say what you will about it, but I still consider it as art as you are still being creative. It is certainly short-cut and more convenient but certainly not cheating; on the contrary a lot of work does go into production seeing that colors, brushes, opacity and brush-size need to be taken into account. I will of course stick to analog painting mainly but it is also a good change occasionally to dip into digital art for fun and convenience, ie. when you’re travelling. Nothing is more fun than experimenting and adding variety to your work! And anyway today is Hello Kitty’s birthday. I would like to celebrate it by enjoying painting about her no matter how it’s all done!

Check out my extensive Hello Kitty collection on my Instagram!

For mor about Mindy Lacefield, click here.

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