Artwork by Christina Lu

True New Yorker Christina Lu is the hand behind her highschool friend Azealia Banks‘ iconic covers and pitching designs on kunt.FM. She’s a young art student attending her senior year at Parsons New School for Design for Design and Technology with a particular focus in animation, before that she was interning at the NYC Department of Education, where had the opportunity to direct a spotlight video on a student’s success story with the help of the No Child Left Behind program. Learn more about Christina, her hectic working nights and her old puppy after the break!

Could you please summarize your background? Was it always your dream to pursue a career as graphic designer/illustrator?
I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and sat in front of the TV as long as I can remember. In school, kids gave me their cookies during snack time in exchange for a drawing of their favorite Pokemon… I was a hustler! I never thought I would be a designer when I was young, since art programs were cut in my elementary school. I wasn’t really exposed in that realm until I noticed my sister drew too and my parents encouraged me to attend LaGuardia High School. From there, it hit me, “I can make cartoons for a living”?!

Do you already earn a living from your works? If not, what’s your profession and current occupation?
As of now, not really… but it’s still good pocket money to help pay for my MTA metrocards. I’m still a student so all my focus is mostly on education.

What is a typical day like for you? Any special perks?
Wake up, migrate to my couch, grab my laptop, go on Tumblr – I need help.

Artwork by Christina Lu

Artwork by Christina Lu

Where do you get your inspiration from? (things / person / place….)
Most of my inspirations come from my childhood, friends, anything cool I find on, and sometimes my Amazon art book recommendations. Some include black and white cartoons, Looney Tunes, Disney movies, artists/animators like Ub Iwerks, Tex Avery, David O’Reilly and Mary Blair.

Is there a medium / technique that you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to experiment in the future?
I would probably experiment with sculpting. I’ve always been taught to know traditional art before moving on to the programs like Illustrator or Maya. For example, observing and sketching the movement of a person/animal helps me become a better animator. Maybe it’ll be same if I took sculpting to understand how the body forms?

Artwork by Christina Lu

Could you please tell us something about your collaboration with Azealia Banks? How did it come about? Are you satisfied with what came out?
Azealia was one of my first friends in high school. I was a super shy Asian from suburbia hanging out with a spunky Manhattanite chick who got me out of my shell. From there, we just naturally collaborated and did early Photoshop graphics for fun and designed her single, “L8R”. After a while, she disappeared then reappeared with an email from her manager. I remembered what she liked high school so I drew it instantly, which is now a t-shirt. A month later, her manager emailed again about “Jumanji” and so on… In general, I’m pretty satisfied because she’s happy with the work and I had the chance to reunite with a lost friend. On the other hand, my typography sucks.

What was, if any, the biggest trouble you had to face while working on Azealia’s artworks? How did you cope with that?
One of the biggest issues was “time.” I got emails/texts at the last minute on a school night. I panicked and laid on the floor in my room, “F**K. I CAN’T DO THIS”. But I kept telling myself how this cover art was deeply important to her and I should develop a fast-pace work habit since in college I get a week or more to finish my projects. I did some yoga salutations to calm myself then quickly draw rough sketches. I’m crazy under pressure. Thankfully, she’s got back to me right away so I was able to finalize the illustration throughout the night.

Artwork by Christina Lu

Christina Lu, photo by Santos Munoz

What are your fav art venues/galleries in your city? Why?
Can’t really pick a favorite, but I love Museum of Modern Art! I was a family art programs volunteer for about three years helping kids build art projects in classrooms. I highly admire MoMA’s public programs and it fills in the gap what I missed growing up. As I mentioned before, growing up with cut art programs made me a depressed child.

Where do you see yourself in a few years time?

To be employed at respected agencies to develop interactive games/apps, produce educational shorts for children or something epic like Adventure Time.

Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?

Everyone’s mothers.

Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
My dog is turning 14 in a few months! He’s such an old fella but still acts like a puppy.