“Red envelopes” or 紅包 are used to give cash gifts to friends and family at Chinese New Year, and throughout the year at weddings, birthdays, and other happy occasions. Peonies play an important role in Chinese art + history, symbolizing love, honor, opulence, and female beauty. The red envelopes were the product of an elaborate process: I did lots of sketches in pencil, drew the final artwork in Photoshop, printed and foiled them separately for every color way, cut, folded, and assembled them.
What started out as a design experiment turned into something much more personal. Being Taiwanese, but born + raised in SF, it often felt like the “cultural” stuff existed very separately from this “modern,” American life. Chinese things were boring, old-fashioned, and embarrassing; American things were cool! popular!! and glamorous!!! But recently—maybe because I’m older, maybe it’s all the time I’ve spent overseas—stripping the old ideas away and weaving the best of both worlds into each other has been super important and of interest in my life. Not to make some watered-down mix, but living + exploring both sides at full volume, and sharing that with those around me. The red envelopes have become an embodiment of that mission—I wanted to challenge the perception of what Chinese was: Does something have to be cheap + tacky to be Chinese? Or can I show that something so Chinese can also be modern, creative, and beautiful, something that appeals universally, and something we can be proud to celebrate? In bringing together seemingly disparate worlds, I think we create something richer, more personal, and yet ultimately more relatable. Thank you to everyone who’s supported this endeavor of mine.