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More On That with Clara Nguyen

BY Laura Casciola
More On That is a series that takes a deeper dive in getting to know our industry partners through 5 questions. We talk collabs, careers, care, beauty, and you guessed it– more.


Function of Beauty:  Clara! So good to be chatting with THE artist behind our infamous stickers. Tell us a little bit about how you got into illustration and how your style translated to the function brand.


Clara:  Thank you for having me! It’s a pleasure to chat about illustration and beauty! Art and Illustration has always been a thematic motif throughout my life. One of my earliest memories was being 10 years old pausing the television on frames I liked in various cartoons or anime I watched to spend hours drawing said frames as accurately as possible for drawing practice. Many, many years since then, I’ve been on a path of experimenting with different drawing styles while using illustration as a means of storytelling.

When it comes to Function of Beauty’s stickers, that same young-Clara-drawing-cartoons playfulness came to mind. The stickers were created to emulate strands of hair sticking to the shower wall. (Or, rather, a prettier version of the little tornado swirl of hair I make using the strands I accidentally pull while conditioning—we all know the one.) The drawing technique is called contour line drawing and the goal is to create illustrations that could realistically be made with hair. I focused on using few lines, varied large rounded to small squiggly edges, and simplified details.

FoB:  What’s your favorite function sticker and what’s the story behind it?


Clara: If I had to choose one, it would have to be the Function of Beauty rabbit which is the symbol that represents cruelty-free. I think many people can relate to that break through “ah-hah!” moment, and for me it was the rabbit! The rabbit was the first sticker I ever worked on, and I have pages in my sketchbook filled with me drawing the illustration over and over again with different line compositions. The final iteration has a pleasing visual balance to it drawn via 1 line—and I’m biased to this being my favorite sticker illustration as rabbits are my favorite animal!


FoB:  What’s another project you’re working on that you’re excited about?


Clara:  I’ve recently taken part in two illustration projects whose proceeds went to good causes that I would love to highlight! This past August, I contributed to Cactus Juice Zine—An Avatar the Last Airbender Zine that features 120+ artists whose proceeds went to Afrotectopia, The Birth of Revolution, The Trans Justice Funding Project, and the Advancement Project. Each artist was assigned one episode to draw inspiration from, and I got to recreate a meaningful scene from the episode “The Runaway” where Sokka and Toph reflect about Katara’s role as a mother figure while she overhears.

At the beginning of November, I took part in Will Draw For Good—an annual draw-a-thon that raises money for a different charity each year. This year, the fundraiser’s theme was to draw favorite foods and all proceeds are to be distributed to three NYC Mutual Aid Groups: Bed-Stuy Strong, Red Hook Relief, and South Brooklyn Mutual Aid. I was given the prompt Chocolate Cake and had a blast drawing a warm toned geometric illustration.


In both of these illustration prompts, I loved trying out new styles and drawing unique subject matter. With how this year has gone, it’s clear that now more than ever it’s important to give back to those who are in need. It excites me to be able to use illustration as a means of giving back to the community, and I want to keep looking for projects as such to take part in. I greatly recommend any of you with special talents to use those skills to give back to the community in any way that you can!


FoB:  With your finger on the pulse—what’s your take on women in the art world right now? 


Clara:  BIPOC women are currently and have always been leaders in the conversations for change. The design space is majority White/Asian women and it’s important to invest in spaces that decenter this majority and instead focus on listening, learning, and doing. Ethel’s Club is a great example of this as a healing space that centers and celebrates people of color through conversation, wellness and creativity, and I hope for a future that continues to enrich spaces as such for marginalized groups to thrive. Also, on a personal note, I have had the honor to have worked alongside many inspiring and uplifting women throughout my design career thus far. I’ve been given many advice about work/life balance, salaries, mental health, the importance of saying “no” as an artist, and knowing your self worth that I have to give credit to the wonderful women I’ve crossed paths with.



FoB:  What makes you feel beautiful?


Clara:  I feel beautiful from many experiences: I feel beautiful after having a long and enriched conversation about life with a loved one. I feel beautiful after doing my makeup just right, and then getting into an outfit I feel confident in. I feel beautiful after doing a full session of skin care—from a mud mask, a pore strip, and finishing with a sheet mask—and doing my nails while I wait for one of the three to complete. I feel beautiful when I make my family and friends laugh over a ridiculous joke, and especially beautiful when the joke pops up in someone’s head and they crack up moments after. When I feel not-so-beautiful and I’m in a period of sadness and anxiety, I light a candle, sit in a comfy blanket (depending on the season), order sushi, and decompress by either watching a movie or listening to music from my childhood while chilling with my cat named McCree. I also find talking with someone to be a form of self care, and I am lucky to have friends who I can turn to to express how I’m feeling, and perhaps play a video game together to feel better.