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Home > Culture > Art & Design > Illustrator Josephine Rais on bringing joy through art and working with Ying’nFlo
Illustrator Josephine Rais on bringing joy through art and working with Ying’nFlo

“My style is colourful, loud, dynamic and above all, figurative. I love to stay close to reality but still leave room for interpretation. If possible, my work should reach everyone, bring joy and occasionally make you think.”

A Berlin-based artist known for her colourful and dynamic digital illustrations, Josephine Rais arrived in Hong Kong earlier this year to grace the city with her vibrant paintings. You might’ve seen her works around town, perhaps making their way down King’s Road on a ‘ding ding’ tram or at Ying’nFlo, Langham Hospitality Group’s new lifestyle stay venue. Either way, her art is bright, bold and impossible to hate — which I would say is a win for us in Hong Kong, a city that needs a lot of cheering up after the events of the past three years.

During the opening of Ying’nFlo — more on this later — Rais sat down with Lifestyle Asia to talk about everything art, from her life as a self-employed illustrator to her career plans for the following year.

Josephine Rais

Career beginnings

“Ever since I can remember, my love has always been art and painting,” said Rais as she opened up about her background. “I owe my interest in art to my mother. She always encouraged my brother and me to be creative, whether it was handicrafts, painting or sewing. I was allowed to try out everything and anything I wanted.”

With so much exposure to art, Rais very quickly realised it was an area of work that suited her, but for many years it remained exclusively a hobby. During her childhood and teenage years, she learned to get a feeling for aesthetics and composition, colours, textures and materials. “Then I also started drawing digitally for the first time,” she said.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in product design and master’s degree in strategic design, Rais took a leap of faith into self-employment and began working as an illustrator. And although she had a very open-minded childhood, it was her move to Berlin five years ago for her studies and work that really inspired her to take her hobby further.

“The diversity, freedom and tolerance that I experienced in Berlin greatly shaped my own personality and also my style.”

Indeed, if you study her art, you’d see them as a reflection of the values of freedom in Berlin. Treading the line between reality and abstraction, Rais’ figures are free-flowing and unobstructed, with bright visuals that aim to bring happiness and make the viewer think.

Working with Ying’nFlo

At the beginning of 2022, Rais reached a new milestone in her career when she was approached by Ying’nFlo with the request to illustrate the key visual for their new concept. Despite all the travel restrictions at the time, she flew to Hong Kong to help bring Langham Hospitality Group’s vision to life, creating a total of eight illustrations that can be combined in different ways; a large-scale mural spanning over 270 metres square outside the flagship hotel; and two trams.

The goal of Rais’ art was to highlight the fun, the cultural exchange and the discovery and experience of new things, alone as well as in the community. For the illustrator, who had the same vision as the team at Ying’nFlo from the beginning, the project was nothing but smooth sailing.

“The Ying’nFlo team respected me very much as an artist and trusted my interpretation of their philosophy, which I appreciated,” she said. “They gave me free rein to my creativity, which is not always the norm when you collaborate with companies or brands, so I really enjoyed this project.”

Rais’ process for Ying’nFlo included making rough sketches on her iPad, creating mood boards and working with colours — her favourite part. She described the journey from conceptualisation to production as “meditative”, mentioning that she liked to listen to an audiobook while colouring in her sketches.

Josephine Rais

As for her proudest moment while working on this project? The illustrator smiled, gesturing towards the giant mural on the outside of the hotel.

“The biggest compliment for me was the decision that my key visual will also be painted as a mural on the hotel, so not only Ying’nFlo’s guests but also passers-by can see my work.”

Josephine Rais: Life as an illustrator

Back in Berlin, no two days are alike for Rais. The artist has two workstations that she rotates between: a shared office, where she usually spends the first two days of the week working on client projects and digital illustrations; then she moves to her studio in Lichtenberg, focusing on her canvases and tufting carpets in a brightly lit space in an old factory building.

“Depending on the workload, my working day lasts between six to eight hours, sometimes more, sometimes less,” she said. “I really enjoy being able to be flexible with my time and sometimes start later but work longer, or the other way around.”

When asked about her plans for the coming year, Rais highlighted the importance of rest. For the month of December, she is wrapping up several projects, then has a holiday break lined up.

“I’m not a person who makes a lot of plans, I like to take things as they come and so far I haven’t really had that much time to think about the new year. But I hope that more great projects like the one with Ying’nFlo are waiting for me.”


Ying’nFlo is a new lifestyle stay concept designed as a place that feels like a friend’s apartment but better, featuring guestrooms and common spaces that are Instagrammable with multifunctional uses and adaptable furniture. A playground for emerging artists and musicians, design firm Linehouse and Berlin-based illustrator Josephine Rais worked together to create a tech-forward space for young millennial and Gen Z travellers to grab a healthy bite, have informal meetings or enjoy a quiet moment after a busy day.

Learn more about Ying’nFlo on its website and visit its location at 3-5 Wan Chai Gap Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2833 8688

Illustrator Josephine Rais on bringing joy through art and working with Ying’nFlo

Charmaine Ng

Editor

Charmaine enjoys eating steamed broccoli and knocking back cups of spearmint tea, all in the name of health. Covering art, beauty and music :)

 

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