I stumbled across Amy Crabtree’s shop, Cakes With Faces, while browsing on YouTube for Japan vlogs, and found her YouTube channel. A little after, I got in touch with her for an interview! Note that this is not a sponsored post, just a little something from one admirer of Japanese cute culture to another.
Tell us about your shop, Cakes with Faces.
Cakes with Faces is my brand of colourful t-shirts and gifts, including dresses, hoodies, cushions and enamel pins. They’re all my own original designs, based on cute characters. My aim is to make people smile with cute designs! I sell them online on www.cakeswithfaces.co.uk and also at one or two events, like MCM Comic Con and Hyper Japan.
How has Japan impacted your life?
Japan’s had a huge influence on my life, because without it I probably wouldn’t be running Cakes with Faces, or at least not in quite the same way. Japan’s a big inspiration for my designs, as subject matter and the kawaii design style in general. I love how cuteness is accepted in Japan – cute characters are everywhere and it’s not necessarily seen as childish like it sometimes is in other countries. Apart from design, I’m also a fan of Japanese food, fashion, music and I’ve been teaching myself Japanese. I love travelling there whenever possible, and making videos to share my experiences.
Did Japan influence you as you were growing up?
When I was growing up I didn’t really know much about Japan – my friends were into different things so at the time I didn’t have much exposure or access to it. Although I have always like cute and colourful things! So when I discovered Japanese kawaii and pop culture, it fit with a lot of things I liked already. It was later when I was at uni that I first got into Japanese culture, and since then it’s been a huge influence!
When did you first start getting interested in Japanese culture?
I first found out about Japanese pop culture through anime. I used to go to an anime club where we watched anime and ate sweets! From there, I found out more about Harajuku fashion (through the amazing Fruits books), Japanese food, magazines, kawaii design, music and travel in Japan. The more I discovered, the more I found that I liked!
Why did you create a YouTube channel?
I first started my channel to promote Cakes with Faces, but since then it’s become so much more than that. At that time, I’d never made a video in my life, so there was a lot to learn! I’ve found I really enjoy it, especially the editing, and I spend a huge amount of time on it. Lots of my videos are from my trips to Japan, and it’s great to relive all the memories and share them with my viewers. I genuinely want my videos to be helpful – a lot of people (myself included) are a little nervous going there for the first time, so it’s lovely when I get messages from people about how my videos helped them plan their trip.
What was the inspiration behind your username, Cakeswithfaces?
Cakes with Faces are one of my favourite things to draw! Lots of people often think I make cakes!
Are there other artists or Youtubers who inspire you?
My favourite artist/designer is Tokidoki (Simone Legno) – I love the cute, colourful characters, bold outlines and montages in his designs and products. I was lucky enough to meet him once, and he said he liked my All the Best Stuff is from Japan t-shirt! There are so many artists and designers that I follow and admire, including Junko Mizuno, Caramelaw, Mizna Wada, Miss Kika and Yoh, who draws the manga in Gothic Lolita Bible. On YouTube my favourites are Simon and Martina (Eat Your Sushi) because their videos are so fun but also with useful, interesting content, and they have such an inspiring, positive attitude.
How did you get interested in art?
I’ve always been creative and spent lots of time drawing even when I was little. I first got into digital illustration when I got a stack of Photoshop magazines and a graphics tablet as a present. I started designing cute characters as a hobby, which grew from there and turned into Cakes with Faces!
What are your plans for the future, with your online store and YouTube channel?
I’ve got lots of ideas for new products this year! I’m currently working on some new dresses, and there’ll also be some completely new items too. I’m hoping to finish my second comic book, which I’ve been drawing on and off for ages. It’s a sequel to How to Make Sushi; a recipe book for other types of Japanese food, all in comic book format. For YouTube I have lots more Tokyo vlogs coming up, and ideas for some more travel guide style videos, to share my tips for planning your trip to Japan.