Alum makes retail debut with Target holiday collection
Chicago-based artist Yiffy Gu (Illustration, 2019) is making her national retail debut via Target’s Wondershop Artist Series, a holiday product line celebrating art and culture in partnership with five women artists who bring distinct voices and visual expressions to celebrate the festive season.
Yiffy Gu brings signature illustration style to Target shelves
Through the Wondershop Artist Series: Yiffy Gu Collection, Gu explores colors, shapes, and new ways to bring her imagination to life. She brings a youthful, whimsical style to her illustrations, and says she’s passionate about creating beautiful color palettes and textures. And she found fans at Target. The company was impressed by her unique use of color, pattern, and character exploration. “I was absolutely thrilled when Target reached out,” says Gu. “This collection, which features 14 of my original illustrations, is inspired by my own Christmas memories with a dash of magic.”
Target welcomes diverse viewpoints for its Wondershop Artist Series collection and encouraged Gu to create work that drew from her perspective and memories. Growing up in China, Christmas wasn’t a traditional holiday for her, but, Gu says, “I still celebrate it for its charm and romance. Being able to incorporate my own personal experiences into the line meant a lot to me.” One of her favorite pieces in the collection is Reindeer Village Wonders, inspired by a vivid recollection of a family visit to a zoo on Christmas Eve.
Gu created her initial illustrations, then worked with Target designer Glorie Forliti to adapt her cheerful, colorful designs into a holiday product line that includes ornaments, dishware, gift wrap, and more. This national product launch marks a significant milestone in Gu’s career, bringing her work to the public eye—and into personal spaces. “It’s amazing to hear people have my work in their homes,” says Gu. “I hope this product line will help bring a larger audience to my personal brand, so more people can see my work.”
Yiffy Gu’s advice for pursuing a design career
CCAD’s highly ranked undergraduate Illustration program and array of campus studio resources attracted Gu to the college. She leaned into CCAD’s cross-disciplinary curriculum, complementing her Illustration classes with photography, motion graphics, and pattern design courses. This education gave her a range in skills and perspective that helped kickstart her design career and influences her work today.
CCAD’s creative environment, professional faculty, and talented students laid a strong foundation for Gu’s career. As a student, Gu worked as an illustrator in the CCAD Student Agency, which gave her the opportunity to apply what she learned in classes to real-world settings (you may recognize her work for CCAD from projects like this Valentine’s Day card and this collage). She encourages students to take advantage of all professional opportunities and resources CCAD offers. “There are no shortcuts to success. I have been working on my portfolio since I was in college, and I have worked even harder after graduation to chase what I want to achieve,” says Gu. “I encourage students to stay ambitious.”
Gu says collaboration is key, whether in partnering with a fellow artist or with a retail giant. “I believe the success of this series isn’t solely attributed to my efforts; it also reflects Target’s commitment to respecting and supporting artists like myself,” she says.
Shop Gu’s Target Wondershop Artist Series: Yiffy Gu Collection, or keep up with Gu and her work on Instagram or her website. Learn more about CCAD’s Illustration program or apply here.