Seven Artists Put Their Creative Spin on Lunar New Year Rituals

Image by @phingpit.

From rice cakes and red packets to fireworks and lion dances, Lunar New Year is deeply anchored in time-honored customs to help usher in a year of good health and prosperity. To ring in 2020, we asked digital artists from across Asia to put a creative spin on classic traditions and share the rituals that help them usher in a year of success. We’re also giving away a free Photoshop template so you can create your own Lunar New Year inspired artwork.

Junghyun Choi (Korea) @cjroblue

Korean illustrator and author Junghyun Choi’s artwork depicts the Korean tradition of gathering at Seoul Plaza to watch the traditional bell-ringing ceremony on New Year’s Eve and eating ‘Tteokguk’ on the first day of Lunar New Year. At the event, people exchange New Year’s greetings with loved ones to renew their spirits for the year ahead. The piece was created with Adobe Fresco, and simple color additions were done on Photoshop to complete the design.

‘Personally, what I do on New Year’s Eve is to open a new planner that was purchased in advance and write down New Year’s plan. Also, eating a traditional rice cake soup is a must!’

Guoxin Goh (Singapore) @9oh9x

Composite photographer Guoxin from Singapore has created an artwork that reenacts the iconic Lunar New Year lion dance scene. Using Adobe Photoshop, he blends several different images to deliver the mood and message.

‘Seeing how the Lunar New Year lion dance troupe executes precise and breathtaking acrobatic moves paves the way for an auspicious year ahead for me, so I try to make an effort to watch one whenever I can. Luckily, I’ve been able to accomplish that as my company invites the troupes to the office every year, setting me up for prosperity and success year after year.’

Michael Ng (Singapore) @mindflyer

Singapore-based illustrator and visual artist Michael is heavily inspired by traditional Chinese paper cuttings and folk art. He created his artwork with the help of Adobe Fresco’s painting brushes to lay down the color patches, using his base sketch as a guide. As a final touch, Michael added details and contrast to the piece using the ‘Blotty Ink’ brush.

‘In my family, our Lunar New Year ritual happens on the morning of the new year itself (初一). As my parents take their seat in the hall, my siblings and I will take turns to get on our knees and offer mandarin oranges and a red packet (红包) to wish them good health, good luck and prosperity. Honoring my parents and the core values they instill in me ensures that I start the year on the right note to welcome a prosperous year ahead.’

Saeah Eom (Korea) @happysaea

Hailing from Korea, where eating ‘Tteokguk’ (a rice cake soup) is customary on Lunar New Year, Saeah’s video shows the traditional method of making Tteokguk. Edited using Adobe Premiere Rush, she was able to add fast and slow-motion effects using the app’s new features.

‘Our family members get together on the morning of Lunar New Year and eat Tteokguk with new year’s blessings. The main ingredient of Tteokguk symbolizes a long life, and the round shape of sliced tteok looks like a coin. Having Tteokguk is a kind of ritual for health and wealth throughout the whole year.’

Andre Wee (Singapore) @andre_wee

Singaporean illustrator and visual designer Andre created his illustrations using Adobe Fresco on iPad. Most of the illustrated assets were designed to work in modular layers to save on time and effort.

‘The Lunar New Year is never complete unless I get to make ‘Popiah’ (fresh spring rolls) for my family and loved ones at my Grandma’s place. Making ‘Popiah’ is an art – it takes effort and yields delicious rewards from the simplest ingredients. Getting that right at the beginning of the year signifies a good and prosperous one ahead for me and the entire family.’

Meiia (China)

Apart from well-known LNY traditions such as red envelopes, family reunion and eating dumplings, there have been new rituals among next-generation youngsters in China which are more digitalized, social-friendly and sharable.

Meiia has created a powerful short video that underscores synergies between youths and creatives, to inspire their social sharing and expression.

Joy Li (Australia) @_joyli

Australian designer Joy tapped into familiar experiences from her childhood to create a handy guide to navigating the traditional reunion dinner on the eve of Lunar New Year. With the help of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, Joy shares a humorous take on who you’ll encounter at the dining table, proper dining etiquette, and inspiration for making the most of the moment.

‘New Year’s Eve dinner is a ritual that is celebrated every year in my household. As food is an incredibly symbolic aspect of showing love and respect in Chinese culture, it is a tradition and moment in time where we celebrate our abundance. Around the dining table we wish upon more wealth for the coming year, and from a creative’s point-of-view not just monetary wealth, but in all the other things that make life wealthy; friends, family and opportunities.’

Check out Joy Li’s downloadable recipe template to document and share your family’s traditional recipes for Lunar New Year.

What creative rituals will you be practicing this year to ring in the new year? Join the conversation on social using #AdobeLNYRituals!