Stepping into Diccha’s World! On Art, Business, and Kawaii Communities
Diccha’s rainbow world perfectly embodies nostalgia! In only four years, she expanded her business from illustration commissions to producing a range of lifestyle goods. Whether designing handmade jewellery or full clothing sets, Diccha dreams big! Today, we talked about her creative process, business experience, and an artist’s place in a niche community. Read on to find real-world advice from a young creative!
Could you introduce yourself and what you do?
I’m Delia, you might know me as Diccha. I’m 23 years old and I’m a kawaii artist, I guess you could say, based in Sardinia, Italy. I’ve been making kawaii fashion inspired art since 2018, so it’s been like four years now. Before then, it was mainly commissions, but it’s now actually a full time job.
Your artwork, outside your brand, is pretty diverse! Does your brand mainly focus on Fairy Kei?
Yes, that’s totally the main substyle of my art. I’ve always been inspired by J-fashion. I found out via Tumblr about Fairy Kei, and I was instantly in love! I actually started drawing clothes because I couldn’t afford iconic Fairy Kei or Lolita pieces.
In just four years, your brand has grown so much. How did you find your focus?
I always thought “I’m going to do this forever because this is what I like the best”. In my opinion, [Fairy Kei] is what inspires me the most. I’ve dabbled in other kinds of art, like Kpop, Barbie, Care Bears, or My Little Pony fanart. That’s how I started selling artwork.
But depending on what you dabble on, it can be kind of fruitless, because you cannot always profit from these pre-existing things, because it’s not your original idea. I didn’t create Barbie or Carebears, it’s not fair that I can profit off of them. So I always tried to be as original as possible, because if you want this to be your full time job, you have to come up with your own ideas, your own character, do your own thing, you know, because anyone could be a My Little Pony fan artist. So why should someone buy from your shop instead of the other one that does the same thing? You have to give people something to come back to because it’s your thing.
The international Japanese fashion community is thought to pride itself on ‘artists supporting artists!’. Do you feel like you’ve felt that support?
I really love this community, because it’s so niche. It’s closely knitted together, we depend on each other. I depend on my customers. I don’t want to say my customers depend on me, but I pretty much make it all: I make shoes, clothes, accessories, digital commissions. So if they want a certain thing, they can come to my shop.
How would you compare the concerns you had starting your business with your concerns now?
First of all, when you go to art school, there’s this stereotype that if you graduate in arts, you’ll never have a job – so that was one of my worries. Even though when I graduated, I was getting a few commissions. It wasn’t anything crazy, it certainly wasn’t worthy of a paycheck. So I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to make it my full time job. I still went to look for normal day jobs. I remember going to my first interview, and I did so bad that that was my last interview. That was what shocked me. I was like, “Okay, I clearly suck at this. I’ll just go back home and hopefully get more commissions”.
That period of time was also the first time I started doing clothing. It was November 2018, exactly four years ago. I guess after me bombing that job interview, that’s what motivated me to actually start getting into making clothes. I sold them as made to order. I didn’t have any samples because I couldn’t afford them. So people had to actually trust me that I wouldn’t scam them because I didn’t have a storefront. It was all on Instagram. So I had to individually fulfil every order! It was pretty time consuming, but it was really, really rewarding because every time, the customer would send me pictures of what they got, being happy about their purchase. So that made me feel really, really happy! I was like, “Okay, this is my path.”
All by yourself, that definitely doesn’t sound easy. Not only are you taking care of packages, you’re also constantly making the products too! What’s something most people don’t realise about running a small business?
People have this image of being an entrepreneur. They have this image that you can work whenever you want. You can be on vacation whenever you want. You’re your own boss. When you work a nine-to-five you only worry about your workload when you’re working in your office. It’s easier than certain jobs, of course. I started doing [illustration], because when I started, I also couldn’t do anything [physical] because of a back injury I have. I can’t lift anything or stand up for a long period of time. So that excludes pretty much any retail job. When you go back home, you can do your home stuff and not care about your day job as much. I have to think about my business before I sleep, and when I’m eating my meals. You’re always thinking about your job, which is pretty exhausting for your mental health.
Also, people don’t realise how much their opinions can affect you. Whenever a customer wasn’t happy with their order, I would take it so personally, because at first as an artist, you have a blurred line between work and life, but it’s also within you and your artwork. I was guilty of seeing my artwork as my self worth. Please don’t do that. Because you are worth so much more! Whenever a customer was unhappy with their order, or maybe didn’t like an art piece, I would get so sad. I learned not to do that anymore. Thankfully, it’s a thing you learn with time and experience as a business owner.
Introduction and questions by Selina.