Illustrator and cartoonist. 
Better known as Chrostin. 

MOCKTAIL MEETS | 06.08.2023

Hi Christina! For people who don't know you yet; who are you and what do you do?  

I am Christina, an illustrator and cartoonist, although my training in communication management is something completely different. Born and raised in Mechelen, but nowadays I live in Antwerp.

I work weekly as an illustrator for De Standaard magazine and I am currently working on two books.

One of the books is a Thai cookbook, where I learned an awful lot about my own culture and the background of Thai cuisine, including the history behind it. It is not an ordinary cookbook with recipes; it is packed with stories, anecdotes, illustrations and history.

My other book is my first graphic novel, a completely different project from the first.

Where did your passion for drawing ever start?

My passion for drawing actually started without a specific turning point. I do remember that in kindergarten my drawing was praised by my kindergarten teacher. She said, "Wow, that's really good for a three-year-old." That compliment has always stayed with me. Later my father sent me to art school, but I didn't like that because I wanted to draw my own cartoons and didn't want to stay within the limits of assignments.

I think drawing has always been there! 

You are super open on social media about mental health, being a woman, finding your place in the world... Why do you think that is so important? 

For me it's important to be open because it's a way of dealing with my own struggles. I share my personal experiences because I realize how important these themes are and because I notice that many others can relate to them. The fact that I am not the only one struggling with these challenges encourages and motivates me to keep an open mind about these topics. And it's also a form of therapy for me.

My alter ego, Chrostin, also makes it easier for me to share such things. I can hide behind this figure a bit. Chrostin acts as my voice for injustice in the world. But that doesn't mean I don't stand on the barricades myself when necessary.

Do you feel that you and Chrostin are often seen as 1?  font>

Absolute! Chrostin and I are often seen as one, and that's because she is a reflection of who I am and what I want to share with the outside world. She acts as the medium through which I convey my thoughts and feelings. But it's important to realize that there are also many things I'd rather keep to myself or share with close friends and family. That doesn't mean I don't want to write or draw about it, but there are some aspects of my life that I deliberately keep private. Chrostin and I are connected, but she only represents part of who I am.

Chrostin and I are connected, but she only represents part of who I am.  

If you post a cartoon about a socially sensitive subject, is that something you think about for a long time? 

Making cartoons about socially sensitive subjects can be done in different ways. Sometimes it's an impulsive and emotional response, where I just draw what I'm feeling at the time, without much prior planning.

On the other hand, when I feel something is very unfair, I take the time to write it out. I think about how the story should be put together and what message I want to convey. It is important to me to communicate a message of hope, despite the challenges we face in the world. I still believe in the goodness of man and the importance of community and togetherness. In fact, community and community is at the heart of all my work. It's a way to show that together we can be stronger and make a difference. 

You worked out a mother's and father's day greeting card for The Mocktail Club. Looking back now, what do you remember about this project? 

The project for The Mocktail Club was a lot of fun to do. To be honest, I didn't know The Mocktail Club before I started this project, but when I visited your website and talked to you, it immediately felt right. The fact that it is a Belgian local brand, founded by women, immediately gave me the feeling of a strong match.

I wanted to represent all kinds of moms and dads with the design, and I'm very pleased with the end result. It felt important to show diversity and inclusiveness in the cards.



We also collaborated with #SHEdidit, the organization of which you are an ambassador. Why do you think it is so important to commit to this? 

I've been an ambassador for #SHEdidit for 5 years. I really try to convey what they stand for. 

What they do for young girls and women is wonderful. They provide support to these young women to develop their own entrepreneurial dream. It's great to see them empower so many girls and young women and help them realize their potential. I wish I had had such support myself when I was 18.

You never know what could happen tomorrow. Live in the moment. 
Be present.

Do you have any tips for young female entrepreneurs you'd like to share? 

Dare to ask for help! Also financial! There is sometimes hesitation around this subject, but it is important to realize that asking for help is normal. 

Build contacts within your niche or the sector in which you want to develop.

Be open about both your successes and your failures. Entrepreneurship comes with ups and downs, and it's important to embrace both aspects. By sharing your experiences, others can learn from you and you can grow as an entrepreneur yourself.


                                                        © Dena Huys

Do you have a philosophy of life? 

I have a few life philosophies. For example, I have no savings. I always say to soothe myself, "You never know what might happen tomorrow. Live in the moment. Be present."
My motto is that a day isn't a good day if I haven't done anything fun. Of course I have an endless to-do list and I have to work hard, but I try not to let it affect me too much anymore. I used to lie awake because of this. I now really want to focus on doing fun things and choosing myself. Self-care is really super important.

We are seeing a growing trend where people from your generation and younger are becoming more conscious about alcohol. Is this something you also notice in your environment? 

It is striking that many of my friends choose not to drink, but each for different reasons: religion, personal preference or health reasons.

I'm really glad this has never been a problem in my group of friends. No one puts pressure on you if you choose not to drink. There's not a single friend who would say, "Why don't you drink? Come on, just have a beer." No, absolutely no one. It's great to see how we respect each other in our choices and that everyone can just be themselves.

Has this trend also had an impact on your personal life? Have you started to think more consciously about alcohol? 

Actually, I never drank much. Every time I drank, I quickly felt sick before I could even experience the buzz. So alcohol has never held much appeal for me. I have found that I can have a great time without alcohol. I don't mind if others enjoy it, but it just doesn't help me.

What is your favorite flavor from The Mocktail Club? 

That dark red! N°3 Beetroot & Ginger. I'm a ginger girl. 

Which mocktail would you drink with a dish? 

I would recommend the Basil & Pairing Elderflower with a yummy Thai dish called 'Pad Kee Mao', which actually ironically literally translates to 'Drunken Noodles', but has nothing to do with alcohol at all! The legend goes that once someone came home drunk after going out and threw everything together in the wok and the dish was created, which is why it is also a popular dish after going out / partying. But for me, the two go very well together because Pad Kee Mao also uses Thai basil, which is usually more peppery in taste than the basil we know. And partied or not, this dish always tastes good. And yes, it will also be in my cookbook soon ;-)