HomeFandom FocusInterview with Afterblossom: Star Wars, Fan Art, and #WheresRose

Interview with Afterblossom: Star Wars, Fan Art, and #WheresRose

Kelly or Afterblossom is a Star Wars fan artist from Malaysia. She has been creating beautiful art both digitally and through traditional medium for over 10 years. Not only does her art bring joy to countless Star Wars fans, but she has also used her art and her platform to creatively express the need for better representation in Star Wars.

What was your journey to becoming a Star Wars fan?

After I watched The Last Jedi, I was blown away by the chemistry of Reylo and the symbolism.

How did you become an artist?

I started in college. I have been in love with drawing since childhood, so I am glad that I can be an artist for a living.

What are your favorite mediums to work with?

Gansai paint, a kind of traditional pigment use by Japanese and Chinese. It has the pastel feeling to make the painting atmosphere special. I also use watercolors a lot.

One of your most complex and beautiful pieces is a watercolor that you hand painted of Rey and Kylo Ren as winged angels fighting the Praetorian Guards. What was your inspiration for that piece? What was the process and how long did it take to complete?

Check out Kelly’s process for creating this piece on YouTube!

My inspiration is from the classic murals from churches and cathedrals, so I wanted to depict this but implied as Reylo. I took a few months to finish it by using spare time beside my work.

Rian Johnson saw this piece and commented that it was beautiful on Twitter. What was your reaction to that?

Over the moon. One of the peak moments in my life.

Better representation in Star Wars in front of and behind the camera is not only the way to achieve more diverse storytelling, but to also reach a wider audience. What has been your experience in Star Wars fandom as a woman of color?

It’s tough because I have been in Chinese social media too and I am just enjoying myself. Nobody judges what I’m doing. It’s so different on Twitter because you will be harassed for what you like. It’s crazy. And it’s not only Star Wars Twitter but overall the online environment in the US.

As the first Asian lead in a Star Wars movie, Kelly Marie Tran and Rose Tico’s presence meant so much to many fans. #WheresRose was a campaign started in 2019 by fans because of the lack of Rose Tico in the marketing for The Rise of Skywalker. You shared a new piece of artwork every day for 30 days in support of the #WheresRose campaign to raise awareness and to demand better representation. Why was that important to you?

Check out Kelly’s Twitter thread of art for her Where’s Rose series as well as her store to purchase the book!

No one should be treated like that, and it’s important to me because I think I can do something for her, even if she is not on social media. I hope people will know she is loved by many of us. We want to show support by creation and love, not hatred. Saving what we love, she said.

The culmination of the #WheresRose campaign was when your book and a scrapbook created by fans were given to Kelly. What did that mean to you?

I didn’t expect she will get the book in real life. I am so happy that she knows that we love her. She is not alone.

In addition to #WheresRose and creating art that expresses the need for more diversity in Star Wars, you have also done several charity campaigns including for Black Lives Matter where fans can show proof that they donated to a non-profit and you’ll draw a small piece of art for them. Why is it important to you to use your platform for a bigger cause?

I didn’t think too much. I just want to help as much as I can, even just a little. Many of the Reylos are donating money to #WheresRose and #BlackLivesMatter too. Their contribution is as significant as mine. We are doing everything we can. For me, it’s drawing. For the others, it maybe is writing, selling merch, etc.

The sequel trilogy has brought in a new group of Star Wars fans who are younger and more diverse than ever. What would be your advice to those fans and to other artists?

Keep thriving and be supportive. Ignore the fighting and hatred, and remember it’s just a hobby. If you’re not comfortable, you can always pull out and take a break. Be kind to each other. For artists, my advice is to keep creating. Our fandom becomes a big community because we have so many talented people creating stuff.

You can support Kelly/Afterblossom at the following places:

Hammie BalancedPadawan
Hammie BalancedPadawan
Hammie became a Star Wars fan in 2018 after she binge-watched all of the movies in a week. She fell in love with The Last Jedi, the mythology, and the Force and has been tweeting about Star Wars every day since!


  1. I am looking to commission an art piece: Ben Solo and Daynerys Targaryan having a conversation/ smiling as besties in the afterlife. I have very little social media presence. Any help in pointing me in the right direction to artists (websites or Facebook) who might be willing to do the commission will be hugely appreciated!


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