Finding creative confidence from Amelia the hedgehog

Photographer and artist Sophia Hsin writes about her journey with Amelia, the studio, and all the creative endeavours that followed.

Amelia Hedgehog’s tale is filled with all the things I love in a story — an ordinary character with incredible passion and a mission, that finds courage and overcomes adversity.

In 2014, Amelia Hedgehog Studio began in a hedgehog pen and basement suite. Having moved to Vancouver from China after finishing a degree in medicine, I left behind everything that was familiar to pursue a career in art. 

Amelia the hedgehog was a Christmas present to myself, at a time when I did not have any family or community in Vancouver. She turned out to be a muse and an excellent sidekick — with bold, sassy  characteristics I admired.

Photo credit: Sophia Hsin

Our creative process started organically; I still remember times where I cackle with laughter after capturing images of Amelia. It was experimental and fun, and I had no idea what I was doing.

Amelia’s photos began to gain popularity online and that’s where everything began — from partnerships to projects to creating content leading to a product line with cards and calendars. 

Running a production studio is not meant for the faint-hearted, as everything was driven by a fierce determination to create and make something that was my own.

Photo credit: Sophia Hsin

In 2017, I moved back to Taipei to reconnect with my family. After not speaking for several years, the transition was incredibly difficult. Amelia passed away within a month of me moving back and it felt like part of my world had shattered.

Naturally, I went after what seemed like the hardest thing at the time — to produce, market, and print a hedgehog book on Kickstarter in Taipei.

The campaign succeeded, not without challenge, and ended in a partnership with MUJI Canada, where they carried the book while I hosted book readings with the company of my dreams.

Photo credit: Sophia Hsin

The most beautiful thing I learned from Amelia Hedgehog Studio was belief — in myself, and not in the culture I was raised or in the voices of people that were closest to me.

I learned not to look to a spiky business partner but to look within for creativity and resilience. I find great confidence in creating something that is ordinary but beautiful, and something people can relate to.

Amelia’s project still remains one of my favourites. The story is personal, encouraging, and talks of beauty that can be found even during difficult times.

“Do Small Things With Great Love” remains our studio motto, and something I hope to apply to everything I do. 

Amelia’s book “The Extraordinary Book of Hedgehog Puns” can be purchased on Sophia’s website here: https://www.sophiahsin.com/shop/hedgehog-pun-book

Photo credit: Sophia Hsin

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