22 Qs: Meet Garbo Zhu

22 Qs:  Meet Garbo Zhu

From a spontaneous purchase of air-dry clay on Amazon to the foundation of Grumpy Kid Studio in Montreal, Garbo Zhu's career took an unexpected turn during the pandemic. Her unique creations have garnered millions of views TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, and she has sold out of her pieces time and time again. Despite her business name, Garbo's online persona is anything but grumpy. She gladly answered 22 questions for us, offering insights into her life and personality.

1. Describe your work in three words.

Cute, Grumpy, Ceramics.

2. Where do you find inspiration for new designs?

We took inspiration from fashion, nail art, and nature—mostly trends beyond ceramics. A big part is also what our followers are requesting from us.

3. What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about your work?

Clay is a very unpredictable material. Once it starts cracking at the wrong spots, there’s nothing you can do but start over again. No matter if you spend hours or days or weeks on one piece, if it fails, it fails. cry.

4. What's your biggest inspiration?

My audience, my staff, and my family.

5. What's the one thing you can't live without?

Music!!! Especially early 2000s hits when we’re packing.

6. If you could time warp yourself to any point in history, when would it be, who would you hang out with?

It was probably when I was a kid in Guangzhou, China (2005 ish) and I would hang out with my grandparents. Specifically, making dumplings as we are counting down to Chinese New Year.

7. Plain or pattern?

Pattern 🎀🌷🧇

8. If you had to get a lyric tattoo, what would it be?

“I want to go home” - Stop by Pink Floyd

9. Which living person do you most admire?

My dad, Frank.

10. Who are the contenders for your ultimate desert island playlist?

Britney Spears!! Lana del Rey, Jay Chou, Lesley Gore, Deserts Xuan, Waa Wei, Leah Dou, OH AND Teresa Teng!

11. If you were on the run, where would you hide out?

I would throw a dart on the map and go there so it’s unexpected.

12. What is your signature dance move?

The worm, always.

13. What surprises people about you?

How grumpy they can be when they can’t buy a grumpy Bao mug.

14. What do you have an irrational fear of?

Basement centipides (I can't even spell it right they are so gross).

15. What is your favourite colour combination?

Brown and beige and dirt and denim and a hint of dusty pink.

16. What is the first thing on your to-do list?

To pay my tow ticket cuz I forgot to move my car for snow removal (Montreal things).

17. First thing you would grab in a fire?

My husband. if you mean a non-living item, probably my new Miista boots.

18. What dish reminds you most of your childhood?

Jook-sing wonton noodles. It’s a traditional Cantonese noodle dish in which the noodles are made with a dough that is flattened with a bamboo pole. By flattened, I mean a guy will sit at the other end of the bamboo pole and bounce up and down while rotating the pole. GIRL, it’s so good.


19. Vintage or new?


20. What does a typical day look like for you?

8:30 Wake up

9:00 Actually get up

9-9:30 Drink coffee/makeup/watch true crime on YouTube

9:30-12:00 Film some content/reply to emails/meetings

12:30 Drink more coffee and start driving to my studio

13:00 Get to my studio

13:00-19:30 Complain about the Montreal traffic/film my walk-ins/do studio tasks (including throwing on the wheel, trimming pots, adding grumpy faces, glazing the mugs, airbrushing mugs, or just snacking with my staff) sometimes this can last until midnight

20:00-20:30 Eat food my husband made and watch Succession

20:30-00:00 Reply to email/edit YouTube/attempt to pay for my towing ticket/watch more true crime or cult or business fraud-related videos on YouTube/scroll mindlessly on Tiktok & Instagram & Little Red Book

00:30 Bedtime

21. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

22. What are you most proud of?

My relationships <3 

For more of our 22 Question Series...

Jeremy Joo

Andrea Grand

Maxine McCrann