Duration: One and a half years as a freelance illustrator.
Location: I’m traveling. I’m currently in Costa Rica and will move to Peru next.
Education: BA in economics from National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan; MFA in illustration practice from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
Career path: I always knew that I liked drawing, but when I was in high school, the illustration industry in Taiwan was not very developed. Society had the mentality of “if you draw, you are going to starve.” My parents also wanted me to keep drawing as a habit and not as a career. So when I was choosing what to study in university, I followed their advice and picked economics in order to “plan for the future.” In my four years at university, I didn’t draw at all, mainly focusing on studying. But when I graduated, I realized that I didn’t want to work in an economics-related job. I spent more than six months applying to “decent” jobs; at the same time, I started drawing again to build a portfolio.
Finally, my parents couldn’t stand me not working anymore, so I started applying to jobs that allowed me to draw. The first company I contacted hired me two hours after the interview. I stayed at that game company for three years until I felt tired of drawing for others and finally decided that I wanted to develop my personal style and work as an illustrator. I came to the United States to study illustration and then began working as a freelance illustrator.
Cultural influences: I like plants and animals; there are interesting patterns and rich colors in nature. I also like mysterious things, such as tarot cards, mythology, the 24 solar terms of the traditional Chinese calendar, astrology and I Ching. I want to learn about many things, and whatever I learned about naturally become the things I wanted to draw. Aesthetically, I like artwork that has rich textures and patterns, and I prefer loose brushwork and bold colors.
Favorite project: During a time when I was suffering from an overwhelming emotional chaos that was exhausting me physically and mentally, a story inspired by the experience just appeared in my mind, as if my subconscious had found a way to release my emotions. I drew that story into a picture book as a self-healing process. I’m proud of this project because of the special connection I have to the work. It eventually became my MFA thesis and was published this year in Taiwan through crowdfunding, which has attracted the interest of other Taiwanese publishers. I did the book just for myself and wasn’t thinking of any readers when I was drawing it. But to my surprise, people seem to like it.
Work environment: I’m traveling, so I try to take just the minimum supplies with me: laptop, Wacom tablet, paper, brushes, gouache, pencil, ink, charcoal and a scanner. And the work place will usually be the Airbnb that my husband, Ricardo, and I are staying in.
Approach: My style is a combination of traditional media and digital painting. Digital painting is my comfort zone, but I love the freedom and roughness of traditional media, so I play with both.
Aspirations: I want to have a stable editorial client list and constantly publish picture books. I would also love to work on more advertising projects and animated commercials. In ten years, I want to run a store with Ricardo, selling toys, ceramics and other products that we develop. Basically, I want to keep exploring the possibilities of illustration.
Philosophy: Have fun creating. You have to enjoy the project in order to produce work that excites others.
Fun fact: I’m now traveling the world with Ricardo, who is also an illustrator. We created a project called The Migratory, for which we interview local illustrators from each place we visit and release the interview videos and articles on YouTube and Medium. All our interviews are translated into three languages: English; Chinese, my first language, and Spanish, Ricardo’s first language.