Last Updated on 2021/03/27
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Chia-Chi Yu is a sprightly illustrator that communicates with her artwork lightheartedness and playful feelings.
Chia-Chi Yu is a freelance illustrator based in Taipei, Taiwan. After studying industrial design at the National University, she worked as an industrial product designer but decided to switch her career to illustration, therefore she went to study at National Art School in France. Back in Taiwan Chia-Chi started her career as a freelance illustrator with the publishers. She draws and creates artworks for editorials and book covers, she also makes illustrations for children. Chia-Chi loves using mixed materials and creating interesting and living illustrations.
This interview appeared first on Planet China Vol 11, Celebrating Women who push boundaries.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a freelance illustrator based in Taipei, Taiwan. I have studied art for 4 years in France. I draw a lot for editorials and book covers, also I make illustrations for children. I love using mixed materials and making collages. I prefer interesting drawings to beautiful ones. Now I live alone with 10 cats and a dog.
She found the motivation to draw, and she walked the path to accomplish what she had set out to accomplish: to be an illustrator
Have you always had clear ideas about a career as an illustrator since your childhood? How and when did you get into illustration?
I didn’t think about it when I was a child. I enjoyed drawing a lot, but I did well in school too. At that time, the illustrator wasn’t a common job. I wanted to be an architect. Finally, I did industrial design subject in the university. After graduating, I worked at a design firm as a product designer. At the same time, I realized that I wanted to draw. I started to study by myself. I drew some vignettes and published them on the Internet. I got some illustration jobs for publishers and magazines. But I felt my shortcomings and decided to go to France. However, I did not enter the illustration school as I wished. I studied fine art and I thought that opened my horizons. Now I feel that might be one of the best things that happened to me.
She is full of imagination, and always inspired by writers’ words, that enrich her illustrations
What are your best childhood memories related to drawing? Do you remember your earliest sketch? What was about?
I remembered that my mother drew a girl on paper with a ball pen for me and my brother. She smiled and said that she couldn’t draw it well, but I liked it very much. When I was in elementary school, I went to drawing class after school once a week. I remember some drawings at that time, like the zoo, the future world with a lot of robots, and the lotus pond. I also drew a portrait of my classmate in art class at school, I used strange colors to draw her face. She wasn’t happy at all.
Who influenced you as a person and as an illustrator and creative?
Jimmy Liao. He is the most famous illustrator in Taiwan. I think 90% of Taiwanese know him. During my college years, his career began to be successful. Illustrator became known as a profession. I believe he has influenced every illustrator of my generation.
Frédérique Bertrand. She is a French illustrator. Before entering art school, I was in the language school for a year. I knew very little about illustration, and I didn’t know any French illustrators. One day I found her picture book in a bookstore. I was immediately attracted. She used collages in her illustrations. The combination is very creative and full of humor. I remember I was very excited. I still love that book and her works.
Pema Chödrön. She is an American Tibetan Buddhist. In the past few years, I have read many books about psychology and the soul. Her words make me feel warm as if she is standing by to support you. Every time I read her book, I can make new discoveries.
Cats are a big part of her life, and it’s very natural for her to put cats in her artworks
What do you love most about your job? What are some of your favorite subjects to draw?
I like working alone at home. (Now I work in my studio because too many cats at home not alone anymore). I like to do the work by myself from start to finish. I like drawing the scenes, the places, and the landscapes. I like to make illustrations for literary works.
Cats play an important role in many of Chiachi’s works. She also creates a graphic book dedicated to a few felines’ surreal nighttime adventures
What are your sources of inspiration, and what is the creative process behind your illustration?
I see a lot of images. I like abstract artworks, landscape paintings, contemporary photography, and vintage illustrations. I also like dance performance and theater, sometimes I get inspiration from stage design. I don’t pursue fashion, but I like watching fashion week shows and clothes. There are many scraps of paper on my desk. I put them in my sketchbook to make abstract collages. I also draw meaningless lines and color blocks. On the one hand, it is like the release of emotions, on the other hand, I’m looking for accidental combinations. Sometimes I use part of these experiments in my illustration. Sometimes they affect my next work.
What better focus your personality, in your creations?
I don’t know how to answer this. Recently I have a lot of doubts about myself. I am not sure I know myself completely. How can I be sure that what I believe is the real me? Maybe my different attempts in the works reflect the variability in my personality. In addition, I like visually strong images, which I think is also related to.
What is the biggest challenging when you have to start a new project?
I think the biggest challenge is my mental state. I am a perfectionist. I always feel pressure to start a job. I also think too much, which makes me work slowly. Therefore I always feel tired and stressed. Since last year, I went cycling and running by the river, and practiced to be aware of my mental state.
You graduated from the National Art School in Nancy. Does living outside Asia have influenced your way to illustrate and life?
Yes. I really miss the 4 years spent in France. I feel that my horizons have broadened, both in creation and in life. I like almost everything I studied in art school. Even after more than ten years, I still find it useful and still affect me. With cultural differences, everything is fresh. I was like a sponge, I absorbed all the time. It was a very fulfilling time.
Photos & Illustrations courtesy of Chia-Chi Yu