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Grace Chiu

Grace Chiu

Meet Taiwanese illustrator, Grace Chiu.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Grace. I am an illustrator from Taiwan. I am passionate about making picture books, and anything narrative for both adults and children. I love using mixed materials and loose, relaxing brush strokes. And I regard the making of art as some sort of meditating and self-discovery process.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I grew up as a small-town girl in Taitung, Taiwan. It has few populations and without many tall buildings and fancy stores. However, it is a great place to live a peaceful life. I spent most of the time with my friends and family, living among the amazing nature.

After high school, I moved to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. For several years, I studied and tried to make a living in this busy and overpopulated city. It was wonderful but also overwhelming.

Then moved to Cambridge, UK to study illustration. To my surprise, I found a long lost sense a belonging there. It reminded me of where I was born and raised, but much more welcoming to creatives. Cambridge was beautiful, vibrant, and full of inspirational people. I spent most of my time creating artworks and doing anything art-related, like visiting museums and sketching outdoors.

I am currently in Taitung again. It is exciting to start a brand new chapter of my life from where I started.

 

And I regard the making of art as some sort of meditating and self-discovery process.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about Taitung is the laid back atmosphere, and the downside is that the city is way too far from most resources/ opportunities. It is a perfect place for retirement though.

What I like the most about Taipei is the opportunities for developing a career. But like most of the big cities, it is easy to be caught up in its hectic pace and ended up struggling to make a decent living.

 

The thing I love Cambridge about is its cultural charm and pretty surroundings. I would say it is a great place to live a life and draw, but if you look forward to something exciting and trendy, London is a better option.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Taitung: isolated, chilled, nature

Taipei: challenging, hectic, ambitious

Cambridge: Free, cultural, community

 

How did you start your career in art?

I always knew I wanted to do art. I attended drawing classes when I was a child, but I never imagined my self to be a professional. I had been ignoring my passion for art, doing jobs that didn’t have much to do with it. I kept on doodling and attending artistic activities though. And after a rough period in my job, I realized making art is the only thing that makes me feel lively and I never get tired of it. I also found this amazing occupation called ‘children’s book illustrator’, and it immediately caught my attention. I ended up deciding to quit my job and to pursue a career as a creative. After many rejections and sleepless nights, I was lucky to be one of the students in the Cambridge School of Art. That is how I started my career.

 

After a rough period in my job, I realized making art is the only thing that makes me feel lively and I never get tired of it.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

I am grateful that my friends and family have been really supportive of all the decisions I made. Although they will occasionally seem concerned and confused, they always try their best to be there for me. I also found it very rewarding to get positive feedbacks from strangers who like my works.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

In the short term, I want to create more projects and challenge myself to make editorial illustrations. In the long term, I want to live in other cities around the world and make projects reflecting on what I experience. I would love to know how other artists create their works and explore the boundaries of illustration.

 

I would love to know how other artists create their works and explore the boundaries of illustration.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Any person will do. I like listening to people’s stories and making them my inspirations. I founded this hobby of talking to strangers when I was in Europe. I had been sketching in public often, and it attracted curious audiences, they were usually kind to express their feelings about my drawings or talk about their stories. It is fascinating to share others’ life experiences and wisdom. I believe that by sharing stories, we can learn, share strengths and know that we are not alone. That is also the core idea of my art.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Women around me work hard to achieve their goals, make bold decisions and take care of themselves. They can be tough if needed yet always kind to people they care about. Just looking at how determined they are building the life they want, make me feel like everything is possible.

 

Just looking at how determined they are building the life they want, make me feel like everything is possible.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

I can only recall a few local female creatives when I was growing up. I looked up to my drawing class teachers. They are both amazingly strong and energetic women. However, I didn’t meet any illustrators. When I was younger, illustrator was a relatively rare kind of creatives in Taiwan. Most people don’t think of art as a creation, but only as a skill.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Comparing to other fields I used to work in, the art industry is welcoming to all genders. If you do a little bit of research, you can see so many brilliant female illustrators all over the world. Being a creative itself is not an easy thing, but I haven’t encountered any obstacles because of my gender so far. The challenges I faced are mainly from people outside the industry. It takes some time to explain why as a girl, I am not following the relatively ‘safe’ career paths for women.

 

Life is too short to be someone else.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Life is too short to be someone else. If you want to achieve something, you should go for it. You don’t have to be perfect and you might make mistakes. Be patient and consistent, all good things take time.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Grace Chiu.

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