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Wu Yiping

Wu Yiping

Meet illustrator from Taiwan, Wu Yiping.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been thinking of this for a while, but to be honest I don’t know. I’ve been drawing since I started traveling at the end of 2015. I love art, history, and culture, recently being in nature.

 

I hitchhiked and did Couchsurfing; I sold my illustrations on the streets; I not only moved from places to places but also walked into one’s daily life to another’s. And the more I am on the road, the more I am confused about how life should be like yet the more I am keen on keep going forward the misty future. I never care about the destination, because the most amazing things always happen on the way.

 

I am fascinated by observing human beings, small from the individuals, big to the entire societies. With a bachelor of history and the love of the earth, my works not only tell the stories of my life experience but also build a bridge towards nature, the past, and present, raising the concern of social issues as well as environmental protection. I mainly use ink and water color, also mural paintings.

 

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

As I frequently move for years, I don’t live or based in any city. In fact, I spend most of the time in the jungle around South America at the moment. But there are also cities I always go back, such as my hometown Kaohsiung, Kyoto, and Melbourne.

 

Living in the jungle is like a parallel world from 2019. There’s no driving road; therefore there’s no vehicle, imagine when you need to do grocery shopping for an hour walk to the closest town. Due to the difficult transports, everything is expensive. There’s not much light at night so the daily schedule basically follows the sun instead of the clock. But at the same time nature gives everything we need, the materials, food, and endless inspiration. It makes me think of how less we actually need and how much horrible results we cause unconsciously in daily life. Visiting neighbors is not something you can simply open your door and ring the bell. It is a distance of hiking, better with head torch and boots. Despite the difficulties, the relationships between neighbors are very close. People are loving and caring for each other.

 

Life in the city is totally different. For examples, good coffee and a hot shower. There are many fun things to do, lots of exhibitions, events, and networks. Even Kaohsiung, used to be an industrial city and was notorious as ”the desert of the culture” when I was a kid, has transformed to a city where many young artists and incredible underground musicians appear. Besides, Kyoto is old and beautiful; Melbourne is super easy to survive.

 

As I frequently move for years, I don’t live or based in any city. In fact, I spend most of the time in the jungle around South America at the moment. But there are also cities I always go back, such as my hometown Kaohsiung, Kyoto, and Melbourne.

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

The best thing about living in Kaohsiung is leisurely; as for Kyoto and Melbourne, they are the places that wishes come true when you shout out loud.

As for the worst thing: Summer is too hot and long in Kaohsiung; Winter is too cold in Melbourne; Kyoto has both super hot summer and cold winter.

 

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

I have been full-time creative only in Melbourne. I would say diversity, possibility, delight.

 

How did you start your career in art?

It was all because of the weather and I was broke.

It was too hot to live in Kyoto during summertime, so I quit my part-time job, gave up my rent place and booked a ticket to Hokkaido, the very north island in Japan. Yet I didn’t know where to stay and what to do at that time. Just before my flight, I hosted a couch surfer who is an art curator and traveled from Hokkaido. He introduced my friend and me to an artist residency in Sapporo. So we had a chance to hold our debut duo exhibition during the residency. By that time I was asked if I sell my drawings. Even though I had no confidence at all but I was super broke. So I went back to Kyoto when the weather got cold in the north, trying the first time in my life selling some prints on the street. And I managed to buy a ticket way back home.

Then I got some freelance jobs from web design, getting just enough money for the working holiday visa and the ticket to Australia. I chose Melbourne because it was summer and I didn’t want the heat in the tropical states. I met a friend who gave me tons of help and encouraged me to set up a popup store at his garage. Meanwhile, I applied for a busking permit and started a street life again. I also did some artist markets and joint exhibitions in those months. Gradually I got some commissions and the opportunities for mural paintings.

I don’t think I have a career so far. I would say I’m actually at the starting point. Since last year I somehow survived with art, and I want to focus on it.

 

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

Yes. I feel really grateful that friends and the people I met are so supportive, especially my family. Although I think most of them have no idea what I am doing. It took my parents a while to realize the fact that I would not live an understandable life. But now they became my biggest fans.

From traveling in various cities, I could see that working as a creative is such a luxurious job. If it not for the good economic condition of the country nor people’s support, I wouldn’t have made it. I appreciate all the people around me and the luck I have to keep on creating.

 

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

I want to finish my own picture book by the end of this year. And I want to build my own studio with self-sustainability somewhere maybe in Taiwan.

 

I want to finish my own picture book by the end of this year. And I want to build my own studio with self-sustainability somewhere maybe in Taiwan.

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

Hmm, I don’t know yet. But I would like to work with NGO, eco-friendly brands, history or social related projects, or artists of any other fields. As the image can be powerful and easy to engage people, it would be wonderful if the works relate to both what I can do and what I concern or love.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are intelligent, confident, tender yet strong, very critical, sometimes quite mean but funny.

 

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

Yes. When I was a student, I admired a traditional calligraphy artist, Dong Yan Zi, and a modern dance performer and choreographer, Lin Lee Chen. I held my breath when I looked at her words, and I would save all the money not buying clothes or accessories, just to pay a sit as center as possible to the stage for her performance. Both of their works are so powerful and poetic, hitting deeply into my soul. There are also some female singers/ songwriters I admired. I admired them creating beautiful works, at the same time using their influence to fight alternatively for political, feminism, indigenous rights.

 

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

If it comes to busking, yes. As a female, I feel like I always need to be more aware of the surroundings than a male busker. Sadly to say, sexists and racists come across once in a while. On the other hand, I don’t think gender matters in the creative industry. The most important things are the content that you are giving, and the style of how people recognize that is you.

 

Remember that you do art not because you are good, but because you love.

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

Follow your heart and face truly to yourself. It is good to adore artists’ works but don’t get frustrated. Remember that you do art not because you are good, but because you love. Even though you haven’t been found by the world, even though it may be just a hobby, keep doing it and you’ll find your works build the path.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Wu Yiping.

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