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Yuan-Ting Tsai

Yuan-Ting Tsai

Meet Taiwanese illustrator, Yuan-Ting Tsai.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an illustrator currently based in Taiwan. I didn’t have any art training during my college years since I was majoring in Humanities and Social Sciences. I had stayed in the U.S. for 4 years to pursue what I really want to do with my life and got my MA degrees in Illustration and Graphic design. After I finished my grad school I went to a design firm in New York working as a visual intern for a few months. Even though I love seeing good designs and I thought it would be great if I could create cool designs by myself when I was a grad student, I found that I wasn’t very happy to actually work as a designer. I realized that my true passion is to do illustration work so I made the decision coming back home in Taiwan to work and live as a freelance illustrator. Now I’m collaborating with different publishers for editorial and children’s book commissions. I enjoy interpreting and visualizing all kinds of articles and stories in my imaginative way by creating fun and playful illustrations.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
I was born, raised and now living in Taipei where you can live your life the way you want. It’s inclusive, multifaceted, mixing the new and old.

 

I enjoy interpreting and visualizing all kinds of articles and stories in my imaginative way by creating fun and playful illustrations.

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

The best thing about living in Taipei is that it has great amenities. You can have a comfortable life in a busy city except for high rental fees and estate prices which may cause quite a burden to a freelance illustrator.  

 

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

Challenging, Exciting, Unique

 

How did you start your career in art?

I tried to send out promotional emails to publishers and companies or any potential clients as much as possible in the beginning. However, my first freelance job was not from those email promotions but from one of my mom’s friends, who asked me to draw and design the interior wall illustration for her house. The first year of my career was a difficult one because sometimes I only got one freelance job in a month. I kept sending out customized emails while creating new works and sharing them on social platforms like FB/IG/Tumblr…for months. Gradually people were contacting me and more and more jobs were coming. I think I’m the type that builds up my career step by step instead of having overnight success.

 

I think I’m the type that builds up my career step by step instead of having overnight success.

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

I’m lucky enough to have my parents who are willing to support me doing the things that make me happy. I know they prefer me to get a design job in a company and worry about my decision of being a freelancer. But they still give me strength and help to pursue my dream career.

 

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

Since most of my clients are local companies in Taiwan, I would like to expand my business internationally in the future. Besides the editorial and children’s book commissions I mainly working on,  I’m also looking forward to exploring new commercial opportunities to showcase my illustrations more on different media types, maybe an ad, a music video, an interactive art installation, a TV animation series for kids, etc.

 

Since most of my clients are local companies in Taiwan, I would like to expand my business internationally in the future.

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

I don’t have a specific person in my mind now, but if it is possible I would love to collaborate with Cartoon Network to create some fun and interesting TV series for kids. For the past three years, I had been creating and drawing a comic series for my illustration column on a children’s magazine. It was my first work to both write and draw short stories for kids. When I was brainstorming for the ideas of the story scripts, I always got lots of inspirations from the programs played on Cartoon Network. They have many fun shows telling humorous and crazy stories. So I think it would be great if I have the chance to work with its studio and create some cool stuff.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are independent, open-minded and kind.

 

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

To be honest I didn’t know that many local creatives when I was young. I guess it’s because my family and the school I went to are not relevant to the art field, and I got the idea of being an illustrator quite late till I went to the U.S. for graduate education.

 

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

Usually, illustrators get their clients based on their illustration works. Gender doesn’t matter. It won’t affect how people see your work or how much they pay for your work. So far I didn’t encounter any gender equality issues in the illustration field. I only notice one thing: that most of the art directors or editors I have worked with are females.

 

It won’t be easy to be an illustrator but it will be worth it as long as that’s what you really want to do and it makes you happy.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
It’s okay to have your own pace to develop your career and grow professionally into a successful illustrator. I’m not like many talented illustrators who can get all the attention at the start of their career, but slowly I still make my client numbers growing and now I can collaborate with many big publishers in Taiwan. Don’t compare yourself to others too much because everyone is unique. Keeping a strong and positive mindset will be important cause it’s inevitable that your works may get rejected many times by clients if they don’t feel satisfied with what you’ve done or you may get the feedback which is not what you expected. It won’t be easy to be an illustrator but it will be worth it as long as that’s what you really want to do and it makes you happy.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Yuan-Ting Tsai.

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