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Eirlysie

Eirlysie

Meet illustrator from Calgary, Zi Qing Li 李子晴 aka Eirlysie

GirlsclubAsia-Artist-Eirlysie- Zi_Qing_Li-profile

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Zila and I’m a Chinese-Canadian freelance illustrator. Since I don’t have much recollection of my birth country, I’d like to imagine the world I was born in to be full of colors, life, and wonders, which is often reflected in the themes of my works. I’m in love with anything pink, fashion and body horror! Other than looking for those things, I spend my days playing video games and watching anime in my room.

 

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

I was born in Zhongshan, China. At a very young age, I moved to Montreal, so it feels like I’ve always lived in Canada. At that time, I was not very proud of my ethnicity. I was the only East Asian girl in my school and had my first experiences with racism from kids who undoubtedly picked up the mentality from adults. The exclusion was not limited to kids, however. In summer camp, I was never picked by the instructors to go upstage compared to the other children, and I went to the same camp for 4 years. I knew I stood out, and the biggest mistake of my life was blaming my parents for being born this way. I remember standing in front of the mirror, my height barely past the doorknob, pinching my nose higher and pulling my eyes wider. I also remember holding back tears. I didn’t understand what I was experiencing then. I just remember it being painful and feeling helpless.

After 8 years of living in Montreal, my family moved again, this time to Calgary. That’s where I learned English, so I can speak 3 languages (including French and Chinese).

Eventually, I grew past it after finding a community and pride in my heritage through East-Asian media such as Vocaloid, anime, and K-Pop. It was in high school where I finally became confident in myself, and while I did have my doubts once in a while, my confidence did keep growing! I would say I’m at my happiest than I have ever been before.

 

Eventually, I grew past it after finding a community and pride in my heritage through East-Asian media such as Vocaloid, anime, and K-Pop. It was in high school where I finally became confident in myself, and while I did have my doubts once in a while, my confidence did keep growing! I would say I’m at my happiest than I have ever been before.

 

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

There isn’t much to do in Calgary, to be honest. Downtown is easy to spot no matter where you are in the city since it is so small, and Chinatown only occupies one street. However, its size can also be great! Since it’s a small and relatively new city, it is cleaner than the others I have been to and everybody seems to know each other. It can feel pretty homey and you are sure to run into someone you know at one of the two popular malls here.

 

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

Most of my creative journey was paved by being online, so I do not have many words in mind. I’d say “hermit”, “earbuds” and “portfolio”. I’ll leave it up to the imagination what these words relate to!

 

How did you start your career in art?

It was in 2016 on Etsy where I received my first paid commissions. As for when I started drawing, I’d say I got serious with it after moving to Calgary. It was my way to keep me busy and express my interest in Vocaloid and anime. LinePlay was also huge in my decision to become an illustrator. I used to do commissions for players in that game for in-game coins, and there were a couple of artists I admired a lot and who kept me motivated to improve! More recently, I opened my first merchandise store and that is where I am going with my career at the moment.

 

More recently, I opened my first merchandise store and that is where I am going with my career at the moment.

 

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

The communities I am part of are extremely supportive and honestly, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As for my parents, they were a bit hesitant at first, but after seeing some of my accomplishments they decided to be cautiously supportive.

 

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

To create a visual novel! I absolutely love stories and art, and I feel like they are interchangeable. One simply cannot exist without the other! Other than that, I would love to start streaming and to keep expanding my online store.

 

To create a visual novel! I absolutely love stories and art, and I feel like they are interchangeable. One simply cannot exist without the other! Other than that, I would love to start streaming and to keep expanding my online store.

 

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

That is a very difficult question because I have so many in mind! If Junji Ito, Mochizuki Kei, Takayan, DECO*27, Neru, Doja Cat, or Corpse Husband so much as breathe in my direction, I’d leave this world happy and with no regrets. But if I really have to pick only one person, it would have to be wowaka. Their music was so influential for me. It kept me company when I was still new to Calgary and finding myself. Sadly, they have passed away. I still have my hopes that I have a chance to collaborate with them in the afterlife though!

 

What are the biggest challenges you face in working as a creative?

Overall, I’d say it is to improve on my craft and to stay motivated, the latter especially during the quarantine. I also feel a bit lost from time to time since I don’t have a teacher, instructor, or boss to help me with where to take my career or what I should work on next. I feel like that is the case for most freelancers, but I am still a bit new to the field so I am still working on that! There are perks to being your own leader so I try to keep my chin up and move forward.

 

Talented, diligent, beautiful and smart! Especially my mom, she is especially beautiful and hardworking.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Talented, diligent, beautiful and smart! Especially my mom, she is especially beautiful and hardworking.

 

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

Almost all of my influences were online, so I can’t really think of any local creatives even if I tried hard. I’m sure there are a lot of talented women who I should get to know and admire in my city!

 

Keep at it! Your efforts and every contribution mean something, even if it may be difficult to see right away. I bet you will look back one day and say to yourself, “Wow, I’m amazed I’ve come so far, why have I ever doubted myself?” Open yourself to influence as well! There is a lot to take from any creative works, visual or otherwise. It can also keep you motivated to create yourself!

 

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

Keep at it! Your efforts and every contribution mean something, even if it may be difficult to see right away. I bet you will look back one day and say to yourself, “Wow, I’m amazed I’ve come so far, why have I ever doubted myself?” Open yourself to influence as well! There is a lot to take from any creative works, visual or otherwise. It can also keep you motivated to create yourself!

 


What type of music do you like to listen to?

Vocaloid! My favorite artists are the legends themselves; wowaka, Neru, and DECO*27! I’ve probably heard all the old-school Vocaloid songs, and the new artists in the field are also amazing. Other than Vocaloid, I’d say J-Pop, K-Pop, rap, and pop. I’m open to genres since Vocaloid introduced me to so many!

 

What’s your favorite local food spot?

Fusion, Tokyo Street Market, and Kinjo. I love sushi and bubble tea in general!

 

Knight Zhang asks: What is something you struggle with as a creative that you don’t think is talked about enough in communities or online spaces?

This issue is pretty general, but I feel like the topic of plagiarism should be taught better in schools, especially art school. A lot of artists alone have had their works stolen at least once or have been falsely accused of copyright infringement (the latter happens way too often on YouTube). There are a lot of misconceptions about plagiarism, and I wish we artists have more and better resources when it comes to protecting our works.

 

Angie Son asks: What’s your secret to staying motivated

Consuming media! Often, a good story, visual or song will motivate and inspire me to create. I have based a couple of illustrations on songs, trying to translate the feeling I got from it into a visual.

 

What question would you like us to ask the next artist?

What is your guilty pleasure?

 

 

Photos courtesy of Eirlysie

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