My name is Yi-Jou YEH, also known as “michun”, and I am an illustrator. I was born and raised in Yunlin of south Taiwan, and my parents got divorced when I was a child. My brother and I lived with my grandparents since then, while my parents used to spend their weekend with us. My brother is a people person, his personality is totally different than mine. I am a quiet observer, sometimes my brother would take me to hang out with cousins. I didn’t remember when I started to have an interest in drawing, I would just naturally grab things and draw with any pen. Gradually, I had a more curious and strong interest in drawing. Even though I was under the intensive academic education in Taiwan, I still insisted to choose and fall into the art field (of course, my grades are not that good, so I didn’t have second thoughts on it.)
In my early years of making art, I thought art-making was like digging the inside of me, and sharing it with people. One day, I started to doubt that the works I made are meaningless to others. It was more like dumping lots of junk and garbage from inside of me. However, the moment people saw the bright and warm side of my works, it did not just heal me but it also comforted them. This feeling made me believe that my works have value to me and to others, so I am grateful that I can draw and have the ability to share my works. I hope my works will touch more people and bring richer emotions in the future.
I live in Taichung City in the middle of Taiwan. As a freelancer, it is convenient for transportation to the south and north. Living in Taichung is comfortable for me, the lifestyle is slower than Taipei. It also provides great amenities for living here.
The reason I choose to live in Taichung is definitely because of the comfortable weather and smooth traffic.
The best thing about living in Taichung is definitely the comfortable weather and smooth traffic, and it has enough developed spaces and possibilities for artists.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
The best thing about living in Taichung is definitely the comfortable weather and smooth traffic, and it has enough developed spaces and possibilities for artists. The people I met in Taichung are friendly. However, the worst thing of living here is that the activities of art and performance are not diversified enough. I think it’s a common problem in Taiwan.
Flexibility / Moderation / Comfort
I was not dedicated to art-making after graduating from fine art school. I was not sure I could be an illustrator in the beginning so I applied a web design job to give it a try. For three years, I learned a lot from working and I saw the huge difference between fine art and design. I was confused if I should continue the unchanging office life or move on. Eventually, I chose to quit my job. Since then, I started to fully dedicate myself in art-making.
At that time, I started with publishing works online and worked on projects that were referred to me by my friends. I became an illustrator bit by bit. Now, I have multiple experiences related to drawing, such as graphic design, murals, illustration, animation and motion graphics, etc., I also participate in many exhibitions and Artist-In-Residence programs.
I was confused if I should continue the unchanging office life or move on. Eventually, I chose to quit my job. Since then, I started to fully dedicate myself in art-making.
My grandparents and parents are both open-minded with my career but they worry about my financial state. Fortunately, I got help and support from many people I’ve met. I’ve been through hard times, but that’s just how life is, so I guess I will have smooth progress in my life.
As an artist, I like to expand my horizons through travel. I prefer and enjoy art-making on a trip, it works for me and is especially good for my job. In the future, I also want to improve my abilities in animation design and I want to cooperate with more creators from stage-drama performance, movies, and so on. Finally, I would like to create my own story to complete an animation work.
As an artist, I like to expand my horizons through travel.
I don’t have a wishlist on who to work with, I just wish to someday have the chance to join the field of stage drama performance and movies. That would be my honor.
Most of the women around me are unmarried and professional women. Compared to married women, most of them enjoy freedom in life as a freelancer, which means they have more autonomy.
During my growth process, there are not many female creatives. I guess most of the women from that generation are engaged in their married life. They might not have plenty of time to engage in art-making or couldn’t continue their work. On the other side, men were able to spend more time on their careers, so more men were well-known from that generation.
I can remember a Chinese brush painting female teacher in my senior high school who inspired me a lot. I love the way she focused on her painting and put aside the awards she had. Nowadays, due to the convenience of online platforms information could be searched in handy and we have more opportunities to see works.
Sometimes, and especially during my period, I could barely move my canvas which is usually higher than me. Beyond this, I don’t particularly realize the impact of gender in my work.
If you keep learning and doing, then your work will lead you to the answer.
Keep it on! Whether you are doing well or not, just keep it up. I know it is tough when you can’t deliver the work smoothly, but there’s always a way to lead you away from the swamp of art-making. If you keep learning and doing, then your work will lead you to the answer. The moment you hit the answer, it will bring you happiness, security, and confidence. It will calm you down, and this is important to a freelancer. Mentally, separate the creation from work. When you’re at work, listen to your clients and figure out their demands; When you’re doing art for yourself, just listen to yourself and keep an open mind when getting feedback from others, regardless if it is positive or negative. This will help you accumulate confidence for art-making and for your work, and this is an important step when you jump into this domain.
Photos courtesy of Michun.
July 26, 2019