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Tzu-Li Kuo

Tzu-Li Kuo

Meet illustrator from Taipei, Tzu-Li Kuo.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Tzu-Li, a Taiwanese woman enjoying getting old, dancing improvisation and eating really good food, especially what is cooked with love.

 

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

My city, New Taipei City, is very bustling (noisy and busy), and it never sleeps. It is easy to get a bowl of minced pork rice on the street at midnight. And it is surrounded by mountains. There is a river flowing through the city centre of Taipei. I have lots of important memories of this river. For example, going walking with my father after school, meeting my first dog friend Momo, and dates with my boyfriend (now husband). These beautiful memories all have become the inspiration for my works.

 

These beautiful memories all have become the inspiration for my works.

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

There is good and bad in everything. I love the convenience of transportation in my city, but I also don’t like air pollution and noises produced by airplanes, cars, and motorcycles. (Yes, there is an airplane flying over my house every hour.) I love local food and friendly vendors on the street, but they also cause dirt in the environment. In addition, I love all the cultural events in my city, especially those held by temples, like the Taiwanese opera, lion dance, and pilgrimage. These little things enrich my illustrations a lot. However, my sister hates them very much, because the loud music and noises of firework always cause her insomnia.

 

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

freedom, adventure, non-mainstream

 

How did you start your career in art?

It was an accident. Actually, I went to study MA Children’s Book Illustration Course in Cambridge for gathering more life experience to being a better interior designer, not an illustrator. After graduating, my heart told me being an interior designer can not enrich my life anymore, but I didn’t have enough confidence to be a freelancer at that time. Therefore, I started working in a lifestyle shop for my friend, which also brought me enough money to live. Luckily, I got some invitations from magazine publishers and book stores, and I did several illustrations for them. Some of them noticed my work from Instagram, and some of them are introduced by my friends. Recently, I realized that freedom means a lot to me. I am willing to accept more challenges, so I changed my full-time job into a part-time job to have more time to do artworks and enjoy my life with my family and take care of my green plants in my little garden.

 

Recently, I realized that freedom means a lot to me.

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

Yes, I would say I am very lucky to have my family’s support. Although my parents really did not understand my decision when I told them I wanted to study MA illustration in the UK. They were terrified. They did not believe I could make enough money as an illustrator in Taiwan. However, as time passed, they have gradually accepted it, which impressed me a lot! This is definitely unconditional love.

 

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

I hope I can do projects which are cooperated by local women. I would like to transfer their thoughts and voices into artworks. I believe this can connect people together, and we can understand each other and accept our differences.

 

I hope I can do projects which are cooperated by local women

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

There is no particular person I want to collaborate with. I am happy to work with everyone who has the same goal or interesting thoughts.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Each of my female friends is unique and beautiful. They are all fighting for their dreams and life. I admire them very much.

 

Each of my female friends is unique and beautiful.

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

I loved drawing birds and reading science books when I was a kid. Sadly, I only knew artists from my school books which only introduced foreign artists (basically male artists). Maybe this was the reason why I didn’t know many local female artists. I do hope the situation is different now.

 

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

In this creative industry, there is not much difference between men and women artists in Taiwan. And most of the illustrators I know are female.

 

Recognize and accept your emotions and feelings (also your fears) all the time, and it will also help you increase the deepness of your works.

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

Everyone is unique, so there is not a perfect answer for everyone. Usually, people will tell you to be brave to listen to other’s feedback, but remember, you have the right to take it or not. It is okay if you are not ready. Taking care of yourself is important because being an artist is a long-term goal. And it is good to be alone sometimes for an artist. You will have personal time to figure out what you are really facing or struggling with. Recognize and accept your emotions and feelings (also your fears) all the time, and it will also help you increase the deepness of your works.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Tzu-Li Kuo.

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