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YiVon Cheng

YiVon Cheng

Meet Taiwanese illustrator, YiVon Cheng.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am YiVon, an illustrator from Taiwan. Before becoming an illustrator, I was a texture/surfacing artist in animation. I also did some title animations and design commissions. I love learning and I am interested in many things. This September, I just started teaching at a university which is an interesting and exhausting experience.


Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
I am living in Taichung now. It’s often very sunny here which makes this city relaxing and joyful. Everyone says the food here is delicious and cheap, although I often eat at home.
I had spent two years in Edinburgh. It’s a very beautiful city. I love living there because it’s not big but very compact. And there’s almost no temples. Although being a Buddhist, I don’t like temples and giant statues.
I used to live in Taipei for more than ten years. It’s a busy and crowded city. I’d say that Taipei is a very dynamic city. There are always lots of various activities happening. Yummy food for 24H. The weather is very humid and hot. People get impatient quite easily. But thanks to lots of lovely cafes around the city. You can always find a place to relax for a bit and then back to the usual busy / long-working-hour life.


The best thing in Taichung is to have my family around me.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
The best thing in Taichung is to have my family around me. It’s common for Taiwanese to live with family members before starting her/his own family. I am living with my almost-two-year-old nephew. I never get bored of observing him and he never stops learning new things! His life just begins! Very fair.
The worst thing is air pollution and temples with statues of Buddha or various gods everywhere. And I am away from most of my friends in Taipei.


Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Compared to Taipei, the capital city, the art-related resource in Taichung is relatively less. I feel I need to be “active, self-motivated and sunny” Otherwise, I might feel a bit ” isolated, lost and mute.”


How did you start your career in art?
It’s like meant to be in a mystical way to me. But it is a long journey.
I wanted to be a painter when I was six or seven. However, I did not attend art school and I did well on other subjects. Later when I had the choice of my own education, I chose to study in Radio and Television Department in university because it’s the only choice I could have to study something related to art ….although it’s not directly linked. Before graduating, my graduation work was nominated in two student film festivals. It’s like a voice telling me that: Yes, you can create. Then I went to study a master’s degree in design and worked in a big animation company. Although I didn’t draw well, I still wanted to draw. I did not want to give up. Nine years later I started my second master’s degree in illustration. Now I am an illustrator. It’s a long process. And I am still fighting.
It’s never too old to start new things; it’s never too old to change, but I think it’s important to be prepared to obstacles or meet the devil in the heart.
It’s never too old to start new things; it’s never too old to change, but I think it’s important to be prepared to obstacles or meet the devil in the heart.


Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
I don’t think my parents understand what I am doing. They are worried about me and my future but they try to pretend like normal. I sometimes feel sorry simply because I chose to do what I love. This feeling is unhealthy but it still exists.
I am fortunate to have a group of friends who are always supportive. But honestly, for quite a long long time, I still feel unhappy and isolated. I have visions and live in my own timezone. I started my creative career as an illustrator quite late compared to others. Therefore I feel the most difficult thing is always to believe in and support myself at the difficult moments.  Once I bumped into an acquaintance on the street and she said a bit harshly ‘You should get married now. Not studying another master. You really need to stop doing it.’ What she said reflects the cultural and social value here. Thankfully, I had depression before when I was young, therefore I know I need to look after my life state. Now I try not to put labels on myself and focus at the present moment, not the worries or doubts.


What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
I have many goals. Some short-term ones are like exhibitions in Taipei, getting my picturebooks published and a collaboration project with my friend in Scotland…etc. The long-term one is to build connections with artists around the world and do things together for peace and young generations.
And I hope I can find my own visual language in illustration and other forms of art. I do illustrations now because I have a passion for it at the moment. If someday I find another way to create or communicate with the world, I might switch to another field.


I do illustrations now because I have a passion for it at the moment. If someday I find another way to create or communicate with the world, I might switch to another field.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
There are so many…just name the first in mind: Herbie Hancock.


How would you describe the women around you?
Courageous and generous. I am so grateful to have met some incredible women who encouraged me along the way. They see the potential in me even I could not see it. More importantly, they are willing to give me honest and sincere advice when I need it. They make me grow. They are my treasures of life. And we all share the same vision to become our authentic selves and be kind to this world.


They are my treasures of life.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
I feel so grateful to have encountered a marvelous and inspiring art teacher when I was seven. She always wore a theatre-costume-like dress and super high heels. I had never seen such a stylish and cool female in my life as I was only seven. She fully demonstrated the passion for art in the class. Most importantly she is the one who made me believe I was good at drawing. She encouraged me in every possible way. I still keep the handmade card she gave me. Not until I’ve grown up, did I finally realise how much pressure she had especially at that time. She was simply too special among all conservative teachers. Now I am around her age as I met her and her image and character still remind me to be a fearless and creative woman no matter how people see you.


Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
For me personally, the challenging part is having the ultimate confidence in everything. I just started my illustration career in my thirties. I devote almost all my time on it when most of my female friends enjoy their family life and have a stable income. It does not mean I do not want a family, a home, a balanced life …etc. I feel I need to process this feeling of loss of something sincerely and transform it into precious experiences of life. Thus I can be confident and undefeated to move on to my dreams.


You definitely have the power!

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
Everyone has a mission in life. Be kind to others, yourself and this world. I genuinely believe that if you really want to achieve something, the universe will send someone or something to assist you. That is what I experience along this journey. Therefore, be grateful and respectful. Good Luck. You definitely have the power!



Photos courtesy of YiVon Cheng.