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Life & Work with Qiyue Zhang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Qiyue Zhang.

Hi Qiyue, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I fell in love with drawing when I was very young. It must have been when I first laid eyes on the picture book of Andersen’s fairy tales that my mother bought me, or maybe it was the comic strip of Dream of Red Mansions that I was addicted to. As a child, I looked forward to painting works like those in the future, before I knew it, painting became an essential part of my life. I am thankful for my family, who really supported my hobby. Since middle school, I received professional guidance from teachers in the studio for future admission to art school. It was boring and difficult to practice the basic skills of painting, especially as an art student that wanted to spread my wings and paint freely, but the basic art skills that I established early in my journey are the reason why I am where I am today.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Maybe because I have been in touch with hand-drawing for a really long time, but compared with works that are done entirely digitally, I have more affection for art that utilizes hand-drawing. To this day, I keep this step in my creative process by drawing with a pencil first. I then scan the line art and color and refine the artwork in Photoshop. In the beginning, I was conflicted; I wanted to abandon my original style to follow the trend of pursuing and producing pure digital works. Although the final product was not too bad, it was initially tough to achieve my vision without my familiar painting habits and styles. When I was the most confused, my senior semester professors, Yuko and Marcos, helped me log in with their words. They pushed me along the way to persist with my own style of painting. I remember everyone was showing their personal website to the two professors in one class, and when it was my turn to show my website, Yuko pointed to the scanned copy of my sketchbook and said, “You are very good at sketching. I really think the lines are vivid.” At the same time, Marcos asked me, “why don’t you use this style? I think this is a lot more interesting than the ones you’re doing now.” Their words touched me. I thought I was doing the right thing by following the trend, but they reassured me in what was my own style. Analog may no longer be popular in this generation, and I want to do something that people will love. My professors told me that no one can predict what the next trend will be in the world of illustration and that everything becomes very fast if we just follow and can’t build something that is truly our own. Their words continue to resonate within me and are a source of the inspiration behind my journey of creating art that is truly me.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I currently work as a part-time illustrator in a design studio now. For work, I use a different drawing style as our company’s primary business is to help our clients build up their websites to reflect their brand image. My job is to cooperate with our product designers to complete suitable vector illustrations on the landing page. In addition, I also work with private clients on commissions and pursue my own style through personal projects. Recently, I have been working on an unpublished art book project about the mythology that needs a lot of illustrations. It will be a long-term project, I am looking forward to completing it.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Now is the era of the Internet, which brings us many opportunities and challenges. We have more options and methods to be seen by more people, and at the same time, our society is overwhelmed by the flood of information. I’m glad that I live in such a diverse era and that I have the opportunity to communicate with more people while seeing various new technologies bring convenience to our creations, but the digitalization of our world scares me sometimes. I don’t want the traditional way of painting to disappear, so I am doing what I can to preserve the beauty of traditional art through my own style.

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