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Life & Work with Yunshu (Skye) Zhang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yunshu (Skye) Zhang.

Hi Yunshu (Skye), 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 was born and raised in China, and I came to the US after high school. To me, drawing was free, not restricted like math or science. I have loved drawing since my childhood, and it was also an enjoyment, as I often received compliments from my teachers and family about my drawing. For these reasons, I started to explore this profession. In the beginning, I did not have a clear direction to pursue, but I had a love for the creative process and the opportunity to bring joy to others. In the end, I chose illustration with my teacher’s guidance. I worked very hard studying English and preparing for my art portfolio when I applied to art schools, and I got accepted by ArtCenter College of Design. Now is my sixth year living in Los Angeles, and I really love this city.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In the eyes of an older generation, only the not-so-bright students would choose to study art. I used to be very bothered by comments like this when I was young, even losing faith in myself. I was naturally not inclined to math or science; I did not do well in these subjects even when I tried my best, which made me doubt my ability to learn anything. But now I think a disadvantage in one field is an indicator of remarkable talents in another.

In college, I found out that art school can have so many specialized majors, and each student had their specialty and produced such impressive work. With design being an integral element in our daily life, good design requires more than knowing how to use different design software, but a good sense of beauty and the ability to empathize, and more. Art and the creative process ask for way more than what the stereotypical “not-so-bright” students possess. Plus, all professions are noble and deserve respect. We are all precious. My takeaway is that one should never defeat oneself with the words of others.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I graduated from ArtCenter in December of 2020, and I mainly focused on graphic design and illustration. Now I am a Freelance Illustrator. Because I love nature and animals, there are many animals featured in my works. I want to express the love between humans and nature through my work. Since graduating, I’ve created many pieces and won many awards, such as the Gold Award Winner in the Graphis New Talent Annual, the winner of Illustrators 63 Annual Competition, and one of the finalists in Creative Quarterly 62 and Illustration West 59.

In my free time, I also like to make handicrafts. I like making small items or characters with clay, collages with paper mediums, and trying out new materials. Recently, I helped a video production team to design and execute scenes for stop motion animation. Being able to use my drawing and crafts-making skills, I very much enjoyed working on this project.

I am not someone who stands out in the crowd. As a petite Asian female, I am often overlooked or engulfed by crowds. But I am always watching the things that take place around me and fuse them into my work. I hope my work can bring some warmth and hope to people.

What’s next?
I’ve always hoped to publish an illustrated children’s book. I have a sister twelve years younger than me, who is very tall and often made fun of and bullied for her height when she was in elementary school. I want to write a story and illustrate the book from her perspective, to teach children that everyone is unique, and they should respect and love those around them while accepting their own bodies.

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