Today we’d like to introduce you to Lili Chin.
Hi Lili, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born in Malaysia and lived in Australia for 20 years before moving to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. Before I first moved here, my ex-partner and I had a small animation studio in Sydney. We did traditional and Flash animation – that was back in the day when web animation was a new thing. We had just co-created “Mucha Lucha” – a kid’s series inspired by masked wrestling which was produced at Warner Bros Animation. You could say that Hollywood led me here to LA and I grew to love this town and finally became a US citizen in 2019 so that I could vote.
In around 2007, I left the animation world and became a “dog artist”. The cliched but 100% true story for how I got to where I am today is that I adopted a dog and he changed my life. My newly adopted Boston Terrier – Boogie – bit people, almost got me evicted from my home, and started me on a long, ongoing educational journey about dog behavior. I learned the hard way that there is a lot of harmful misinformation out there about dog behavior. Eventually, I found great science-based teachers. Advocating for dogs became a big part of my work as an artist. My drawings led to me working for progressive dog trainers, veterinary behaviorists, and shelters to illustrate infographics and books about dog training and welfare. As a dog behavior nerd, I was also an artist for dog behavior nerds. I love helping to get the right information out there that will enhance human-pet relationships.
As the owner of DoggieDrawings.net – a 100% work-from-home online business, I do commissioned illustrations, I license my designs to other brands – for example, pet bedding, jigsaw puzzles, calendars, and dog toys. I also design my own products which I sell online and wholesale to retail shops and museum stores. More recently, I authored and illustrated a gift book about reading dog body language – “Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend”, published in October 2020 by Summersdale/Hachette, which is now in its second printing and will be translated to different languages.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I feel that my business – DoggieDrawings.net – has grown organically over the past 15 or so years. I have gone from illustrating pet portraits to retail, licensing, wholesale, and now, I am also a new author. I feel very fortunate that even though I haven’t needed to hustle very much, interesting projects have come to me and I have been consistently busy, even during this pandemic, because I have always worked from home and online. Over the years, a big challenge for me has been setting boundaries and learning to say “no” to projects. I have experienced burn-out on several occasions, having no life, and I am trying to get a healthier work-life balance by only working on projects that I absolutely love or believe in. This is harder to do than it sounds.
Another challenge I deal with as an independent artist – and I know that I am not alone – is art theft. My designs have been stolen by several large clothing retailers and I have been through a few stressful copyright infringement cases. The Catch-22 for digital artists like me is that we rely so much on social media to market ourselves so that we can survive, and yet we live with the risk that the more we put out there online, or the more known we become, the greater the chances are that someone will steal our work. It’s disheartening.
This past year has been especially challenging and devastating (in addition to COVID) because I had to put my best friend to sleep. Boogie, my Boston Terrier was my constant companion for the past 13 years; and had been by my side everyday almost 24/7 so when he passed away in October, I felt like I lost a part of myself. My schedule and sense of identity were totally messed up and to be honest, I am still feeling quite disorientated, like I am at some sort of creative crossroads. Everything dog-related that I create and consume triggers grief.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I design and sell products like my dog pins: www.doggiedrawings.net/
My new book on dog body language – “Doggie Language” has been getting a lot of attention and lovely reviews. This is available at bookshop.org, amazon.com, and please check and support your local bookstore! I know that Skylight Books (Los Feliz) and Vromans (Pasadena) carry it. More info at doggielanguagebook.com.
I have also created educational posters that can be downloaded for free from my website. These have been popular with dog trainers, shelters, and rescues and have been translated to different languages. doggiedrawings.net/
Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Even though my business name is Doggie Drawings, I also draw other animals! Earlier this year my husband and I adopted a bonded pair of kitties – Mambo and Shimmy -so I am working on more cat infographics! I am also involved in a collaboration project called YOKAI PARADE. We create and sell yokai prints, pins, socks and make comics – www.yokaiparade.com. Our comic about the yokai “Amabie” was recently published in “COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology” by Graphic Mundi.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.doggiedrawings.
- Instagram: instagram.com/
- Facebook: facebook.com/
- Twitter: twitter.com/lilita_
- Other: doggielanguagebook.com