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Scribble Artist Interview with Kelly Blake!

Big Eyed Cat by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Cat by Kelly Blake

Scribble Town (ST): We are so very happy to have the talented Kelly Blake with us! When I came across her artwork I could see how sensitive this person is to the world around us. From that, I just had to know more about her. What are you up to Kelly?

Kelly Blake (KB): Hi Scribble Town! I’m Kelly Blake and I live in the creative city of Bristol, United Kingdom. I’ve spent a long time studying throughout my life but I now feel I’m at the point where I have learned everything I felt necessary and I now feel confident enough to pursue the dream of producing my own art. I actually moved to London several years ago to complete a Masters in Production Design (movie art direction for anyone who is unsure) but after finishing and eventually moving back home I realised my true passion lies with illustration and creating my own individual artwork. So that’s what I’ve begun.

Normally when I produce some artwork there’s a reason why I’m producing it. The main factor behind all of my work is that I absolutely adore animals; it’s the common thread behind all art I create and I have a large array of artwork under my belt which (I hope) shows just how much I love all things fuzzy. At the moment I am focusing on publishing my very first adult colouring book called ‘Into the Wild’ and I’m working to raise the funds necessary to complete the project by producing my own Kickstarter campaign. If anyone is unsure of what Kickstarter is, it’s basically a crowd funding website where you launch a campaign and ask for the public to fund you. Imagine Dragon’s Den but will a billion different dragons! It’s going rather well at the moment so I’m doing everything possible to ensure I raise all the funds and so I’m able to complete the project successfully.

Please take a look at my Kickstarter campaign here so you can get a feel of the project.

ST: The concept is wonderful!  Is Into the Wild: A Coloring Book About Nature just for adults?  I think many people of all ages would enjoy seeing the pictures come to life.

KB: Thank you! I’ve initially created Into the Wild as a colouring book ideally for adults, but of course all ages are welcome to join in. The reason it’s for adults specifically is because the images are a little more detailed than perhaps some of the colouring books on the market today –even more detailed than most of the adult ones too! Each illustration is comprised of lots of different angular shapes/blocks and it’s only as you begin to colour each section that it reveals a hidden design within the image. Think of it as a slightly abstract and more challenging version of paint by numbers, but with the freedom to choose your own colour coding. It’s rather quite complicated when you get down to it so perhaps it might become a little too confusing for the younger audience; but of course they’re completely welcome to have a go!

Surreal 'Goddess' Illustration by Kelly Blake

Surreal ‘Goddess’ Illustration by Kelly Blake

I originally came up with the idea because I know a lot of people who are very artistic but are not able to draw even the simple stick figures. I have received a lot of compliments for my artwork in the past (especially my abstract pieces) and it led me to think about creating something that enables other enthusiasts to produce something that they’re also proud of without feeling like they’re lacking the talent to do so. It’s also been a proven fact that adult colouring books are being used as a way to de-stress and calm your mind so why not hit two birds with one stone!

ST: That is so thoughtful of you to create something that includes all ages! When and how did you start illustrating and drawing?  Is there a piece of art that always inspires you to create?

KB: When I think back to when I actually began drawing I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t being creative. I’ll always remember at my earliest of ages in Primary School one of my paintings was framed and featured on the wall inside reception as an example of a ‘good piece of art’. Of course, when I look back at it now all I can see are the dodgy eyes and weird shape of Henry VIII’s head, but I feel like I wouldn’t have come so far without all the support and positivity of the people around me. It’s the constant reassurance of ‘that’s great’ or ‘wow!’ that really drives me to produce more and more art and to get better and better. Granted, there’s always a few pieces that make people think ‘hmm, how odd’ but as long as I create something that I feel I’m proud of, then that’s what pushes me to continue with my work. Who cares if 90% of the population dislike it, what’s important is that the other 10% can appreciate it.

Eagle Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Eagle Woodcut by Kelly Blake

There will always come a time when I think to myself ‘I want to do an illustration!’ and the ideas just start flowing, but for those times when I can’t get myself into the mood or I can’t feel any inspiration coming then I start to check out illustrations online to get some creativity flowing. Even things such as typing phrases or keywords into google can help immensely. It’s amazing how much variety of different artwork there is out there and it’s surprising how much inspiration you can get from looking at other people’s work. Pieces that I personally love to flick through include modern and quirky works by artists such as Michael Godard and Fabio Napoleoni, but someone who I look up to as a huge inspiration for my work itself is the work by Canadian artist Nicholas Di Genova. I love the way he mixes processes such as freehand illustration and digitally enhanced methods to create something rather surreal and unique; but very, very special. It’s him who’s helped me develop a signature style myself and I do feel that a lot of my work has a thread of ‘Nicholas’ running through it.

Big Eyed Lemur by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Lemur by Kelly Blake

ST: What is the artistic process of your paintings?  For example, how did your Kinderschema series come about? Do you usually sketch first your idea?

KB: My Kinderschema Collection was originally inspired from an article which I read about cats. It basically went on to say that the reason we find cats big eyes and overly big features so adorable is because of what is genetically programmed into our heads at birth. This led me to research into the science of why the human brain naturally reacts to these traits and I came across a German term called Kinderschema. Kinderschema defines the 5 basic traits that lead us to believe an animal is adorable and these can include; a large head, a large forehead, large eyes, rounded cheeks, and soft body surfaces.  I then decided I wanted to explore some of these factors in my own work and I created an art collection of digital paintings showing us just how much we love all things cute.

When I have a rough idea in my mind of the art I want to produce, I normally go about creating a really quick drawing trying to communicate what’s inside my head. Sometimes this will turn out to be a really crude or basic sketch but I can normally see if the idea is going to work on paper. I’ll also look online and check out other artist’s work to see if this takes me into a different or more creative direction to ensure my idea will definitely look good on the page. I have found that with the majority of my illustrative art, I tend to keep working on a piece until I am 100% happy with it. My motto normally states, “the more ink on the page, the better” but there’s still a fine line between finishing and overworking a piece of art.

Lion Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Lion Woodcut by Kelly Blake

ST: What mediums and techniques do you work with?  Is there a method that speaks to you more than the others?  Why do you think that is?

KB: It’s funny because throughout all my growing years I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly which field of the creative world I wanted to merge into. This means I’ve studied everything ranging from photography to sculpture, and illustration to video editing and I’ve spent a very, very long time working hard to develop some extremely valuable skills. Due to engaging fully in many of these different fields I now feel that I can make a strong decision as to which route to progress into further. This has meant that my artwork created in the past includes a huge range of different styles but I believe this does make me stronger as an artist. It means I’m capable of merging materials and thinking outside the box. If in the future I decide to create a half illustration-half sculpture, then I know that I require the necessary skills to do so. This means that despite my love for illustrative art, I’m not tied down to producing everything in 2D.

For example, I have recently finished a collection of woodcut prints which involve intricately cutting away small sections from a wooden block. This block is then rolled with ink and printed onto a paper surface. This gives a beautifully rustic alternative to simply using paint brushed onto paper.  This method contrasts nicely to the hand drawn illustrations from some of my previous collections, or to the bold look of the lighting installations that I have formerly produced from recycled materials.

At the moment I am concentrating purely on producing this range of surrealist animal illustrations to publish into my first adult colouring book; but I love that if I choose to, I am able to stop and produce something completely different at any given time. How I feel is that if you don’t have to tie yourself down, then why do it.

ST: When you are not creating, what do you like to do?

Big Eyed Owl by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Owl by Kelly Blake

KB: Well, it’s actually funny that you ask this because I was thinking about this myself the other day. I’m currently working from my own studio at home and so I find myself working on projects throughout the majority of each day; quite often from morning through to late into the evening. I’m very dedicated to my artwork and it’s lucky that I really love what I do otherwise I don’t think I could stay so dedicated to working this hard. All I strive for is being able to maintain a well-balanced and happy life whilst spending a career doing what I love. When I actually do decide to take time off I quite like to get away from home and stay somewhere peaceful as it gives me an excuse to stop working and to clear my head. I normally spend a few days down at the sea or in the countryside with good company, and I find the calm atmosphere refreshes myself and sets me back up for busy days when I return back home. Also, archery, who doesn’t love a bit of archery? I fancy myself the Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games when nobody is looking!

ST: From a person who seems to appreciate their surroundings, I wonder who encouraged you to be artistic when you were a child?  Do you think being raised in the creative town of Bristol had an effect on you?

Cat Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Cat Woodcut by Kelly Blake

KB: To be honest, whilst growing up I’ve always considered myself a bit of a nerd. While there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd, it meant I perhaps didn’t get out as much as I should. Instead, I spent a lot of time studying and working hard throughout school and I always made sure I put everything into getting my grades as high as possible. Whilst this is obviously extremely important, it does mean I probably didn’t get as much creative influence from the city as I should have. Bristol is known as a hugely influential artistic city and I live amongst some huge pioneers of the art world. This means I was very self-dependant whilst studying and I would love to say that a certain someone was the reason for me producing art today but I don’t believe anyone really was. Sure, I had people who supported me and pushed me along but I feel confident in saying that I was the one in the driving seat of my own artistic career and hopefully this will continue for a long, long time.

ST: Any tips, advice, or ways of encouraging our scribblers? 

KB: My greatest piece of advice would be to create art that YOU love and do it for yourself and for nobody else. There’s been quite a few times in my life that I’ve produced something that the masses don’t like but the minority do. I could have succumbed to produce what most people out there would deem as ‘good art’ but then what’s the point in creating it if it’s not for yourself; then you become one of those people who have their passion turned into a chore and may become quite resentful. If I were given a penny each time someone called my work too-weird, odd, or simply had a lack of faith that it would be well received then I’d have a pretty full bank account by now. Don’t ever let someone tell you that something isn’t good enough because simply put, art is perspective and if you feel that something is to be proud of, then wave that proudness-flag up high and display your work for others to see! I guarantee you there are people out there who will absolutely adore it. Don’t give up and show those people just how creatively talented you are. 

If you wanted to check out some of my work that’s available on the market at the moment, please take a look at my website here at: dustlesssoul.wix.com/dustlesssoul

You can also purchase any artwork from my Etsy shop at: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DustlessSoulCreation

ST: Thank you, Kelly, for sharing so much valuable creative information with us! I’m sure your Kickstarter campaign will go great and your artwork will continue to inspire us!

Wolf Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Wolf Woodcut by Kelly Blake

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Scribble Artist Interview with David Devries!

Scribble Town (ST): David Devries describes himself as a, “Dad, husband, illustrator, teacher—not much of a fine artist. Though I do gallery shows I am at heart an illustrator.” After you read this Scribble interview with David, you’ll know he’s a a great artist and a lot more than that! Plus he’s got great stories to match!

David Devries, The Monster Engine master!

David Devries, The Monster Engine master!

David Devries (DD): I once did a show and my work didn’t fit the space so I offered to redo it smaller.  The shocked gallery owners said they would never ask me to alter my art— but that is what illustrators do. What’s the job? What are the parameters? When do you need it by? In terms of personal philosophy I bend the rules when I can, break them when necessary—it is why I love kids—they are all outlaws at heart.

For my commercial work, I specialize in high impact, high drama images. I also publish a book called The Monster Engine that answers the question, “What would a child’s drawing look like if painted by a professional illustrator?” The results are startling transformations of flat childlike imagery into fully painted illustrations. This technique came from my illustration work, primarily in the entertainment field– specifically the comic book, advertising and video game markets. Some of my clients include Dreamworks SKG, Lucasfilm, Universal Studios, Sega, The 3DO company, Seed Studio, ASCAP, Tor Books and Marvel and DC Comics among others. Currently, I teach at FIT and Syracuse University as well as lecturing nationwide on The Monster Engine and my illustrations.

In addition to being well versed in traditional paintings skills I’m also an accomplished Photoshop artist and was featured in Best Practice: The Pros on Adobe Photoshop by Toni Toland from Del Mar Learning (Copyright 2007).

ST: David, the list goes on!  I think it’s wonderful that you are truly collaborating with children in the creative process of these Monster Engine artworks. In what capacity can individuals and schools get involved?

Blue Boy by David Devries

Blue Boy by David Devries

DD: There are two ways.  One—I can come to your school and either do a presentation or a workshop.  Presentations are defined here and workshops are either a 3-day or 10 week class of guided storytelling and drawing lessons designed to pique the imagination and bolster burgeoning artistic skills.

The other way doesn’t involve my presence at your school.  An an elementary school art teacher can team up with a junior or senior high school art teacher to produce collaborative art between schools.  Below are two examples.

4th Graders Use Funny Movie Maker Pro to Bring Objects to Life: An Approach Explored by Many Artists (Part 2) from Suzanne Tiedemann on Vimeo.

I only ask that the teachers, if inspired by my project, please give me credit for the inspiration in their descriptions and press releases.  Also a link to my site would be very much appreciated.  I have worked a long time to build this brand and any credit helps support all that sacrifice and hard work.

B.A. Kindergarten and XRoads So. Middle School Monster Engine Project from Suzanne Tiedemann on Vimeo.

ST: How did The Monster Engine begin?  I’m sure it’s been quite the adventure!

DD: It has been an adventure.  The idea came to me about 15 years ago and has gone on to big places—recently it was covered on CBS news this morning.

From my website…”It began at the Jersey Shore in 1998, where my niece Jessica often filled my sketchbook with doodles. While I stared at them, I wondered if color, texture and shading could be applied for a 3D effect. As a painter, I made cartoons look three dimensional every day for the likes of Marvel and DC comics, so why couldn’t I apply those same techniques to a kid’s drawing? That was it… no research, no years of toil, just the curiosity of seeing Jessica’s drawings come to life.”

Minot Beaver by David Devries

Minot Beaver by David Devries

ST: I wonder how it has developed to what it is now.

DD: After my niece had inspired me with her drawing in my sketchpad I thought that it would be cool to explore this idea but I just kind of forgot about it. A few months later, I was teaching at a comic book art school. The problem I faced there was that the students didn’t appreciate abstract expressionism. I explained that abstract art is needed especially in comic book work to visualize unseen worlds–places and creatures that can’t be referenced with a photograph. They didn’t care and said they still hated abstract expressionism. That’s when it hit me. If I could render a kids drawing–really detail it–then maybe they would see that abstract painting is useful.  After all, when I do a Monster Engine painting, I am rendering it with abstract thinking and planning. It worked—some of them got the lesson. After that, I wanted to see how a series would work so I did a few Monster Engine paintings of superheroes as Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews. The series looked great and then the book idea hatched.

Purple Monkey by David Devries

Purple Monkey by David Devries

I chose monsters because I love them and so do kids. That was in 1998 and it took 6 more years to paint all the art,  do the interviews, photograph the kids and design the book. I self published a beautiful 48 page hardcover with a dust jacket in 2005 and it became an Internet hit. During the first month of his web site’s launch, the site got 17 million hits and was linked to over 12,000 blogs. A month later I was flown to Japan and appeared on Nippon TV, where I showed his work to an astonished audience.

The Monster Engine by David Devries

The Monster Engine by David Devries

The website is internationally known with book buyers from all over the world since it opened in 2005. The Monster Engine has also been featured in many magazines and newspapers including Rue Morgue magazine alongside Lemony Snicket and Clive Barker.  In 2006 The Monster Engine was given an honorable mention for “Outstanding Book of the Year” at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the category of “Most Original Concept.” I’ve been approached numerous times for TV show possibilities and but nothing has gone the distance yet.

ST: Wow! You’ve really accomplished so much! Aside from illustrating, what other kind of artwork do you do?  I have a feeling your talent goes beyond the pencil.

DD: I do concept art for games, advertising work, comic book covers and, teaching. Go to www.davedevries.com to see some stuff.

Some history:

In 2011 I finished up an expansive project called BlueShift, which is an eco-thriller, high-octane adventure – lots of action, lots of global warming. We did two issues of the graphic novel – it’s on MTV Geek I’m proud of that project.

I’m super proud though of winning a National Endowment for the Arts award last spring.  I was flown to Texas on the grant to work with underprivileged kids in Lubbock.  Watch it below or click here.

Out & About Bozeman, Dave DeVries from Lubbock ISD on Vimeo.

In addition, The Monster Engine was featured in its first commercial job.  Microsoft and Windows Phone sponsored a contest to get kids drawings in response to the following questions:

Jessica, age 4: “My Windows Phone can make kitty monsters happy with music! The kitty monster gets real real happy and dances around flowers.”

Jessica, age 4: “My Windows Phone can make kitty monsters happy with music! The kitty monster gets real real happy and dances around flowers.”

“What do you wish your Windows Phone could do? How do you imagine yourself, your family, and others using your phone?” We received tons of amazing artwork from children all around the world, each one a whimsical creation that showed how Windows Phone could help unlock a child’s imagination. It was a blast and was featured on their website—you can see them here.

Lastly, just visiting a lot of schools and doing my Monster presentations—and having a blast doing so. Here’s a video of one of them.

I use both digital and traditional paints.  For painting I use mixed media painting techniques… acrylic, airbrush and colored pencil to make the images you see.

ST: How did your creativity start to grow?  As a kid were you making art too?  If you have any stories or people that were there to encourage you, please share.

DD: I never thought of myself as an artist then. I drew pictures but no more than any other child my age. When I turned six, though, my older brother, Jack, asked me to come into his room. At the time he was the family artist—I thought I could never be as good as him. He told me to lock the door to his room. I did so. He then told me that the only way I could leave his room was if I drew from a photograph.  The idea of trying to draw from a photo was impossible to me—after all he did that–but after much crying and pleading I sat down and drew. After I was finished, the picture was so good that I drew 3 more. So, when Jack finally opened the door to his room I was a changed person—I was an artist.

As for painting—I had to wait till I was 21 years old. I lived in terror of painting till I was almost out of college—can you believe that?

ST: Baby steps…at least you took a chance and got over your fear of painting 😉  Please tell us about My Spooky Heart. I wonder what your son thinks of it now.

My Spooky Heart by David Devries

My Spooky Heart by David Devries

DD: You know I never showed it to him.  It was done for a charity and was sold shortly after his birth.  He never saw the original and I have never shown a picture of it to him. I’m waiting till he’s a bit older to appreciate it. He’s six and I would eventually  love to have a conversation with him about it and that time in our lives.

ST: What are you up to now?  We’d love to know and join you, if possible!

DD: Just school presentations and Monster Engine commissions for now.  Thinking of doing a graphic novel story based upon The Monster Engine—still a ways off but worth the journey.

ST: Go for it!  The time is now!  Any advice for our Scribblers, you’d like to share?

DD: Just always remember that your kid is always right when it comes to their work.  You cannot impose logic upon their creations. This will go a long way to making them confident in their own beliefs and decision-making skills.  No matter what they become as adults, they learn that their ideas have substance in those early years.  Just think about it—in no other school subject do kids have the right to tell a teacher that they are wrong.  Math, Science, English, or History are all quantifiable subjects. If a kid says 2+2 = 3 they are wrong no matter how they justify it.  Art isn’t quantifiable— it teaches them to rely upon their instincts.

Here is a quick time lapse video–fun to watch–wish I worked this fast.

ST: Thanks David for that!  Please check our www.themonsterengine.com & www.davedevries.com to see more of David Devries one-of-a-kind artwork!


Scribble Artist Interview with ShaoLan Hseuh!

Shaolan Hsueh, Chineasy, Kickstarter@Robert Leslie 2013

Shaolan Hsueh, Chineasy, Kickstarter@Robert Leslie 2013

Scribble Town (ST): Here with us on the Scribble Blog is ShaoLan Hseuh! ShaoLan’s creativity and energy to build Chineasy is extraordinary.  Let’s hear her story!

ShaoLan Hseuh (SH): Hi, my name is ShaoLan Hseuh and I am an entrepreneur, investor, writer, traveler and dreamer! I am also the creator and founder of Chineasy, a Chinese language methodology that will help you learn to read what many consider to be one of the hardest languages in the world to learn! Chinese!

ST: Where are you and what are you up to these days?  What does a day with ShaoLan look like?

SH: At the moment every living breathing moment is spent either working on Chineasy or with my family. With Chineasy’s Kickstarter campaign now over (having successfully raised nearly £200,000) I am now working on the hard part – fulfilling the delivery of all of the gifts I promised!

A day with me: I am a very early riser (you have to be or there just isn’t enough time in the day!), I am very into exercise and eating well and if I am not weight lifting or drinking chilled green tea then I am either with the members of my Chineasy team of my children – when they aren’t at school of course!

Chineasy Mountain

Chineasy Mountain

ST: What is Chineasy?  How did the idea for this new endeavor begin, which is so different from your past experiences?

SH: The Chinese language has long been considered the most difficult major language to learn, largely on account of the vast number and complexity of its characters. Being a Taiwanese native now living in London, this is a fact I am acutely aware of. When I began to teach my British born children Chinese, I realized just how difficult Chinese characters are for a native English speaker to learn. It was like torture for my kids! So I spent many years looking for a fun and easy way to teach them how to read Chinese. After years of searching, I realized that none of the methods out there were engaging or efficient enough. So I created my own!

Chineasy’s goal is to allow people to learn to read Chinese easily by recognizing characters through simple illustrations, but also to bridge the gap between East and West. As the best way to understand a culture is to start with its language.

Chineasy works on a simple building block principal. When you know a few key base characters (or building blocks) you can start combining them to create more complex words (compounds) which, when combined, allow you to create simple phrases and stories. It’s that easy!

Chineasy Mouth

Chineasy Mouth

ST: From what I have read online, you wear many hats and have accomplished so much across many fields.  Please let us know about this adventure you are on. How did you go from Taiwan to London?

SH: It was a very long adventure and it is one I still haven’t finished! As I child I was raised by two very artistic parents and, like most children, chose to study something as far removed from my parent’s interests as possible! As an MBA student in Taiwan I published a series of best selling software books, which were awarded ‘book of the year’. Using the royalties earned from their sale I founded my first software venture pAsia in 1995, which I grew from a team of 2 to a team of 250 by 2001. After moving to London in 2002, I began investing in and advising young technology companies through Caravel Capital, which I founded whilst studying at the University of Cambridge. Following a sabbatical in which I traveled the world I came back to London and decided to try my hand at something new. Today, I am still highly active in assisting young businesses, but I have also expanded to the mentoring and support of education, arts and culture (I am on the Business Advisory Council of Business School in Oxford University and Development Advisory Board of Victoria and Albert Museum). As a social venture, Chineasy is the culmination of both my entrepreneurial experience and my artistic childhood.

Chineasy Fire

Chineasy Fire

ST: Was there somebody that encouraged you to be creative and business savvy?  Also, how do you collaborate with the designers of Chineasy?

SH: Although everyone could be creative, having right environment is crucial. Everyone could be ‘trained’ being a savvy business person, but having good intuitive and constructive environment certainly helps. I happened to grow up in an artist family and loving arts throughout my life. I was also lucky enough to work with world class business leaders and global thought leaders. I am inspired by many people through out my journey. Many of them became my life long friends and consistently encouraged me to be ‘myself’. Being yourself and knowing what your ‘calling’ is helps you to have the vision beyond what people normally see in their ‘career’.

Originally I planed for Chineasy to be a purely personal project for my children and friends, but when I was invited to talk at TED, I started asking several illustrators to implement my creation. One day I chatted my friend Crispin Jameson, who is the director of an agency in London called Brave New World [BNW] and he recommended Noma Bar. This was how I started working with various parties in addition to Chineasy team.

ST: When you develop an illustration what is your creative process like?  What is your process for getting work out of your head and what are some favorite tools you like to use to create?  I especially love your color choices and the relationship between the image and character is so clear!  I wish I had these when I was learning Mandarin!

Chineasy Tree

Chineasy Tree

SH: The truth is it is a long and thought out process, these illustrations are much more than pretty pictures – as our three designers will tell you! Each character we create has to follow the same three guidelines: 
they have to look stunning, be stylistically consistent with what we 
have produced before and, most importantly, they have to be 
educationally effective.

Traditionally ancient Chinese was mainly Pictographic (the symbols were drawings of what they represented) yet over the past thousands of years, many of those pictographs have morphed into very different shapes from their original forms. Instead of trying to reproduce all of the historical links I use a totally refreshing approach to interoperate pictographs, as our illustrations have to be something westerners can associate therefore easier for them to remember.

Chineasy Character Development

Chineasy Character Development

Before we even start designing our team (which is made up primarily of myself, my two in-house designers, my project manager & research assistant) researches the definition, 
origin and history of the character. We then move on to the applications (for example, how to build more characters and phrases) and finally 
we consider how to make stories out of them. After this research our designers create their different interpretations 
of the character. We always have several versions and numerous drawings for each. Between us we then discuss, debate and bounce 
ideas back and forth. When we come across a challenge (which happens with nearly all of them), we discuss, sleep on it and play around with different combinations of colours, or designs.

Chineasy Sun

Chineasy Sun

Finally, whenever a new illustration is created, I show them to my children. If they can guess the answer immediately, I know we’ve got it right. If they struggle, we go back to the studio and do it all over again

ST: When you create a new Chineasy illustration do you take into consideration not only symbolic representations in Chinese characters, but also tonal sounds?

SH: Chineasy was started as a tool to teach my children how to read Chinese, not to speak, and so the illustrations are meant to act as a memory tool in literature not for sound. I am plotting a new method to teach people how to speak, which will be my primary project next Watch this space, soon I will be able to teach you to speak as well as write.

ST: What are some other hobbies or interests you like?

SH: Unsurprisingly, for someone who has done so many different things, I have a lot of hobbies! I like to keep busy and I believe that health is incredibly important! I spend a lot of time doing sports: skiing, swimming, weights, rock climbing. I love music and performing arts. This summer I did some painting class with my children. I would also love to teach them how to do calligraphy one day, just like the way my mother taught me. Everything. I am also very interested in Eastern medicine and spent some times studying acupuncture (that’s when you use needles to cure ailments, you can end up looking like a pin cushion). I am also a very big traveller and believe that you should experience the world through your own eyes if you can – not through foreign press

Chineasy Moon

Chineasy Moon

ST: How can we start using Chineasy?

SH: Its easy to become a Chineasy user. At the moment I update a Chineasy facebook page daily and already have a thriving community who seem to pick up every character I teach – it is very heartening!  I also have a website (chineasy.org) which anyone can access free of charge, as well as my newsletter which goes out to the community once a week! Now that our Kickstarter campaign has been successful I am also happy to announce that I will be having a beautiful, and educational, book published in Janurary 2014. This book will be available in both e and print formats. We are also going to produce loads of learning tools, such as flashcards and computer screensavers!

Chineasy is a gateway into the language, it is meant to help people who wish to learn, but who have always been thrown by the languages complexity. My children have learned at least 300 characters using this method and that is without vigorous lessons.

ST: I’m ready to start learning Chinese with Chineasy! Thanks ShaoLan! http://www.chineasy.org

Chineasy Person

Chineasy Person

Chineasy Door

Chineasy Door

 

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