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Taiwanese illustrator extends his reach beyond Asia

Taiwanese illustrator extends his reach beyond Asia

CNA photo No. 67 Taipei, April 5 (CNA) Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao has enjoyed unparalleled success over the past decade in the Far East, but his recent collaborations with British and American publishers on children's books show that his drawings speak a universal language.

The well-known author-illustrator, known popularly as simply "Jimmy," started his career by depicting the lives of ordinary people coping in the modern urban world, and works based on that theme became big hits in Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and many other Asian markets during the past 10 years.

Building on that success, he is now extending his reach by illustrating children's books written by English-language writers.

His first collaboration with an American publisher -- "I Can be Anything" -- was published last month, said his agent Lee Yusan.

He hopes it will earn him the same acclaim as his first project with the West, "The Monster Who Ate Darkness," published last year by U.K.-based publisher Walker Books for children above three years old.

Written by English author Joyce Dunbar, the book tells the story of a tiny monster that lives under a child's bed and discovers it likes to eat darkness.

"The book has now been translated into Chinese, and is doing very well in the Chinese market, which has been a surprise to the English publisher, " said Lee, who attributed the success to Jimmy's many fans there.

In a previous press conference, the shy illustrator admitted that drawing for children has always been his dream, and his output reflects his passion.

His abundant creativity came through in "I Can Be Anything, " an imaginative joyride about hopes and dreams that was written by Newbery-Award winning American author Jerry Spinelli and published by Little, Brown and Company.

And there's more to come.

"Readers will not need to wait too long to see the Jimmy's third work, which has been completed and sent to Walker Books, " revealed Lee, who has been responsible for promoting Jimmy's art and related products to other parts of Asia.

In addition to pitching his books, Lee is also organizing a "Jimmy art center" in Taipei that will incorporate the illustrator's art and ideas in the center's design and decor.

"I hope the center can open in the first half of the year, " Lee said.

Jimmy's success has been largely driven by his own creativity, hard work, and Lee's help. But a major blow he suffered 15 years ago, when he was diagnosed with leukemia, marked a turning point in his life -- and work -- that only added to his drawings' appeal.

His depictions of people became proportionally smaller, a kind of recognition that they could not change the big world, but they face life and the world with grace and a positive attitude.

That may be the main reason why his works move and resonate with readers and provide them with comfort, one reviewer suggested.

(By Sunnie Chen)

Updated : 2021-08-02 07:40 GMT+08:00