Creative Spotlight | Jia Guo
Published on 09 July 2021
Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make
I am a freelance illustrator, an art tutor, and a Ryde-district mum. I received a Master of Art, majoring in Drawing, from UNSW School of Art & Design. I've been working on children’s illustration, custom portraits, and picture books ever since. During the lockdown period in early 2020, I started teaching drawing workshops for local kids online. I fell in love with this new role immediately as I just love inspiring young minds with creativity.
Whereabouts do you look for creative ideas? Who or what inspires you?
My main source of inspiration are the things and people in my everyday life. Whenever I feel the need to look for inspiration, I just go for a walk -taking pictures of things that I see or observing people that I meet (not in a weird way, of course). Before the pandemic, I used to just sit in cafes and sketch strangers or make up stories about their lives in my mind for practice.
Since I have started working with children more and become a mother, I realised that children’s imagination inspires me a lot as well. Sometimes I just try my best to think like a child by adding some silliness or more vibrant colours to my work.
What is a creative project that you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of? Why?
If you asked me this question before, I would have said the project I worked with Penguin Random House New York. It was a book jacket illustration and a few interior illustrations for You May Already Be a Winner, written by Ann Dee Ellis - a heartwarming and engaging story for young adults. Working with a big publisher like Penguin really opened my eyes, as I was amazed by how comprehensive the professional process could be. But now I feel my art classes are what I’m really proud of. Truly, nothing is more rewarding than seeing the sparkles in the children’s eyes when they are inspired by what I have taught them.
Do you have any top tips for emerging artists and creatives just starting out?
I guess in addition to “Don’t give up”, I’d say: “Take your time and have a plan”. Especially at the beginning, being an artist often doesn’t pay well. Many artists may have to get a day job or work long hours. To find a balance between money and time can be very challenging, for me at least. So for that, we need a plan and a strategy. It can be a five-month plan, or a five-year one, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it has to be sustainable, so that it can keep you moving in the creative world -doing what you love and making art in your own style. One can always be an artist until the day they die. There is no retirement for artists, so why the rush.
Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch?