Guo Zhen Yan

A native of Pingtung County, Taiwan, Guo Zhen Yan was born in 1992 and graduated from the Japanese Department of Ping Rong High School.

During Junior High School, she studied under the famous calligraphy artist Chen Bo Zhi. In 2012, she began to learn how to paint Buddhist art under the tutelage of Master Lai Jun Rong.

“I loved drawing pictures since I was a kid. When I was in high school, my parents supported my attendance of art classes while I was studying Japanese.”

Her solid foundation in Chinese painting was laid under the guidance of her first teacher Chen Bo Zhi. After graduating from high school, she decided to become a professional artist and went north to Tainan to study painting the different forms of Buddha for three years and four months under Master Lai Jun Rong.

Guo Zhen Yan has developed her own unique style with her solid background in Chinese art. Her paintings are meticulously detailed with clean lines and vibrant colours, reflecting her spirit as she creates brilliant works of art.

Beautifully illustrated pictures books were one of Yong Yee’s favourite things since she was a little one. Her father used to bring she and her siblings to bookstores to get some books once every two weeks. Yong Yee would only choose books with a lot of illustrations and spent hours indulging in those books, reading stories and admiring their art.

Yong Yee enjoyed them so much that she would keep going back for more. It has always been this way, until one day her father asked her to pick books with more words in them, just like her younger sister was doing. Soon, she stopped looking at picture books. “Guess I grew too old for them,” was what she thought.

As an adult now with her own knowledge, experience and beliefs, Yong Yee has felt that the intention parents have to rush their kids out of picture books can easily be understood. They are simply trying to make sure their children are not left behind in the academic track.

Yong Yee has always wanted to ask, why do we value illustrations in picture books less? There are people that perceive things better with pictures than words. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Thus, why should these interests be perceived as being less worthy?

Yong Yee felt that she was a person who could enjoy reading a picture book many times, but only read the chapter of a normal book once because pictures with words gave her context and allowed her to imagine and learn more. Is it not the case that some of the best books can give you new perspectives, yet they do not always only come in words?

As Yong Yee embarks on this mission to become an illustrator, her wish is that she will be able to deliver the message that enjoying artwork in the form of illustration with imagery, fantastical worlds, and inspiring takeaways should never be viewed as less worthy than reading.  Both are great gifts that we should appreciate. Nevertheless, may we all have the courage and determination to pursue what we love in our very own way.