Pei-Hsin Cho creates delicate and intimate illustrations to express difficult emotions
Originally from Taiwan, Pei-Hsin has loved drawing since childhood. When she was old enough, her mother sent her to drawing lessons where she learned academic drawing techniques in mediums such as pencil, watercolor and ink. Subsequently, she enrolled in fine arts programs in high school and high school, but despite her obvious talent and enthusiasm, this journey was not always easy.
“At that time in Taiwan, being an artist was not a promising career and was generally seen as just a habit,” she told Creative Boom. “So I didn’t think too much about what I wanted to do at the time. I drew because I loved drawing and wanted to hone my skills.
“I always believed that I would do work related to drawing, but I dared not dream too big because the environment I grew up in had always made it seem like making art was not decent work and lead to starvation.” But after meeting inspiring artists and teachers during her studies, Pei-Hsin was encouraged to dedicate herself to art and make a positive impact through her work.
After graduating, Pei-Hsin freelanced for a year before realizing something was missing. “I always felt that I hadn’t explored the world of storytelling enough. I felt like I was finding almost what my voice could be in art, but I was letting it slip away. So I decided to go back to school and study illustration at the Royal College of Art in the UK.”
Describing his style as “delicate, sentimental, and ethereal”, Pei-Hsin’s illustrations draw primarily from classical paintings, particularly the hands of Renaissance artworks. “I’m always drawn to how these simple gestures can convey so many emotions,” she reveals. “I tend to focus on conveying emotions in my drawings, and learning from classic paintings inspires me a lot.
“When done, these paintings were meant to deliver wordless messages to reach more people. Instead of words, these feelings were subtly but powerfully expressed and evoked an emotional response in the viewer, which I try to achieve. in my art.”
Speaking of emotional responses, Pei-Hsin’s work is concerned with exploring introspection and sentimentality. She says it’s because, growing up, such emotions were rarely expressed or discouraged in her culture. And as she tried to articulate those dark feelings through words, she realized they just didn’t measure up. Instead, she turned to drawings to “fill the hole in the language of emotions”.
She adds, “Emotions are too rich in their subtleties. For me, I’ve found that the tool that works for me to deal with emotions is drawing. Emotions are easily overlooked and suppressed, especially those that are less happy, but they can make a big impact on our lives.I use them in my art not only because of my background, but also to make people ruminate on their own feelings.
In fact, emotional responses and the ability to dig into her feelings are what Pei-Hsin relies on for both her commissioned and personal work. “I’m quite sensitive, even to mundane things, which arouses various feelings and emotions,” she says. “Maybe that’s why I can always feel and identify with the item or story assigned to me. Instead of using facial expressions, I like to use mundane items to convey those emotions so that people can feel familiar and sympathize or sympathize easily.”
Pei-Hsin works with both traditional and digital media, but analog methods often dictate how she works. “Because of my love of graphite, I mimic the texture of pencils with digital brushes and draw like I draw on paper, one stroke at a time, and stack them in different tones,” she says. .
“Today, with just a few clicks on drawing software, a perfect gradient can be easily created. But I still like the old-fashioned way because drawing for me is an emotional act. The texture of how the lines pile up and the tones they become are also the texture of the emotions I try to visualize.”
What about more optimistic emotions? Is there a particular project that Pei-Hsin is proud of? “I am very proud of my recently published picture book, El Pescador y Su Alma (The Fisherman and His Soul), published by Grupo SM,” she reveals.
“It is adapted from the tale of the same title by Oscar Wilde; a story about the relationships between love, body, soul and emotions. It is my first picture book and my first longer narrative work I experimented with new things in visual storytelling, like the sequence and the layout, and I’m very happy with the result. The book is available in Spanish and will soon be published in Mandarin. I hope it will be published in English one day.
When not illustrating and creating picture books, Pei-Hsin also animates. A lifelong enthusiast of animation in general, she was also fascinated by the idea of bringing her illustrations to life. “I’m so glad I made this choice because it expanded my world of visual storytelling,” she says.
“There are now many programs where people can do simple animations, and I would recommend starting with animating simple movements. The most basic that all animation students practice at first is the ball bounce animation. This movement includes many fundamental aspects of animation that are used all the time, such as path of action, arcs, momentum, timing, key drawings, intermediate drawings, weight, speed, and substance of an object.”
Pei-Hsin is currently working on editorial illustration and animation work. However, she also started working on a new series of illustrations in collaboration with a shy and anonymous British photographer. “It’s a project combining photography and illustration, and I’m very enthusiastic about it!”