Bo Yang painting

Bo Yang

Students & Alumni. Children's Book Illustrator.

Bo Yang is a freelance illustrator in Beijing, and a graduate of ARU's MA Children's Book Illustration course.

What have you been doing since graduating from ARU?

As a freelance illustrator, I have been focusing on children’s book illustration after graduating from ARU. I have finished dozens of illustrations of novels and several picture books now. In the same time, I teach illustration courses at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology to undergraduate students.

Photo of Bo Yang giving a talk above a photo of an inside spread of a book
TV feature on Bo's book "The Fox's Friend"

What one thing inspired you to do what you do now?

I like to express. I think story and drawing are the way of expression to me. I like to share my thoughts, stories and experiences. I realised when I express myself that will affect other people. I want to be a storyteller. I need to find a fantasy, and a way beyond language to express it. I think illustration is a suitable way that can be felt and understood without language. When I draw, my stories and ideas can be shared with more people. Therefore, I like drawing, and that is very important to me.

What’s the most valuable thing you took away from your education?

The most valuable thing was the theory of how to create a children’s book. I wrote my first picture book The Fox’s Friend in my MA period at ARU. The book was published by Daylight publishing house. The story is about how a fox and a wild goose find friendship and get through the winter. I had a problem that was how to use the storyboard to express the tension in the book when I was a student. I made an appointment with tutor Maisie Paradise Shearring. Maisie recommended the movie ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ to me. The movie storyboard inspired me. I referred the close-up of the eyes in the film to my illustrations, to focus on the character’s mood.

Bo Yang discussing a book with another man

Which aspects of the course most helped your career development, and why?

Every week, children’s book authors lectured at ARU. The lectures narrowed the distance between students and writers. I could learn how real children’s book authors think, live and work. It made me more confident in my career for the future.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would say 'you should not only do more, but think more' to my younger self.

A young Bo Yang making art at school

What was your favourite thing about studying in Cambridge?

I loved punting in the river Cam. I read Xu Zhimo's poem ‘Farewell againCambridge’ when I was kid, so punting made me remember my childhood and relax.

What projects are you currently working on?

I will continue to publish my new picture books in the future.

I am cooperating with the author Chang Li, drawing a new picture book I Hear the Singing From Everything, that will be published this year (2021). The story is about a girl with Dysaudia who can only hear sounds like "click click". After entering school and learning sign language, she gains not only precious friendship, but also a more wonderful world. She "hears" the singing of everything. When I drew this picture book, my mentality was different from when I graduated. As a student, I only created picture books that were fun. But when working, I think the picturebook author should have social responsibility. This book makes more readers pay attention to dysaudia and understand the loneliness and difficulties of it.

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