only two aka lin hsinyen is an artist from taipei. i first saw her work in anhe65. and then we met online and decided to do an interview. because i wanted my readers to learn more about her.

only two taipei

hello, lin!

please tell me about yourself.

i studied illustration and graduated from the tokyo design academy. afterwards, i worked as a character designer in tokyo for two years. about three years ago, i came back to taipei and continued my career as an illustrator.

i like to be surrounded by cute things and to observe girls’ unique emotional changes. the themes of my creation are usually about forests, nature, girls, toys, animals and other elements i feel passionate about. moreover, i like to add some dark humor into them. personally, i find the imaginary world more intriguing than reality. and illustration is my way of expressing individuality.

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what is your creative process?

when i do business jobs, i usually need to draft with pencil first. however, when i work for myself, i will sketch my idea a couple times on my notebook until i am sure of the overall layout. then i draw it on card stock with pencil. as i am not fond of foreseeing the complete picture before i finish, i often start with background coloring and paint my way through as i think. even though it is comparatively time-consuming, it usually surprises me in ways that cannot be predicted. this gives me a better opportunity to capture a momentary feeling or include daily objects around me into my creation, much like keeping a picture diary. at the same time, i like to imagine the emotions and life stories of characters under my brush. by creating a life, a story for my characters, i am able to invest myself more into the painting.

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do you have a day job or are you an independent artist?

no, i don’t have a day job now. i sell my paintings during exhibitions for a living and i also work as a freelance illustrator. one of my recent jobs was the visual identity for my friends’ tokyo-based band, glow and the forest.

mainly, my jobs are about children’s picture books and magazines. i also give picture license for the manufacture of products, for example t-shirts, accessories, bags, etc.

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what inspires you? 

the best source of inspiration, in my opinion, usually comes from everyday life. interaction and conversation with friends, books, key words on tv, dramatic inner emotions in a relationship, toys i collect, etc.

it is a habit of mine to carry a little notepad with me, so i can quickly jot down any interesting conversation and images in my head.

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how is life for an artist in taipei?

living in taiwan has its privileges. one of them is the low cost of living. more importantly, taiwan provides a relatively less competitive environment for professional illustrators. this allows the work of young artists to be seen and known. yet, a slight downside of the taiwanese illustration market is that it often favors simple cartoon icons from japan. or sarcastic style. or “kuso” style as the taiwanese would say.

therefore, creative styles that lie outside the main stream have a harder time gaining public recognition. independent artists require much more time to accumulate publicity via social media as well as to develop a sizable number of appreciators through constant interactions on home page. despite the fact that i spend most of my time drawing at home, i value every opportunity to participate in any public events and exhibitions. i believe the chance to interact with people from all spectrums is what i find most cherishable.

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can’t live without…

books and toys.

i love reading, especially novels. sometimes i like a book so much that i read it again and again. Recently, i really enjoyed reading just kids by patti smith and lord of the flies by william golding. my favorite book so far is called  divorce. It was written by a chinese writer, lao she. he wrote about  strange phenomena in chinese society with a sense of humor.

and i can’t live without toys because they always inspire me! i have a toy collection and some of the toys used to be my companions when i was a kid. some were gifts and some represent memories from good journeys. now, i just want to collect more vintage baby dolls.

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any dream collaboration?

my dream collaboration? i wish there was a chance to be interviewed by a hong kong magazine called little thing or to collaborate with my favorite brand, muchacha.

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what are your plans for the future?

in terms of future plans, i would like to continue working as an independent artist and try to explore different ways and media to express my concepts. furthermore, it would be great to exhibit outside taiwan to allow more people to get to know my work.

given the right opportunity, i would like to get in touch with my writer self and try to write a book on dark humor for adult readers.

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top 5 blogs/sites that you are currently following

1. illustration today is the blog of taiwanese illustrator anais lee. she has many interesting tips and tricks for illustrators.

2. ahcahcum muchacha is a japanese clothing brand for children and women. it’s also my favorite brand in the world!

3. mannequin village is the blog of japanese illustrator eimi.

4. little thing shop is the online shop of hong kong magazine little thing.

5. first of may studio is a music blog.

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thank you very much, lin!

keep up with lin’s work on her website and on her facebook page.

photo credits: only two