Once upon a time…. Cher Jiang is an artist from China, where she grew up in the countryside. As such, she didn’t have many friends. “Art was something I could play with. So I made art,” said Cher. Indeed Cher and art have become very good friends over the years. In China, she is known as one of the most popular illustrators for children’s books and her technique is referred to as “Cher’s Style.” Here in Missouri, she’s becoming increasingly known for her imaginative drawings and paintings. Residing in Carthage, Missouri, Cher continues to publish illustrations in China, as well as for Precious Moments. She also makes custom illustrations. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Cher to discuss her art, some of which is currently on exhibit through June at the Post Memorial Art Reference Library.
My comments/questions are in bold,
whereas Cher’s are not.
You’ve been illustrating for over ten years. What did you do before you became an illustrator?
I was a computer video game designer. I designed characters and made 3-D models on the computer and painted it. I like illustration better. I wish to be an international illustrator.
I see that you like to take photos and recreate the scene using animals. Why do you illustrate the people as animals?
Animals make it more beautiful and happy. I like to use the cute, nice animals.
You’ve created Cher’s Fairyland. Why do you like the fairytale style?
I like fairytale style because I want people to be happy. I turn life into a fairytale.
Could you tell me about your creative process?
I make the drawings and scan them on the computer to add color. Computer drawing is very popular in China. I wanted my unique style. I always draw in pencil first.
Where do you draw?
Everywhere! I’m uncomfortable when I’m not drawing. My husband drives, I draw in the car. I draw at dinner, on vacations. Once it’s done, I move on to the next one. I enjoy the process, but when I’m done I’m thinking of new things I can draw.
How do you add the color to the illustrations?
I use Photoshop to add color.
Why do you prefer to add color on a computer?
I like to do it on the computer because the colors are more vivid. Sometimes when you scan a painting the colors do not turn out.
But you also paint. Could you tell me about the paintings in this exhibit?
These are mixed media of acrylic, oil and Chinese watercolor.
Your art often brings together Eastern and Western elements.
Yes, my characters are more Western looking because I like [the diversity of] Western style. But my technique is more Eastern. I have one of the Phelps House [a local historically significant home] with water lilies. The water lilies are very Chinese.
The Phelps House is but one of many local/historical structures in your art. What are some others?
Fantastic Caverns, Silver Dollar City, the Neosho Fish Hatchery, Red Oak II and the Carthage Courthouse.
Most of your illustrations are published in China as magazine covers. And you’ve illustrated a Chinese children’s book. Have you illustrated any books in English?
I have illustrated one, but it’s not published yet.
How is your art viewed in China compared to here? Are the same pieces popular?
I think it’s viewed about the same. The tree house is the most popular.
Which is your favorite piece?
My favorite always is my next one!
It’s a way to show others how I see the world.
To see the world from Cher’s enchanted perspective or to learn more about her Art Services, visit Cher’s Fairyland at www.chersfairyland.com & like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/faityland.cher