Animator plies her trade at home

Updated: 2011-04-01 11:06

By Wang Wei (China Daily European Weekly)

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 Animator plies her trade at home

Dragons, pagodas and the traditional lucky cloud motif are common components in Wu Yang's work. Provided to China Daily

Mythical beasts and young ideals are all part of the world which inspires a young cartoonist

By day, Wu Yang, 23, is a serious young civil servant who helps amend and draft regulations for China's fledgling animation industry. But when dusk falls, she turns into Lotulist, an ambitious young animator plotting out the paths for her comics characters.

Her first iPad comic book, Dragon Hunter, was launched in the Apple App Store on March 21. The release also launched her career as the first Chinese animator to have an e-comic book available on the App Store.

Unlike some of her university classmates who have decided to sacrifice their creativity for regular employment with computer-games companies, Wu chose to live a double life.

During the day, she works at the animation department of the Ministry of Culture. After work, she immerses herself in the world of animation.

"I struggled between the two roles a lot when I first started work three years ago," she says. "When I finished work, I had a hard time concentrating on my drawing." She calmed herself down by reading the I-Ching, the Book of Changes.

Wu says it's tough making a living as a full-time animator because the remuneration is very low. Many promising cartoonists quit after a while to work in related industries, such as becoming an art editor in media.

In contrast, going commercial can pay very well. According to blogs on sina.com, arguably the most popular on-line forum in China, just one illustration for a games company can bring in a check for 10,000 yuan (1,084 euros). In contrast, a cartoonist is paid an average of 250 yuan per page, and a "good" monthly income may translate to just 4,000 yuan.

So Wu/Lotulist opted for the double life, keeping her creative juices pure.

In her work, dragons, pagodas and the traditional lucky cloud motif are common components. She is a big fan of traditional culture, and this is reflected in her work.

The graduate from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts often studies traditional Chinese medicine, reads classic Chinese novels and appreciates Chinese pottery and ceramics.

Her debut work, The Dragon Hunter, has its roots in Chinese mythology as well, although Wu has chosen to publish the first edition in English, and online.

It tells the story of how four children embark on a journey, seeking out dragons. As the adventure progresses, they become more responsible and brave. The e-book integrates music, animation effects and games, making it even more attractive to a young audience.

The reason why her work was launched on App Store, and in English, is Lotulist's concern about piracy, a big obstacle plaguing the development of China's animation industry.

"I hope publishing it online in English makes it less possible to be knocked off than in a real book," she says. Dragon Hunter costs $4.99 (3.55 euros) online.

The work is clearly inspired by Chinese elements, but the animator admits that she is also influenced by Japanese and American styles, which were extremely popular from her childhood till now.

"I would draw a beautiful woman with a pair of big eyes and small mouth like a Japanese animator because my sense of beauty has been deeply influenced by Japanese animation," she adds.

"It is a combination of Eastern and Western elements and I call it the Lotulist style," she confidently declares.

She is certainly upbeat about the future, although she cannot say if she is willing to invest a life-time commitment.

"I may try many other careers in life and never be a full-time cartoonist, but there is always an important part for animation in my heart because I love it truly and deeply."


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