FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I was born and grew up in the US to Taiwanese immigrants. I've lived in different parts of the country, and also Chile and Peru. I moved to Taiwan in 2018 and am living here still.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE "THE OXHERD BOY"?
My son was getting to an age when he loved asking Big Questions that I had a hard time answering in a kind and honest way. Challenged by a quote from Albert Einstein -- "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't really understand it." -- and inspired by Charlie Mackesy's work, I set out to create a set of characters that embodied the crux of Chinese philosophical-religious thought who would help my son explore his curiosity about life, death, friendship, justice, loss, and everything in between.
DO YOU DRAW OR MAKE THESE YOURSELF? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE?
Yes, I generally use traditional Chinese painting brushes, sumi-e ink, watercolor, and other mineral pigments on rice paper or stretched silk. Lately I have been experimenting with painting on the iPad to more quickly conceptualize pieces to work on.
This video captures how I create a painting for each Oxherd Boy comic. Starting with a composition in my sketchbook, I trace the outline onto rice paper using sumi-e ink. Then, comes the painstaking work of layering on the underpainting and color through a particular gongbi technique that uses two brushes at a time. I then add the background and digitally render text and any finishing touches.
WHY THE OX? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
There is a famous parable of the Ox in Buddhism that compares the taming of an ox to each person's journey to enlightenment. That is where the name Oxherd Boy comes from.
The Ox is also a highly valued animal in many cultures for its honesty, humility, diligence, and strength and is a revered symbol in Taoism as well.
Together with the Boy and the Rabbit, the Ox and his companions represent the three branches of Classical Chinese philosophy: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR QUOTES FROM?
I rely on a number of sources to inspire the conversations my characters have. Sometimes I refer directly to Classical text, sometimes I consult annotations and modern teachers. Some ideas come from Western philosophers, poets, and thinkers as well. I have also collaborated with amateur writers as well. Many of my most loved illustrations originate as suggestions and requests from readers like you. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom with me.
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RECOMMEND?
I think different books touch different people in unique ways at different times. For now, the ones that come to mind are:
The Little Prince
Letters to a Young Poet
In Praise of Shadows
How to Love
Frog and Toad
WHERE CAN I BUY...?
I am currently open for commissions to paint original Oxherd Boy artwork, as well as other illustrations. My general flat rate is US$1 per square centimeter, though that can vary depending on the complexity of the work.
The online store is stocked with free digital files to download and make postcards or prints for your personal use. Given the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted delivery to many countries, I will wait to include physical products in the future. Please subscribe to the mailing list to be the first to know when that changes.
IS THIS A BOOK? WHERE CAN I BUY IT?
"The Oxherd Boy" is not a book, though I am working on expanding the boy's world and adapting it to a story book format for children and their grown ups. To follow my publishing journey, you can find me on Twitter @oxherdboy.
If you are and editor or publisher interested in this work, please contact Liz Nealon at email@example.com.
I invite you to join The Oxherd Boy Book Club, a worldwide community following the development of the book as I create it. I hope to share story ideas and illustrations, as well as the many joys and frustrations that I'll experience along the way. Sign up here.