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 though, I have been learning to paint on the iPad using the Procreate app for THE OXHERD BOY book.
This video captures how I create a traditional painting. 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 texts, and sometimes I consult annotations and modern teachers. Some ideas come from Western philosophers, poets, and thinkers that dovetail well with Eastern thought. I have also collaborated with amateur writers. In fact, many of my most loved illustrations originate as suggestions and requests from readers like you, so 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 immediately come to mind are: The Little Prince, Letters to a Young Poet, In Praise of Shadows, How to Love, Frog and Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, and works by Rumi and Jimmy Liao.
WHERE CAN I BUY...?
The online store is stocked with select prints, stickers, and art cards. If you'd like to make your own prints for personal use, you can refer to the Freebies section for postcards and A4-size digital downloads.
If there are any illustrations that you'd like to buy but aren't available in the shop, do let me know at email@example.com. And, subscribe to the mailing list to be the first to know when new products become available.
I am currently closed for commissions.
IS THIS A BOOK? WHERE CAN I BUY IT?
THE OXHERD BOY book will be released in spring 2024 through Potter Gift/Penguin Random House. I am working on expanding the boy's world and adapting it to a story book format for children as well.
If you are an editor or publisher interested in working with me, please contact Liz Nealon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow my publishing journey, you can find me on Twitter at @oxherdboy. I also invite you to join The Oxherd Boy Book Community Forum, 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. Feel free to sign up here.