Born in Jinan in Shandong province, Li Shuai is a graphic designer and illustrator who is now currently based in Shanghai. She works full-time as a graphic designer, but in her free time, she creates colorful pencil and ink illustrations as a means of expressing her personal emotions and views. Her artwork is often a reflection of her daily life, inner thoughts, as well as feelings towards various worldly issues. Li Shuai’s goal is to make people think more with her visual stories. Her collection of work includes Someone and FLASH ACTION, along with her educational children’s books Veruca’s Home and A First Book of Hairstyle.
来自山东济南的李帅，现在是一名居住在上海的平面设计师和插画师。在平面设计工作之外，她喜欢用颜色来表达自己的情绪和观点；用画面记录自己生活中的故事、内向的想法，或者是对于自己不能触及到事物的感受；用讲述故事引发读者更多的思考。她的作品包括《Someone》、《FLASH ACTION》等，以及《Veruca’s Home》和《A First Book of Hairstyle》这样的儿童教育绘本。
After graduating from Northeastern University in 2011 with a degree in graphic design, Li Shuai decided to move to the UK. There, she continued her studies of graphic design and illustration – first at Kingston University, and then later at the Edinburgh College of Art. In her first year of living abroad, she met a Portuguese illustrator. This new acquaintance showed her a side of painting she’s never seen before. She no longer dwelled on the techniques of other artists, their content matter, or subject, but rather started creating from her heart with a focus on feelings and emotions rather than the technical aspects. Her mentality shifted and saw the process of creating art more as a means of self-expression, which led to her following a mantra of “BE MYSELF!” Around this time, she began to sit in on illustration classes and attending more workshops. This was when Li Shuai met Robin Harris, a professor of illustration, who then became a mentor to her. “He provided me a lot of information, and a back-and-forth with him through e-mail helped me solve a lot of problems,” she says. It was during this time when Li Shuai first began her official foray into the world of illustration.
2011年从东北大学的平面设计毕业后，李帅前往英国，分别于金士顿大学和爱丁堡艺术学院研读平面设计和插画艺术。来到英国的第一年，她认识了一位葡萄牙插画师。这位插画师的作品以及他讲的诸多故事，让原本就喜欢画画的李帅看到了绘画不一样的一面。她不再只一味研究别人的绘画技法、内容以及题材，而是开始跟随感觉用插画去表达自己，简而言之，“ BE MYSELF! ”。而后，她开始经常去插画系蹭课，参加他们的workshop，在那认识的插画系教授Robin在后来的日子里更是给予她很多指导。“他给了我很多资料，和他的邮件来往帮我解除了很多疑问”李帅说道。自此，她踏上了插画的创作之路。
In the beginning, children’s picture books were the first thing that appealed to her. She says, “The picture books for young kids in England are really interesting. They explore a variety of subjects, and some even tell strange and horrific stories in a cutesy and charming way. This was what attracted me to them.” At the same time, she was interested in hairstyles, and researched the interesting characteristics of different styles of hair in Egypt, Greece, France, among other European countries. And thus her interactive children’s illustration book A First Book of Hairstyle came into being. This project made her realize she enjoys illustrative projects that takes a lengthier amount of time to complete. “This way, I can dig deeper into my own mind and produce something that more people will find interesting,” she explains.
儿童绘本是最先吸引到她的一种插画。她说:“英国的儿童绘本很有意思，各种题材都有。有的居然可以用很可爱的方式讲述略恐怖诡异的剧情，当时对于我来说很有吸引力。”出于对发型的兴趣，对埃及、希腊、法国等欧洲国家有趣且特殊的发型进行一番研究后，她创作了一本适合给小朋友看的互动插画书籍，于是有了《A First Book of Hairstyle》。这个项目也让她意识到自己喜欢时间稍微长一点的插画项目，“这样子我可以发掘且自产很多能让大家觉得有意思的东西”。
Later at Edinburgh, she invested a year towards studying the subject of humans that eat dog meat to fully develop her emotions, views and opinions towards the matter. Eating Dogs in China was the project that resulted from this period of time, which involves two illustrated storybooks, a graphic map, and four zines. She says, “In this project, my favorite piece of work was the graphics map which I sketched out with pencils. At the time, the creepy scenes in the Hannibal television series really inspired me.” This project ignited her interest with creating art based on her observations of current societal issues. Another theme Li Shuai started exploring was the single child policy in China and how it ties into the way Chinese parents spoil their kids. Despite the extreme nature of the topic, she succeeded by going with a tactful approach and painting it into a meaningful narrative that explored ideas beyond the original topic. She says, “everyone loves seeing beautiful things, but in reality, the ugly things that people don’t want to see is way more thought-provoking. To present the complexities of societal issues in a simple and quirky way is actually really fun for me.”
之后在爱丁堡的时候，她花了一年时间来发掘自己对于“人吃狗肉”这个事情的感觉、看法和观点。《Eating Dogs in China》项目就是这样诞生的，是李帅对于社会问题的关注的起点。这个项目包含了两本插画故事书籍，graphic map，四本zine。她说: “在这个项目中，我自己最喜欢的是用素描来表现的graphics map。当时美剧《汉尼拔》里面的一些恐怖场景也给我了很多灵感。”此外，独身子女政策下中国家长对孩子的溺爱也是她表现的另一个主题。 她成功地以一种委婉的方式，用自己的画笔为这些具有极端倾向的话题注入叙述性，从而让画面超越她所表达的主题。她认为:“大家都喜欢美好的事物，但是其实不美好的事物更加会引起大家的思考。把复杂的社会性问题用比较简单且有趣味的形式表达出来也是很好玩的。”
Like many artists, Li Shuai unashamedly reveals she also started by imitating the style of her favorite illustrators. But now, having found her own artistic voice, she has begun experimenting with different types of paint and techniques. As a way of training her sensitivity to colors, she started combining colored pencils with ink to create some of her recent artwork. She says her favorite artist and a big inspiration is Australian architect and illustrator Hundred Wasser. His selective use of colors and shapes creates surreal dream-like scenes that have left a deep impression on her. As far as storytelling goes, she shares, “I don’t like the traditional storytelling style, I like it when an artist might have a personal interpretation of their work, but viewers are able to extract their own meaning out of it.”
固然也曾和很多人一样，选择模仿自己喜欢的插画师以及插画风格，但现在她倾向于基于自己的想法，探索不同绘画材质碰撞出的火花。为了锻炼自己的色彩敏感度，她使用彩色铅笔结合ink创作。说到色彩，李帅说她最爱奥地利艺术家和建筑师Hundert Wasser，他的色彩以及运用形状来表现的画面营造出近乎梦境的景象给了她很多启发。 至于讲故事，她是这么看的:“我自己不是很喜欢传统意义的讲故事风格。我喜欢那种自己给画面某种特殊定义，但是每个人又会有自己的不同理解的画面。 ”
As a versatile multi-disciplined designer, Li Shuai has also revealed some plans of wanting to dabble in different mediums. She expressed interest in playing around with textile design, and also experimenting with 3D illustration techniques used in exhibition design. According to Li Shuai, being creative is as easy as “identifying what interests you – then actually working towards creating it after forming the idea, maintaining an open mind to keep a fresh perspective on things, and trying things you’ve never tried before.”
自诩多技能设计师的她，表示近期她还想创作一些印花设计，以及应用于展示设计中的3D插画创作。总之，创作于她就是“发现自己喜欢的感兴趣的点， 想到然后再做到， 保持对于新鲜事物的感受，然后尝试自己未曾尝试的东西。”