Taiwanese illustrator Whooli Chen creates worlds teeming with flowers and plants and fills them with characters from her wildly active imagination. In these fantastical worlds, you might see flowers sprouting from a girl’s eyes, flames leaping from a boy’s heart, or a pair of hands manipulating reality from the side of the frame. Her illustrations are like fables or fairy tales, but a happy ending isn’t guaranteed.
来自台湾的插画家 陈狐狸 (Whooli Chen)，喜欢营造一个充满花花草草的世界，让一些胡思乱想的人和动物穿梭其中。在她的幻想里，女孩的眼睛可以长出无名花，男孩可以拥有一颗野火燎原的心脏，或是一双手从旁生出来操弄现实。她的画是无数则不一定会有美好结局的寓言童话。
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Chen moved to the UK to pursue a master’s degree in illustration. It was there that she chose her artistic name. “A few months before I left London, looking out from my window to the house across the way, I noticed a red fox that would often bask in the backyard sun,” she says. “It’s one of my last memories of my time there, so I chose the name ‘Chen Whooli’ on a whim as a tribute to that fox and that city.” (Whooli is pronounced huli, which means “fox” in Chinese.)
Chen likes the tactile simplicity of pencil and paper, so when working on a new illustration, she often starts with a hand-drawn sketch. Afterward she’ll scan and color it digitally. Attentive to details, her illustrations often include subtleties that are designed to be appreciated by the keenest of observers. Her illustrations feel like pop-up books – they’re immersive and beckon viewers into each frame.
While her style is soft and delicate, a sense of melancholy seems to linger. But rather than asking the artist to define the messages and themes behind her works, it’s much more fun to wander into Chen’s make-believe worlds and conjure up stories of your own.
Chen’s rich, vibrant style is revealing of the artists who’ve influenced her. “I think artistic creation is a process of gradual change. You’re constantly taking in new stimuli, integrating them into your own style. I really like early Western naturalist prints, along with Persian miniatures and early Japanese woodcuts. Every so often I’ll come across a new artist I like, such as early 20th-century French illustrator George Barbier, who I recently discovered and think is really great.”
繁复多彩的创作风格，也许是受到平常喜欢艺术家的影响。“我觉得创作是一个缓慢变动的过程，不停地吸收新的刺激，再融入原本的风格。我很喜欢西方早期动植物学的版画，也喜欢波斯细密画，和日本早期的木刻版画。通常每隔一段时间会接触到新的喜欢的图像作品，我最近的新发现是百年前的法国插画家 George Barbier，觉得很喜欢。”
Now that she’s a full-time illustrator, Chen often finds that her professional and personal interests are hard to separate. Still, even with her busy life, she likes to take things slow in her free time. “I mostly like to read, watch films, go on easy hikes, stroll around the nearby alleyways of the old city, and spend time relaxing,” she says.
But aside from her passion for illustration, Chen is also an avid writer. Sometime-Else Practice is a side project she runs with graphic designer Chen Jibao. “It’s a way for us to freely practice creative forms we enjoy outside of our jobs,” she tells us. “We write about art, illustration, and photography in an expressive style – almost going overboard in talking about works we like.”
If you like Chen’s drawings, you can see a different side of her work by clicking here.
除了画画，陈狐狸也写字 —— 以后, 练习室 “sometime-else practice.” 是她和伙伴陈吉宝一起经营的计划。“这是一个在工作之外，让我们自由练习喜欢创作方式的地方。我们用比较抒情的文体去书写艺术、插画和摄影，有点自溺的去讨论我们喜欢的作品。” 如果你喜欢陈狐狸的画，也可点击此处，看看她另外一种创作形式。