Chen, Chu-li


The year I spent in Brighton studying illustration was one of the happiest years of my life. It was my second year in the United Kingdom, my English was improving, and I already understood ninety per cent of what my professor, George Hardie, was saying. I could even translate things for my classmate. ‘Batch production’, however, was something I did not understand, despite having checked the dictionary.

This was, precisely, one of the tasks proposed by George. I knew I wanted to make books, and since I had been gathering some ideas about human types and cultural differences, it did not take long to come to the following conclusion: ‘Great! And why don’t I make books about these characters?’. I suppose at that time I was experiencing quite a big cultural shock, which is where my interest on different human behaviours came from. My ‘batch production’ resulted in five different books developed in the form of flipbooks, instead of five copies of the same book. On the day of the assessment, George told me he was unsure if my books were ‘batch produced’, but that he found them fascinating nonetheless. (The truth is, after all this time, I am still unaware if I did the task well or not.)

I liked studying in Brighton. No one there told me: this is right, this is wrong. The professors never told us what we had to do, they encouraged us to present our own ideas, which was very different to the education I had received in Taiwan. Mr. Pusillanimous, without having to go far, was inspired by one of the other Taiwanese students at the school: he wanted to be invisible so the teacher would not see him, to avoid being asked a question, for fear of giving a wrong answer.

Although I have long ago stopped being a student, I continue to learn, and every day I am grateful for what I experienced during that period. The time I spent in Europe has taught me the importance of communication, and how wonderful it is to be able to express our ideas and thoughts.

Chu-li Chen

Chu-li Chen was born in Taichung (Taiwan). She studied Art in Taipei and furthered her studies in the United Kingdom and in Spain. She has lived in Granada, a city she loves, where she met a family of Granados. She likes to photograph tiles, manhole covers, and clouds of rare shapes. She has travelled to many places, even the desert. She collects maps. In 2013 she published a book, ¡Mucho gusto, España! (With pleasure, Spain!), which reflects her enthusiasm for this country. Although it may seem she does everything well (even paella!), she also has some flaws, but this is not the book to reveal them.