We are very blessed to have so many creative and talented strong female we can call friends. Ethel is one of those women. I still remember the days when I took her under my wing in London (the way Chris did for me) and now she is a well established illustrator, business owner and an expecting mother. The talented illustrator behind Bunny Whispers.
Ethel, growing up, did you always thought that you would be an illustrator?
Ethel: I always loved drawing as a child so I always knew I wanted to be an artist. As a child I didn’t know of the profession ‘illustrator’, all I knew was how much I loved drawing and always held on to the dream of being an artist one day.
How did you discover your passion for drawing?
Ethel: Growing up I went to a local school in Hong Kong, the focus of Asian local schools are highly academic based, I struggled a lot in all my other subjects but excelled in drawing and that’s where I felt the most comfortable, confident and true to who I am. It was in a way my safe haven.
Having been to a local school in my earlier day, I have experience the pressure of it first hand. Did it ever get to you, making you feel less than the other kids at school because you weren’t conventional ‘smart’ as you talent was elsewhere?
It did make me feel that way every now and then but my parents were really supportive of my passion and love for art, so those feelings never lingered too long.
So did your parents ever asked you to consider any alternative career choices other than being an artist?
My dad said to me that the reason why he works so hard is that he wanted to give us an opportunity to chase our dreams. It wouldn’t make him really sad if we lived a life other than that one we wanted for ourselves.
That’s really amazing to know that your parents were always very supportive of your dream in art, it’s quite rare in the Eastern culture. Can you tell us how you transitioned from wanting to be an artist to becoming an illustrator?
When I was granted the opportunity to move to England for my foundation year, it was then when I discovered that there are so many aspects to art and that my style is very well suited towards illustration. I really love browsing the art section in book stores and I always gravitated towards illustrated children’s book. That’s when I decided that this was the direction I was going to pursue.
I know Bunny Whispers was your first published illustrated children’s book, how did you manage that right out of university?
Bunny Whispers was a project during my Master program, I posted some of the illustration on social media and I was very lucky that it got spotted by a local Hong Kong creative agency. They connected me with a publisher and that’s how it was published. I’m very grateful and consider myself very lucky that I got the opportunity to have my work published.
That’s really amazing! Can you tell us about Bunny Whispers. What was the inspiration behind it?
My husband Dixon was the inspiration to my Bunny. When we used to spend time at his place, I always noticed that he had a bunny on his bed and as we began spending more time together, the bunny became part of our relationship so one day I decided to draw my own version of this bunny. To me my husband looks a little bit like a bear so that’s when I decided to create a little bear for my bunny.
So can you tell us a little bit about the story of Bunny Whispers?
The story of Bunny Whisper plays on the idea of Chinese Whisper, how an innocent friendly bear living in the mountains, through gossip (Chinese whisper) turned him into a bunny eating monster.
Chinese Whisper : both a Chinese saying and a game that are played amongst kids; it illustrates the idea of how one idea/story can turn into something completely unrelated by simple gossip.
The moral of the story is great and I love the teachings behind it. Thank you so much again for talking to me and sharing such wonderful insights for any aspiring illustrator, inspired young girls or expecting mothers. I cannot wait to meet little baby Chau!
We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Ethel, do let us know what you think.
with love and quirks,
Iris and Chris xxx