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Meet Jessie Lin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Lin.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jessie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m an illustrator from Shanghai, China, and I am now a second year MFA illustration student at SCAD, Atlanta. I freelanced about three years before I came here. Up to now, I’ve won several illustration awards, including 3×3, Applied Arts, and Adobe Top Talent. I have published two tutorial books, one children’s book, and one translating book in China.

Art hasn’t always been part of my life as it should have. I had to give up drawing since junior high school even though I knew I love drawing because my parents didn’t think I could make a life out of it. As a result, I chose to study business in college just as everyone else did back then, for a “better” job. I worked as a translator, and then a purchasing manager after that. Until I was almost 30 years old, I decided that it wasn’t the life I wanted. I picked up my pencils and brushes again and started a sideline. About a year after that, I thought I was ready and quit the job. Studying here is to help myself get better in the field and help building my dream more effectively.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it’s been quite tough. One of the struggles was the career change. Both my parents are teachers and quite old-fashioned, and I was over-protected as a single child. During the early time in school I was a very “good” student who would strictly follow teachers’ and parents’ instructions. I guess I didn’t exactly know what I like or didn’t realize that enthusiasm is the key to success. Through the years in college and business field, I finally had chance to catch up and really grow up, and that’s when I started to know where my true passion lies. The decision was extremely difficult. I struggled for almost a year before I decided to throw my job and everything away, and start all over. Luckily I had some savings and full support from my life partner Molly.

It is a huge risk to start a career as a freelancer. Challenge hits not only financially but also mentally. I worried about my next commission job, the number in my bank account, and the doubt from my parents. These worries still exist now, but I know a little better how to coexist with them. I used to envy those who could study art since day one, but my life experience has also been a treasure to me and my creative work.

Another major struggle was the artistic choice. There are so many ways to draw and paint, and popular styles are changing constantly like fashion. I tried a lot and decided to do the same thing, following my heart. I don’t know whether I have a style now because I’m still learning and improving, but at least people can see something in common from my different works, and I guess that’s a good start.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My main focus is illustration. I do children’s book, editorial, advertising and packaging illustrations. Last year I worked with Guomai (publisher) on the children’s book of The Little Prince (Chinese Edition). I also teach watercolor techniques and basic illustration skills, which was a very big part of my freelancing before I came to SCAD. I have published two watercolor tutorial books in China. Besides, I also do a little translation and photography work. I translated (English to Chinese) The Drawing Book of Sarah Simblet in 2018. I guess the cross-industry skills and experience makes me different, and I’m pleased to have several of them to switch so that I can keep my life vibrant.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
From what I have been through all these years, I consider doing what I love to do and being able to make a living out of it as the biggest success. Of course, everyone has ambitions and I do too. I wish that one day my name could become one of the significant ones in illustration industry. But as time goes by and especially after seeing so many crisis the world has been through, it makes me want to treasure more the chance I’ve been given. It is a great honor to gain fame, but It matters much more to be able to draw and paint my whole lifetime. I know the feeling of not having it, which makes me want to hold it even tighter and never let go. It may sound a little cliche, but even I’m already in my mid-30s, I still have 40 or 50 years ahead of me to perform arts. What’s the hurry? Just do it and enjoy.

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