Saturday, May 14, 2022

Q&A with Rich Lo



Rich Lo is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Chinese Kite Festival. His other books include Father's Chinese Opera. He was born in Canton, China, and he lives in Chicago.


Q: What inspired you to create Chinese Kite Festival?


A: I saw a documentary about Chinese artist Tyrus Wong and his kites. I found his kites fascinating. Some of his kites have multiple layers which led to my decision to make my kites with a cut paper look. 


Q: How did you create the artwork for the book?


A: The artwork is digitally created with actual watercolor washes scanned in for texture. First I sketch the kites into compositions to lay out the design of the book. Once I’m satisfied with the flow of the pages, I use the sketches as references to build the kites.


The children's book industry encourages creativity and originality, and that emboldens me not to be conventional. With the aid of shadowing, I create an illusion that the kites are built with layers of cut paper. Each kite is made to resemble an animal that is relevant to Chinese culture.


Q: The Booklist review of the book calls it “A stunning introduction and window into animal names and symbolism in Chinese culture.” What do you think of that assessment, and what do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I appreciated the Booklist review. It's quite an honor. I hope that children enjoy the illustrations, but most of all, inspire them to pursue the freedom of creativity. By connecting the kites to Chinese culture, it may encourage them to explore further China’s rich traditions and customs.


Q: How did you first get interested in creating children's picture books?


A: I hadn't thought about writing and illustrating children's books until I met literary agent Anna Olswanger. She took a chance on an unknown and guided me to seven books since 2014. Seeing improvements in each book motivates me to work hard to be better. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am presently working on a mural for the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, a window graphic for US Bank, and an Aetna Health motion graphic video.


The mural’s theme is Chinese opera, which is part of my family’s legacy. My father was a composer and band leader for the Chinese opera. This is a great honor for my family.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am working on writing about the experiences I encountered growing up as an immigrant child in America.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Rich Lo.

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