Monday, 4 November 2019

Women Who Dared To Dream: Interview with illustrator Chein Shyan Lee

Once Upon a Time in Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream is a fully illustrated book that tells the stories of 30 inspirational women from Birmingham, past and present. We interviewed one of the incredible women who helped make the book a reality... Chein Shyan Lee, one of the illustrators:

1. How did you get involved with this book?

I am currently a full time illustrator and I was a Birmingham City University student majored in Illustration. Emma Press approached me after she took interest in my works through BCU's degree graduation show. It was a great honour to be able to illustrate 5 empowered women in government, activism and entertainment sector.

2. What was it like working on/being part of this book?

Shabana Mahmood
I always take a big interest in the publishing industry and it was the perfect opportunity for me working with Emma Press. It was an interesting project because I had to portray empowerment in each woman without overlooking their personal characteristics. Emma herself is an inspiring figure for running a publication in Jewellery Quarter and making Once Upon A Time In Birmingham happen. I would love to work more on books in the future because I think educational books are an important medium to inspire the future generation.

3. What kind of responses have you had from the book?

 Everyone loves the book, it was nice to acknowledge women are as capable as men in every aspect. I was really inspired after illustrating empowered women throughout Birmingham history. Back in my home country Malaysia, successful women are not as acknowledged as the women in England; it is really something we should strive for.

4. What has been a highlight for you of being involved in this book?

The highlight for me is getting good exposure and as well as meeting new friendly faces, Emma herself and fellow illustrators.

5. Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you?

There are many women who inspired me throughout my life. My current inspiring woman is Yayoi Kusama, an iconic contemporary artist in our time. She has received many awards for her work and exhibited in major cities. What is so inspiring about Kusama is that she put her own fear in her works, making her art pieces her alter-ego. Besides that, Kusama is also an advocate for feminist art and environment art. I hope in the future I could produce art that inspires the world too.

You can find out more about Once Upon a Time in Birmingham and order your copy (£14.99) here. 

Photo: Jack Spicer Adams

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