Shaun Tan

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Shaun Tan
Tan, Shaun (WFA).jpg
Born 1974 (age 39–40)
Perth
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Artist
Notable works
The Red Tree
The Lost Thing
The Arrival
Awards Numerous

http://www.shauntan.net

Shaun Tan (born 1974) is an Australian illustrator and author of children's books and speculative fiction cover artist. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated. Beside The Lost Thing, The Red Tree and The Arrival are chapterbooks he has written and illustrated.

Tan was born in Fremantle, Western Australia and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia in 1974 and, after freelancing for some years from a studio at Mount Lawley, relocated to Melbourne, Victoria in 2007.[1] In 2006, his wordless graphic novel The Arrival won the "Book of the Year" prize as part of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.[2] The same book won the Children's Book Council of Australia "Picture Book of the Year" award in 2007.[3] and the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Premier's Prize in 2006.[4]

Tan was the University of Melbourne's Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education Illustrator In Residence for two weeks through an annual Fellowship offered by the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust.[5]

In 2010, Shaun Tan was the Artist Guest of Honour at the 68th World Science Fiction Convention held in Melbourne, Australia.

For his career contribution to "children's and young adult literature in the broadest sense" Tan won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council, the biggest prize in children's literature.[6]

Tan's work has been described as an "Australian vernacular" that is "at once banal and uncanny, familiar and strange, local and universal, reassuring and scary, intimate and remote, guttersnipe and sprezzatura. No rhetoric, no straining for effect. Never other than itself."[7]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

As a boy, Tan spent time illustrating poems and stories and drawing dinosaurs, robots and spaceships. At school he was known as a talented artist.[1] At the age of eleven, he became a fan of The Twilight Zone television series as well as books that bore similar themes. Tan cites Ray Bradbury as a favorite at this time. These stories led to Tan writing his own short stories. Of his effort at writing as a youth, Tan tells, "I have a small pile of rejection letters as testament to this ambition!"[8]

Eventually he gained success with his illustrations. At the age of sixteen, Tan's first illustration appeared in the Australian magazine Aurealis in 1990.[8]

Transition to illustration[edit]

Tan almost studied to become a geneticist, and enjoyed chemistry, physics, history and English when in high school as well as art and claimed that he did not really know what he wanted to do, even at university.[8] University studies were taking him along an academic route until he "decided to stop studying and try working as an artist."[9]

Illustration was something Tan enjoyed. The decision to choose it as a career simply allowed him to make a living from drawing and painting.[9] Drawing was something he had never stopped doing, claiming "...it was one thing I could do better than anyone else when I was in school."[8]

Tan continued his education at the University of Western Australia where he studied Fine Arts, English Literature and History. While this was of interest to him, there was little studio practice involved.[9] In 1995, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.[10]

Work process[edit]

Of his actual works he has said: ‘‘I don’t think I’ve ever painted an image as a reproduction of what I’m seeing, even when I’m working in front of it. I’m always trying to create some kind of parallel equivalent."[8]

Originally, Tan worked in black and white because the final reproductions would be printed that way and this preference extended to The Stray Cat. Some black and white mediums he used included pens, inks, acrylics, charcoal, scraperboard, photocopies and linocuts.[8]

Tan's current colour works still begin as monochromatic. He uses a graphite pencil to make sketches on ordinary copy paper. The sketches are then reproduced numerous times with different versions varying with parts added or removed. Sometimes scissors are used for this purpose. The cut and paste collage idea in these early stages often extend to the finished production with many of his illustrations using such materials as "glass, metal, cuttings from other books and dead insects."[8]

Tan describes himself as a slow worker who revises his work many times along the way. He is interested in loss and alienation, and believes that children in particular react well to issues of natural justice. He feels he is "like a translator" of ideas, and is happy and flattered to see his work adapted and interpreted in film and music (such as by the Australian Chamber Orchestra).[11]

Influences[edit]

Tan draws from a large source of inspiration and cites many influences on his work. His comment on the subject is: "I’m pretty omnivorous when it comes to influences, and I like to admit this openly."[8] Some influences are very direct. The Lost Thing is a strong example where Tan makes visual references to famous artworks. Many of his influences are a lot more subtle visually, some of the influences are ideological. Below are some influences he has named in various interviews:

Patronage[edit]

The Shaun Tan Award for Young Artists is sponsored by the City of Subiaco and open to all Perth school children between 5 and 17 years. The award is aimed at encouraging creativity in two-dimensional works. It is held annually with award winners announced in May and finalists' works exhibited at the Subiaco Library (crn Rokeby and Bagot Road, Subiaco) throughout June.[13]

Awards[edit]

1992
  • L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest: First Australian to win [8]
1993
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
  • Children's Book Council of Australia, Notable Book for The Playground
  • Aurealis Conveners' Award for Excellence for The Rabbits
  • Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year, Winner for The Rabbits
  • Spectrum Gold Award for Book Illustration for The Rabbits
  • Ditmar Ditmar Award, Best Professional Artwork, shortlisted for The Rabbits, written by John Marsden
2000
  • Spectrum Gold Award for Book Illustration
  • APA Design Award for Memorial
  • Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year, Honour Book for Memorial
  • Ditmar Award, [edit] Best Artwork (Professional) for the Cover of Orb 0, Shortlisted
  • Ditmar Award, Best Artwork for Cover to The Coode St Review Of Science Fiction
  • Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, Writing for Young Adults award, Shortlisted for Lost Thing[1][14]
2001
2002
2006
  • Premier's Prize and Children's Books category winner in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards for 'The Arrival'
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011

Adaptations[edit]

  • The Red Tree, a play based on Tan's book of the same name, was commissioned by the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.[21]
  • The Red Tree, a music performance created by new composer Michael Yezerski with Richard Tognetti; performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra with the youth choir Gondwana Voices, and accompanied by images from the book.[22]
  • The Arrival. Images from this book were projected during a performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra of conductor Richard Tognetti’s arrangement of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15[22]
  • The Lost Thing has been adapted as an Oscar-winning animated short film.[23]
  • The Lost Thing inspired an album by Sydney band Lo-Tel, complete with artwork from the book.
  • The Lost Thing has also been adapted as a play by the Jigsaw Theatre Company,[24] a youth theatre company in Canberra. This was the main event for the National Gallery of Australia's Children Festival (Canberra) and at the Chookahs! Kids Festival (Melbourne) in 2006.
  • The Lost Thing was the theme for the 2006 Chookahs! Kids Festival at The Arts Centre[25] in Melbourne, with many different activities based on concepts from the book.
  • The Arrival was adapted for the stage by Red Leap Theatre.[26]
  • "The Arrival" was again projected on a screen to an orchestral score, performed by Orkestra of the Underground with 18 pieces created by musician and composer Ben Walsh. This was performed in the Opera House in Sydney, The Melbourne Recital Centre and Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide.[27]

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

As illustrator
  • Pipe, by James Moloney (1996)
  • The Stray Cat, by Steven Paulsen (1996)
  • The Doll, by Janine Burke (1997)
  • The Half Dead, by Garry Disher (1997)
  • The Viewer, written by Gary Crew (1997)
  • The Rabbits, written by John Marsden (1998)
  • The Hicksville Horror, by Nette Hilton (1999)
  • The Puppet, by Ian Bone (1999)
  • Memorial, written by Gary Crew (1999)
  • Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link (2008)
As author and illustrator

Installations[edit]

  • Mural in the Children's Section of the Subiaco Public Library (Perth, Western Australia). Size: 20 square metres[1]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Focus on Fiction - Shaun Tan, WA Author and Illustrator and publisher". Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  2. ^ 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Awards 30.05.2007
  3. ^ CBCA Book of the Year Awards - Winners 2007
  4. ^ Premier's Book Awards Hall of Fame, State Library of Western Australia
  5. ^ News : The University of Melbourne
  6. ^ a b "2011: Shaun Tan: A masterly visual storyteller". The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  7. ^ Robb, Peter (13 September 2013). "The view from outside". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Haber, Karen (December 2001). "Shaun Tan: Out of Context". Locus (12). Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  9. ^ a b c NSW HSC Online
  10. ^ AustLit Agent
  11. ^ Shaun Tan: Tales from Outer Suburbia, ABC Radio National Book Show, 2008-05-29
  12. ^ Shaun Tan: Solving the puzzle
  13. ^ Shaun Tan Award for Young Artists
  14. ^ "Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - 2000 Shortlist". State Library of Western Australia. 
  15. ^ a b World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. 
  16. ^ Locus Online News: World Fantasy Awards Winners
  17. ^ a b "2008 Hugo Award Nomination list". Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  18. ^ "Palmarès Officiel 2008 Fauve D'Or: Prix du Meilleur Album". Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême (in French). Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  19. ^ Peter Pan-priset 2011, statement of IBBY-Sweden
  20. ^ http://www.thehugoawards.org/2011/08/2011-hugo-award-winners/
  21. ^ Queensland Performing Arts Centre Media Release
  22. ^ a b Australian Chamber Orchestra The Red Tree Accessed: 2008-05-29
  23. ^ Lothian Books
  24. ^ Jigsaw Theatre Company
  25. ^ Homepage - The Arts Centre - the home of the performing arts in Melbourne
  26. ^ "The Arrival – Red Leap Theatre". Australian Stage. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 
  27. ^ "Orkestra of the Underground". 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]

  • "NSW HSC Online" [1] 1999
  • "Locus Online" [2] December 2001
  • "OzComics" [3] April 2007
  • "Articulate" [4] May 2007
  • "Newsarama" [5] October 2007
  • "The Australian" [6] May 2008
  • "ABC Radio National: The Book Show" [7] May 2008
  • "Articulate" [8] July 2008
  • "The Big Issue" [9] February 2009
  • "SlowTV" (Video) [10] August 2009
  • "BDTheque" [11] October 2011