Taili Wu, Stop-motion, illustration, education, ceramics, and animal detector based in NY.
Taili Wu, a.k.a. Monster Shaper loves making creatures and puppets. She is a stop-motion artist, illustrator, and animal detective based in NY. She was born and grew up in the countryside of Taichung, Taiwan, accompanied by beautiful farm animals, she drew inspiration from observing them and mimicking their sounds. She creates work that sparks imagination and curiosity with a sense of humour. Her favourite movie is Miyazaki’s “My neighbour Totoro”, she can’t help but look for the little Totoro's when she hikes in leafy trails. When she is not drawing, Taili loves playing with clay and making sculptures. She also enjoys teaching and has been a guest speaker at Pictoplasma NYC, School of Visual Arts, Parsons, New York Asian Women Centre, and Kids & Art Foundation. Currently, she is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts.
Find out more about how she's developed and used her talents below....
When did you start illustrating?
I love drawing since I was a kid, I remember hurrying to pick up the newspapers at the door every morning, so I can collect all the colourful advertising paper and draw on them. In college, I started working on commissioned illustration projects. One of my favourites was painting the textures for the characters and environments in the short film, Fly OutBlue, directed by my teacher, Jack Shih. In grad school, I fall in love with the human touch quality of stop-motion and started combining stop-motion and mixed mediums in my works, including cut paper, clay, collage, fabrics, wire, wood, and recycled elements.
Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?
I’ve been fortunate to have so many inspiring and supportive figures around me, from my school teachers & classmates at the School of Visual Arts, friends, colleagues, my clients, and my family. Their generosity and sharing experiences and advice with me along the way, I have them all to thank for! Among all, my mom and my husband are always my #1 supporter(s), they believe in me to pursue a career I am passionate about, no matter it is in the field of illustration, animation, ceramics, education, or all the above.
Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?
I enjoy making art and working with my hands since a young age. I may not view it as a career back then, but I knew I have art as a safe space to voice and express myself. I honour this spirit deeply on special occasions like birthdays & holidays, in which I get to design & create all kinds of fun cards (and funny sometimes) with surprises.
What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?
Animals!! I grew up in the countryside of Taiwan with many farm animals, observing their vibrant colours, motions, behaviours, and sounds have been one of my inspirations. Even after a few alarming experiences being chased by roosters, it is still worth the risk to hang out at the chicken coop sometimes :)
How would you describe your style?
Playful, fun, and tactile that makes you want to touch it. (Alright! Some might says it is childish, but I am a big kid in heart, and playing is my natural.) I enjoy sharing stories with a sense of humour, often I assigned personalities to the subjects that I am working on. For example a jar of ketchup as a disco dancing kid. I love applying mixed mediums in my work, the textures from different materials stimulate the senses and are so inviting to play with.
What is your favourite collaboration to date?
In 2020, I collaborated with the team at Something Different to create a holiday animation for a super cool Jewellery brand, Marla Aaron. It was a dream collaboration with Marla to bring the jewellery alive with personalities and characteristics, we share thoughts on what each jewellery pieces like to do and wear and eat and read, and design a home environment for each of them. It is also a timely reflection of the social distancing life, especially over the holiday. For more info and behind the scene, please take a look at: https://monstershaper.com/Marla-Holidays
What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?
I admire Illo’s nice networks and good input on project development. Also, alongside a lot of talented artists, the creative energy keeps me pushing & growing.
Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?
My favourite film director is Hayao Miyazaki, who directed many of my favourite films including My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. I admire the animation & installation works by Tabaimo, the ceramics sculpture by Lisa Larson, the playful design by Alexander Girard, the illustration & installation by Saul Steinberg, and the beautiful colours and shapes by Henri Matisse. I also adore folk art very much, I especially like the wooden animal sculptures by Felipe Benito Archulet.
Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?
I am working on a series of creatures for a ceramics wood fire event this fall. It will be a combination of animals and characters. I am very excited about the wood fire process because it brings so much mystery & surprises to the outcome.
Do you listen to podcasts?
If so, do you have a favourite? Yes and yes! Here are my top 5:
If you have any questions or a specific project in mind, please do get in touch: [email protected]
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