Who has ever seen a “Snowy Shenzhen?” Well, Huang Qingsong, for one, and everyone else who has come across his set of popular black-and-white postcards, in which the young man from Fujian Province imagines Shenzhen in a creative way.
Landmarks in Shenzhen, including Diwang Mansion, which was once the tallest building in the city, stand against a snowy background in the postcards.
Huang said he is not a mainstream illustrator because he never makes plans for his drawings.
“I just draw whatever comes to my mind,” he said.
Thanks to Huang’s imagination, Shenzhen has been reimagined in a new way on posters, desk calendars and postcards.
‘Cool to make Shenzhen snow’
“Summer is very hot in Shenzhen. It might be cool to make Shenzhen snow in my drawings,” said Huang as he recalled his motivation to create the postcards.
When Huang came to Shenzhen eight years ago, he worked in a furniture factory in Longgang District for two years.
He mainly drew designs for furniture in the factory.
“I came to Shenzhen because the city is young and was the subject of several popular songs at that time,” said Huang, who plays guitar. “I like music and thought Shenzhen would be a good place for young people.”
Despite working six days a week, Huang always made time to take the bus around the city with pencil and notebook in hand, observing and sketching the city as he went.
“I often went up to the roof of the factory building after work, drawing how Shenzhen looked to my eyes,” he said. “My friends helped me pick seven out of the dozens of pictures that I drew during that period, which made up the ‘Snowy Shenzhen’ collection,” said Huang.
Two years later, Huang switched to a job at a design company, where he made friends with numerous other young designers.
“I got in touch with graphic designers, copywriters, etc.” he recalled. “We played music and went hiking together after work.”
Success at the bazaar
With “Snowy Shenzhen” completed, Huang applied for a place at a creative bazaar in OCT, Nanshan District, where people sold their artwork and crafts in July 2010.
“I stuffed tons of postcards into a big, black backpack and went to the bazaar,” the artist remembered. “I knew nothing about promotion. I had no tablecloth or poster. I just put the postcards on a table.”
On his first morning at the hustling-and-bustling bazaar, Huang only sold 30 yuan (US$4.92) worth of postcards. He said he didn’t know how to market himself and intrigue customers.
During his lunch break, a girl next to his table lent him a tablecloth, and Huang rearranged the postcards on it.
That afternoon, Huang started actively introducing his work to browsing customers.
“I realized nobody would pay attention to me if I kept silent,” he said.
Due to his newfound enthusiasm for self-promotion, Huang made another 1,000 yuan to finish out the day.
The success gave him confidence and he soon quit his job at the design company. He started concentrating on drawing.
“I wanted very much to have my own collection and picture book. Many painters and illustrators live by selling their drawings, but I didn’t want to follow suit,” said Huang, who decided to present his drawings on media such as postcards and desk calendars.
“I sell these forms of media and that way my drawings still belong to me,” he said.
Taking life and art slow
“My favorite time to draw is when I’m waiting for a bus. I draw buildings, roads and people waiting. I’m addicted to drawing,” he said.
However, Huang said he prefers a slow, lazy life, so he takes his time on his drawings, meaning he doesn’t have a large body of work.
“I never force myself to draw. When I feel tired, I go out to play. Such a slow pace makes it impossible for me to get fed up with drawing,” he said.
According to Huang, people, especially creative types, should try being lazy sometimes, because “diligent work weakens creativity.”
Huang envisioned glaciers melting on Shenzhen in one of his works, in which Shennan Boulevard is a waterslide, containers at Shekou port flow into the sea, urban villages are flooded, people dance on rooftops and flooded buildings become artificial reefs for sea creatures.
He spent half a year completing the painting.
The artist made a deal with six friends at the end of last year: he would stay at the home of each friend for one night in order to experience their lives.
“I gained many inspirations for drawing. Now there are too many subjects that I want to draw,” said Huang.
“Many friends of mine said they are jealous of me and want to live a life like mine when they earn enough money. It’s unnecessary to wait, though. I don’t make much money, but it’s enough to support my freewheeling life,” he said.
Huang’s sketches and paintings have been published in newspapers and magazines, too. In addition, his works are sold at local bookstores.