Do you remember the “Don’t apologize for existing” comic that took the internet by storm a few years back? That was Yao Xiao‘s work! Her webcomic, Baopu, is about her experience being a person, and also a queer emigrant from China to New York who often feels between worlds.
Baopu means “holding simplicity”. She describes her comics as “comic poetry”, in the tradition of presenting a painting with a poem as one art piece.
From the very nice video on her About page, it looks like Yao Xiao inks her illustrations with a brush (she’s braver than me!) and then colors them digitally.
She’s influenced by European history paintings – paintings that tell a story; indie comics; manga; and the Ashcan School, a turn-of-the-20th-century movement portraying everyday scenes in the (often poor) neighborhoods of New York City. Yao Xiao gravitates towards these types of art because they show “the details of life”, tell stories, and include “secondary information to tell your story.”
Besides baopu, Yao Xiao illustrates book covers, advertisements, editorial illustrations, for magazines, advertisements, and music. Her clients have included National Geographic, SXSW, Capitol Records, Buzzfeed, and Katy Perry.
Please visit her website and look at her portfolio in full! Below are some of my favorites:
Links for Yao Xiao: