Guojing Jing Guo

Portrait Guojing Jing Guo
© Hartwig Klappert

Guojing (Jing Guo) was born in 1983 in the Chinese province of Shanxi. She became interested in art at the age of 9, and graduated from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. She has subsequently worked as a concept artist in the games industry and for animated TV shows.

Guojing published her first illustrated book »The Only Child« in 2015. According to the work’s short preface, which was written by the author herself, this otherwise wordless, 105-page graphic novel grew out of her own memories of isolation and loneliness as a child. Guojing was raised in the era of China’s one-child policy, which had been in effect for 35 years by the time it was officially revoked in October 2015. Her picture book centers on a small girl who leaves home to visit her grandma without her parents’ knowledge. She gets lost in a forest, where she meets a mighty stag who takes her through a mythical world filled with friendly magical creatures and dangerous adventures. Guojing has stated that her desire to use her art to explore the idea that love is the strongest force in the world was inspired by a book she read as a child about a mermaid who sacrifices herself out of love. The stag in »The Only Child« embodies this idea and functions as both friend and protector. Guojing’s digitally enhanced charcoal drawings make use of the full range of grey tones and often feel like old photos brought to life. These images are also visual expressions of sensual experiences, such as the warmth of the proximity of the stag. The artist describes her own drawings as simple, soft and emotional, as she lets her feelings flow into every image. A review by Christian Endres on characterized the style and content of Guojing’s graphic novel as »a meeting of the visual language of Shaun Tan’s surrealist masterpiece ›The Arrival‹ […] with the spirit of the anime fairytales of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Gibli«. Other critics compared her book to Raymond Brigg’s equally wordless winter fairytale »The Snowman«. Many consider »The Only Child« to be well on its way to becoming a modern classic. »USA Today« spoke of a »compelling and melancholic debut from an important new talent« as well as an »ageless book, full of wonder, sadness, and wild bursts of imagination«.

»The Only Child« attracted a great deal of attention in China and also went on to receive several international awards. In 2015, it made the year-end best books lists at »Publishers Weekly«, »The Wall Street Journal« and »The New York Times«. In 2016, »The Only Child« was honored as a Notable Children’s Book by the American Association for Library Service to Children and was nominated for the Eisner Award. Guojing is now working full-time on new projects. She lives in Singapore and the province of Shanxi.