Shaun Tan, born in Perth in 1974, is an award-winning artist with a great reputation not only in his home country, but also abroad. When he was young, he began drawing science fiction and horror stories for magazines. Later, he studied art and English literature at the University of Western Australia. Today, he works as a freelance artist, author, illustrator, and director in the field of animated films.
He is also known to a wider audience in Europe. He inspires children and young people as well as adults with his imaginative illustrated worlds filled with allusions and associative empty spaces. The author incorporates this cross-generational readership into his ideas for his text and images. He uses this multi-layered approach to challenge social, political, and historical themes such as migration in the wordless graphic novel »The Arrival« (2006); armament, creativity, the longing for self-realization, and an individual cultural and social identity under external restrictions are all themes that are touched upon in the novel. His books challenge readers to question their environment and discover the omnipresent extraordinary behind a seemingly mundane everyday life. Shaun Tan describes his narrative process in an interview with Deutschlandradio by saying that »Some stories are ambiguous. But I think ambiguity is better than certainty, because it allows you to look at the foreign.« In the volume of short stories »Tales from Outer Suburbia« (2008), the author tells of a world between reality and fantasy with a lightness of language but at the same time with great seriousness. Only at first glance does it appear that one is dealing with ordinary and coincidental events and contexts. In his children’s book »The Lost Thing« (2000), he discusses topics that may be challenging for some children such as identity, friendship, social responsibility, the fear of the unknown, and the relationship between man and machine. With his Brothers Grimm adaptation »Singing Bones« (2016), Tan breathes new life into their fairy tales with his 75 sculptures. In his picture book »Cicada« (2018), written for children and adults, he describes an office worker who lives in a very bland world and is harassed by his colleagues until, on the day before his retirement, he turns into a glowing insect that flies home to the jungle.
Shaun Tan has received numerous national and international awards, including the German Youth Literature Award for »Tales from Outer Suburbia« in 2009, the Oscar 2010 in the category Best Animated Short Film for »The Lost Thing«, and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2011. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and three birds.
Watch Shaun Tan at the 20th ilb on our YouTube-Channel: https://youtu.be/EwJlcJGoDiI