Jie Gao: Oasis


Zealous Stories Illustration winner, Jie Gao, is a London based visual artist and graphic designer. Her winning series, Oasis, uses digital art techniques to express deep-seated loneliness, as the main character gradually looses herself, paralysed by the modern world.

Morning, (Oasis Series), Jie Gao

Congratulations on winning Zealous Stories: Illustration! Your project Oasis comments on a world paralysed by modern society. Could you tell us more about the inspiration for this series?

As I have gotten older, I seem to care less about the things that I used to feel strongly towards. I talked this through with my friends and they shared a similar perspective. This got me thinking –  everyone has a little version of themselves in their mind, which is strong, positive and happier than us. We can easily ignore that part of ourselves.

During these decades of economic growth, we’ve had an abundance of tools for social interaction and entertaining. Nevertheless, loneliness is more prevalent than ever before. We are all paralysed by our busy lives – time seems to be getting less and less, and we lack the space to think. There is no respite. In this fast-paced era, I prefer to stop, allowing myself enough time to think and grow.

Silent Night, Jie Gao

Oasis depicts an ordinary young woman who looses herself in the everyday. What does this character embody?

She is a microcosm of myself and most of my peers. We are urged by those around us to grow up and make life choices when we are not ready. Amidst the chaos, I forgot my original dream and who I was. Hating loneliness but wanting to be alone, this is very contradictory. When we feel tried of society and socialising, solitude is be the best medicine.

The girl in my story  has lost her direction and purpose in life, so she has chosen to stop and enjoy a moment of peace in the middle of the night. This represents her oasis.

Drowning, Jie Gao

Oasis is a digital illustration. Could you tell us about the process / technology that you use?

I usually do a simple sketch to determine the overall composition of the work. Then I will roughly
determine the colour of the whole illustration. I love drawing on my iPad. I use ProCreate.

 Which of your projects has been most important to developing your personal style?

Stealer’ is the most important project, because it made my style more gentle and emotional. This project inspired me to create more narrative illustrations.

Many of your illustrations are accompanied by poetic text. How do you feel the text enhances your images?

I love reading and writing poetry and the implicit emotions that it conveys. This kind of vague expression allows readers more space for imagination  – my illustrations embody these emotions to a certain extent. Instead of just presenting the audience a certain scene, poetry makes it easier for the audience to have an emotional association and resonate with my work.

00:00, Jie Gao

Your practice incorporates a number of illustrative mediums including animation, digital
illustration and sketches. What is your preferred medium and why?

I really enjoy sketching, because it is the best way to explore and practice. I like to use a sketchbook
as my library of inspiration. I create various scenarios and experiment with colour.

What criteria do you use to critique your work?

I pay most attention to the atmosphere conveyed by the picture. If it looks comfortable and relaxed, I think it is successful.

Are you working on anything exciting that you can tell us about?

My Favorite Winter is coming soon. Recently, I have been writing warm stories about winter. I’m very
excited because I have lots of ideas about this story every day.

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Ellie Isaacs

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