黃郁欽與陶樂蒂 攜手共造繪本天地

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2015 / 4月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧林格立


黃郁欽與陶樂蒂,當電視編劇遇上法律碩士,一個擅長寫故事,一個專門抽絲剝繭。這對從事繪本創作數十年非美術科班出身的夫妻檔,將帶我們踏進不一樣的繪本耕耘之路。


電影科系畢業的黃郁欽,曾經擔任電視編劇,寫過許多家喻戶曉的八點檔連續劇,例如《愛》、《斷掌順娘》、《飛龍在天》等。偶然的機會下接觸到繪本,一眼就被繪本裡充滿故事性的圖畫與文字給吸引,讓他決心開始創作繪本。

從小喜歡畫畫的黃郁欽,不曾受過美術科班訓練,頂多在課本裡塗塗畫畫,或是社團製作海報。電影科的專業訓練,讓他更懂得抓住生活中的靈感。陶樂蒂說:「也許是做過編劇,黃郁欽總能在相同故事情節中找到與眾不同的切入點。」

參加陳璐茜的手製繪本教室以前,黃郁欽已決定朝繪本創作發展,並赴日本學習語言,雖然沒有修習正式的繪本課程,但黃郁欽每週參加日本知名兒童書店「蠟筆屋」舉辦的讀書會。不同於一般讀書會事先準備書單與資料的方式,蠟筆屋的讀書會,當天現場公布書目,讓參加者輪流講述繪本裡的故事,並互相交流,每場次下來會欣賞二十幾部繪本。這樣的經驗,除了讓黃郁欽日文精進,也打開了對繪本的視野。

法律人碰上繪本的美麗偶然

不同於黃郁欽因為想做繪本而參加陳璐茜手製繪本教室,陶樂蒂是單純想要畫畫而去學畫圖,卻意外走上繪本創作之路。

本名曹瑞芝的陶樂蒂,從小愛畫畫,國3時因為想考新竹師專美勞科,所以曾經有過一段每週日帶著一顆饅頭進畫室學素描的經驗。但因考試內容還有油畫、水彩等專業科目,沒有受過科班訓練的陶樂蒂,最終沒有考取。

在父母勸告畫圖會餓死後,陶樂蒂進入普通高中就讀,再沒有提起畫筆。後來陶樂蒂大學選擇了法律系,安穩地念著,甚至考了法律研究所。直到大3那年開始實際參與法律服務後,發現自己常會置身個案故事的情緒裡無法抽離,無法客觀思考,陶樂蒂因而對未來備感徬徨與茫然,她知道自己不適合法律工作,但卻不知該何去何從,只能硬著頭皮繼續攻讀研究所。

也許是上天安排陶樂蒂回到畫畫的懷抱,研究所那年為了法律需要而修習德文,卻偶然發現同棟大樓陳璐茜開設的插畫班。骨子裡愛畫畫的靈魂像是被喚醒,嘗試上了一期課程後,越畫越上癮,「好像有什麼在召喚我,感覺心裡癢癢的。」陶樂蒂接著又跟著陳璐茜一連上了好幾期手製繪本相關的課程。

法律系的訓練,讓陶樂蒂實事求是,充滿專業術語的法律工作,與創作繪本說故事,是截然不同的思考邏輯,「所以開始畫畫的頭幾年其實有點辛苦,我個性嚴肅放不開,綁手綁腳,不會說故事,畫圖就不有趣。」陶樂蒂坦白地說。

圖畫書俱樂部結緣,許諾作彼此第一位讀者

1996年陳璐茜繪本教室的學員舉辦聯展,四十幾位對畫畫有熱情的同好,成員中有學生、老師、上班族等。聯展結束後,黃郁欽不希望愛畫畫的心因為展覽結束而畫下句點,於是號召成立圖畫書俱樂部,也被推選為隊長。

原本在不同教室上課的黃郁欽與陶樂蒂,因為聯展而相識。兩人同為圖畫書俱樂部的成員,繪本創作是他們共同的興趣,後來兩人更進一步相戀交往,決定要成為彼此作品的第一位讀者,互相打氣,攜手繪本耕耘之路。

圖畫書俱樂部是同好組成的私人團體,非財團法人或社團法人,沒有官方的經費補助。純粹憑著對繪本創作的熱情,每年團員們都自掏腰包辦展覽、推廣手製繪本,19年來,不曾間斷。

起初10年,常有人笑他們傻,出錢出力辦沒有人看的展覽,尋找展覽場地、布置會場、海報宣傳等,都由成員一手包辦。這些工作費時費力,還要持續繪本創作,沒有一定程度的熱情,真的很難撐下去。所幸近年有越來越多人認識繪本,觀展的人也從親朋好友捧場,轉為一般民眾。

一般美術展覽的觀眾與藝術品之間常有距離,但圖畫書俱樂部的展覽提供手製繪本供民眾翻閱,希望拉近大家與繪本的距離。「現在觀展的人變多,我們在展期中常會需要補書呢。」陶樂蒂說。

堅持純手工繪製好聽的故事

在繪本有機會出版前,黃郁欽和陶樂蒂接插畫稿,曾替林良、張維中、吳若權等知名作家,繪製插圖或新書封面。

不論是繪本創作或是插畫稿,因為喜歡畫畫,兩人堅持純手工繪製,不使用電腦的繪圖板。從裁紙、貼膠帶、上底色、晾乾,再逐一畫上圖片的元素。為求色彩飽滿,甚至一張圖要上色兩到三次,每個步驟都需要時間,陶樂蒂笑說:「趕稿時還得拿吹風機在一旁伺候著。」所以每張圖都有獨一無二的原稿,「與電腦繪圖的檔案輸出列印是完全不一樣的。」黃郁欽說。

陶樂蒂與黃郁欽的創作靈感常來自童年生活的經驗或是日常的觀察,例如黃郁欽從小時候玩的捉迷藏發想,創作《躲好了沒?》。有時是從一個想要表達的畫面,再去延伸發想故事,就像陶樂蒂想畫一張小孩夢境裡很多旋轉木馬從窗戶流洩到空中的畫,因而想出《媽媽,打勾勾》。陶樂蒂和黃郁欽都認為繪本創作是要將故事說得有趣,不是要小朋友從中吸收大道理。「設限會讓故事變得生硬,預設主題會框住創作的靈感,太難吞嚥。」陶樂蒂說。

因此她創作的繪本色彩飽滿而溫暖,著重構圖與配色。不同於科班出身的創作者,她重視畫面的平衡,強調色塊的運用。陶樂蒂將《花狗》中一張春天繁花盛開的圖,創作每個色塊的畫面拍下組成影片,讓觀眾看她如何以一次一個色塊的方式慢慢呈現一個春天花開景色的構圖。這個一分鐘的影片,實際繪圖卻花了一個星期才完成。

黃郁欽的繪本角色造型變化豐富,重視整體畫面,對於各角色細部的配色,不像陶樂蒂那般執著。陶樂蒂開玩笑說自己很計較,就是要讓每個配色非常精確。而黃郁欽的圖畫不喜歡被限制,誰說熊一定要是黑色或棕色,黃郁欽就在他的繪本《這是誰的?》裡創造一隻藍紫色的大毛熊。

從各自創作到合作出版,一起為本土繪本努力

繪本創作並非一畫完就馬上有機會出版,往往需要沉潛多年。陶樂蒂出版的第一本繪本《好癢!好癢!》,是她2001年獲得第9屆陳國政兒童文學獎圖畫書類首獎的作品,繪本出版時已是2006年。接著又隔了6年,才出版第2本作品《誕生樹》。

黃郁欽自1988年開始創作繪本,他第一個出版的作品是1999年獲得國語日報兒童文學牧笛獎第3屆首獎的《烏魯木齊先生的假期》。時隔16年,今年重新配上更明亮的顏色並取了另一個可愛的名字《烏魯木齊先生的1000隻小小羊》改版登場。顯見,動聽的故事歷久彌新,經過十多年依然能帶給小朋友滿滿的感動。

黃郁欽與陶樂蒂原本只打算做對方的第一個讀者,彼此也常是比賽時的競爭對手。經過多年的相處,發現兩個人都有比較擅長的部分可以互相搭配,例如聊天時產生的故事,會因為對彼此的了解,而覺得對方來畫更為合適。2012年兩人第一次合作的繪本《花狗》,就是黃郁欽在故事發想之初就打算交由陶樂蒂配圖的作品。

因為喜歡畫畫而創作繪本,在創作之初,從未想過有天能夠出版,只是憑著熱情而堅持。現在已經出版多本繪本的黃郁欽與陶樂蒂更相信繪本創作將會是他們這輩子持續耕耘的道路。黃郁欽笑說:「雖然我們年紀有點大,但在繪本的領域我們還是新人,想畫的故事還有很多,我們的夢想才正要起飛。」

如今市面上的繪本雖仍以國外翻譯的作品為主,但近年來,本土的繪本也陸續受到外國青睞,翻譯成其他語言在海外出版。我們何其幸運,有黃郁欽、陶樂蒂等對繪本充滿熱情的創作者,堅持自製本土繪本,讓世界看見台灣繪本的生命力。

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EN

A Picture-Book Marriage

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by David Mayer

Husband-and-wife team ­Huang Yi-chin and Tsao Juei-chih have been producing picture books for several decades. He comes from a television screenwriting background, while she holds a master’s degree in law. He excels in storytelling, while she is best at taking in a complex picture and getting to the heart of the matter. These strengths have enabled the duo, despite their lack of formal training in the visual arts, to cut a unique career path in the world of picture books.


Huang studied cinema in school, and as a television screenwriter authored a number of blockbuster prime-time TV scripts, including Love and Dragon in the Sky. But by chance he came across a picture book, and was instantly attracted by the highly expressive images and text. He decided to start making picture books himself.

While an avid drawer from childhood, ­Huang never studied the visual arts at school. Nevertheless, the professional expertise he had picked up as a student of cinema enabled him to better seize upon the poignant heart of life’s moments. Says Tsao: “Perhaps it’s his experience in screenwriting; he just really knows how to approach a story from a very unique angle.”

Before signing up for classes at a school run by noted illustrator Lucy Chen, ­Huang had already decided to start taking steps to become a picture book author. To that end, he went to Japan to study the language, and though he didn’t take any course directly related to the making of picture books, he did go each week to attend book club meetings at Crayon House, a well-known children’s bookstore. Participants took turns talking about the stories set out in various picture books, and 20 or more books were discussed at each session. These sessions greatly improved ­Huang’s Japanese, and he learned a lot about picture books in the process.

The legal eagle and the artist

Tsao Juei-chih, who goes by the pen name of Tao Ledi, was enamored of drawing since childhood, and in her last year of junior high was hoping to gain admission to the arts and crafts department at National Hsin­chu Teachers College. With that goal in mind, she attended a sketching course every Sunday for a time. But the entrance exam covered lots of subjects she’d never formally studied, including oil painting, watercolors, and more. In the end, she was not admitted.

After entering a regular high school, she set her art implements aside. She eventually obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law. In her third year as an undergraduate, she started doing legal work and discovered that she tended to get emotionally involved in the casework, and was unable to maintain an objective detachment. Realizing she wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer, but not knowing what else to do, she simply toughed out the degree and went on to do a master’s program.

In graduate school she was required to study German, but discovered that Lucy Chen was running illustrator courses in the same building where the German classes met. Her long-buried passion for drawing was reawakened. She signed up for a course with Chen, became increasingly addicted to the act of drawing, and went on to attend several consecutive courses on the making of hand-drawn picture books.

Her studies in the department of law had taught Tsao to establish facts and follow them to their logical conclusion, which is quite different from the logic of picture book making. She frankly admits: “That’s why my first few years in picture book making were really difficult. By nature, I’m very serious and reserved. But if you’re not very good at story­telling, then drawing pictures isn’t going to be at all interesting.”

Met in a club

After Lucy Chen’s students held an exhibition of their works in 1996, ­Huang Yi-chin wanted to do something to ensure that the end of the exhibition wouldn’t mean the end of their picture book making. So he got some fellow students together to establish a picture book club. ­Huang was selected as the club’s president.

It was during the exhibition that ­Huang and Tsao got to know each other. Before that, they had been enrolled in different classes. As fellow members of the picture book club, they shared a common interest in making picture books. Eventually they started dating, and decided to be the first readers of each other’s picture books. One natural step at a time, they launched together upon their picture book careers.

The picture book club was a purely private group that received no official funding. Motivated by a simple love for picture book making, the club members would shell out personally each year to put on exhibitions, and this tradition has continued now for 19 years.

Doing it all by hand

The couple have always drawn completely by hand, and eschew the use of computers. This applies to the whole process, from paper cutting to applying tape, laying down the base colors, hanging out the drawings to dry, and drawing the images. To get a rich color, they will often put on two or three coats. Each step takes a lot of time. And that is why each drawing is one of a kind. “The result is utterly different from what you get with a computer printout,” says Huang.

Tsao and ­Huang often get their story ideas from childhood experiences or observations of everyday life. ­Huang, for example, decided to base Are You Hidden Yet? on the children’s game of hide and seek. They both feel that the point of making a picture book is to entertain, not to teach kids some deep lesson.

Tsao likes for the colors in her picture books to be rich and warm. She is a stickler about having a balanced composition, and pays close attention to how different swatches of color are used. In Spotted Dog, there is a springtime scene with a riot of flowers in full bloom. While making the scene, she filmed herself as she laid down the colors, so that viewers could see how she composed the scene, one color at a time. While the clips were edited down to about one minute, in actual fact it took her a week to complete the image.

The characters in ­Huang’s picture books come in a wild variety of styles. He cares most about the overall effect, and bridles at restrictions. Who says bears have to be black or brown? His book Whose Is This? features a big bluish-purple bear.

Two careers converge

Just because a picture book is finished doesn’t mean it will be published right away. More often than not, the process takes years. Tsao’s first picture book, So... Very... Itchy!, was finished in 2001 and won the top award in the picture book category at the 9th Chen Guo ­­Zheng Children’s Literature Awards, but was not actually published until 2006. And then it was another six years before she again went to publication with Birthday Tree.

Having first started making picture books in 1988, ­Huang first published in 1999, when he won the 3rd Mandarin Daily News Reed Pipe Award for Children’s Literature for Mr. Urumqi’s Vacation. Now, in 2015, 16 years later, he has reworked the earlier book, publishing it again under the title Mr. Urumqi’s Thousand Little Lambs, which features brighter colors than the original. Quite clearly, a pleasing story will stand the test of time. All these years later, kids still get a kick out of Mr. Urumqi.

Back when it all began, Huang and Tsao had only planned to be each other’s first readers. And, in fact, they often faced off against each other in various competitions. But after many years together, they came to see that their different strengths were mutually complementary. In 2012, the two collaborated for the first time to produce Spotted Dog. From the very start, when ­Huang first conceived of the story, he had planned to turn it over to Tsao to do the illustrations.

It was a simple love of drawing that first attracted the two toward picture books. With never a thought that they would ever publish, they simply kept on for the pure joy of it. Now that they’ve each published multiple picture books, they feel more sure than ever that this is what they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives. ­Huang chuckles: “We’re a bit older now, but in the field of picture books, we still qualify as young newcomers. We still have a lot of stories that we want to draw. Our dream is only just getting started.”

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