Jean & Mou-Sien Tseng Books & Biography
People often ask what it is like for two artists to collaborate on the illustrations of a book. We think it is an exciting challenge and a learning experience. Throughout this process we share and develop our different ideas. We are constantly amazed that two minds can have so much in common and yet be so different, but we strongly believe that two minds are better than one.
"After carefully studying and exchanging our preliminary ideas about a manuscript, we work separately on thumbnail sketches. When our sketches are ready, we review them together and determine the most suitable drawing for each page. Then we begin to work on the full-size sketches. We focus on style, pose, expression, color, texture--every detail is carefully considered. We also keep in contact with the editor and author to exchange and discuss ideas. When everybody agrees that the full-size sketches are just right, we go on to finish the illustrations.
"Jean specializes in color, sensation, and effect, while Mou-Sien is more likely to originate ideas about composition. Collaboration means more time and effort, but when the whole process is complete and the final vision appears, it is all worthwhile. We're glad that we make a good team."
Jean and Mou-Sien were classmates at the Fine Art Department of the National Normal University in Taiwan. After graduation, they married and worked as teachers, designers, and illustrators. They also worked for a UNICEF Project in Taiwan, editing and designing 165 picture books-thirty of which they illustrated themselves. Their book Lovely Toys won the 1971 Golden Book Award for the best picturebook illustration. Mou-Sien also won the Golden Goblet Award for Excellent Achievement at Chinese Painting in 1990.
When they immigrated to the U. S. in 1974, they each tried a new profession. Jean was a textile designer and Mou-Sien worked for a film company. After three years, they decided to return to fine arts and illustration.
Jean vividly remembers reading a picture book in a bomb shelter when she was a young girl in Japan during World War II. "My fascination with the picture book let me forget the terrifying world outside. Now that I have the chance to help create these tales, that memory reminds me of the magic and power that can be possible."
The Tsengs live and work in Glen Cove, New York.