Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Stuff from my high school folio

Balcatta, pencil, 1991

The view from the window of our high school art room, looking down on Poincaire St(?), lots of low brick and tile houses. My interest in the idea of endless suburbia has not changed much from this school assignment, when I look at it next to books like Tales from Outer Suburbia and The Lost Thing, it's all the same sort of imagery.

Sand dunes, Hillarys, pencil, 1991 (aged 17)
The landscape near my family home, sandy coastal dunes with low scrub and an encroachment of houses in the distance (it's now all very built up).

Rottnest Trees, pencil, 1990 (aged 16)
A study of trees - probably for another high school assignment - on the island of Rottnest, off the coast of Perth (so named because early Dutch explorers mistook marsupial quokkas living there for giant rats). One of my favourite things to do is drawing trees, still, so haven't changed much on that front either.

I had to do all these sketches for high school and keep a neat and tidy folio, which I later rejected – I hated all that assessment-based cataloguing and note-taking. Ironically, 25 year on,  I'm very particular about keeping sketchbooks with notations! So helpful in keeping larger projects organised. But I never really learned it at school, only when I needed it over a decade later.


  1. Dear Shaun Tan, first of all want to congratulate you for your wonderful work than I admire deeply. I have several of your books , and I really enjoy their stories and images.
    I write here because I want to know if there is any way I can contact you directly .
    Warm greetings and thank you very much , from Santiago de Chile.

    Pd:My e-mail is

  2. Hi Claudia, I can send you an email (I don't publish my own only because I am such a lousy correspondent!) Work related enquiries can be sent to my agent, Sophie Byrne or I try to answer other questions here on my blog when I can. Thanks for your kind works.

  3. Hi Shaun , these two short videos made me think of your own creative process : &


  4. I just wanted wanted to say how much I love your work, and the atmospheres you create. I was poking around a library probably five years ago and saw a copy of the arrival, loved it, and have kept an eye out for new releases from you ever since.

    You have such a powerful ability to capture moments of emotional truth in your paintings and stories; it's a beautiful, sincere, wonderful thing and I wish more people in the world could produce things that evoke the same joys that you do.

  5. The sand dunes picture is very evocative, especially as I used to walk through there as a teenager! Would love to see more of your younger work.


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