Using comics as a diary, "Gusu Ajiao" outlines "Little Man in the World"

4 years of insisting on updating more than 1,800 works every day to "cure" netizens

  "The new year's festival comes to an end, and everything starts from the beginning, and work and struggle." At 10 o'clock every day, the cartoonist "Gusu Ajiao" updates his works on time.

  "Gusu Ajiao" has never been updated in the past four years, and has accumulated more than 1,800 comic works. With the creative attitude of "drawing the joy and freedom of life with the bits and pieces of ordinary life", he takes Western painting as the basis The foundation, created with Chinese painting techniques, records the living conditions of Suzhou.

  "Ajiao" is a post-70s generation. His real name is Jiao Dianyi. He was born in Lianyungang. He graduated from the Suzhou Academy of Arts and Crafts. He has lived in Suzhou for more than 20 years. He has drawn illustrations for many magazines such as "Reader" and "Senior Expo". Member of Suzhou Folk Literature and Artists Association, author of a collection of works "Little Man in the World".

The protagonist of Ajiao's comics is mostly the cute and fat uncle "Zhang San", and is matched with "Zhang San"'s unique philosophy of life.

  For example, when work started on the seventh day of the lunar new year, Ajiao updated the comics. In the painting, Zhang San walked forward with a briefcase. Ajiao wrote: "Life is ordinary, work with peace of mind"; Zhang San is also in a good mood, take advantage of the beautiful spring scenery, go and act like a baby in spring"; Zhang San is eating simple pasta alone, Ajiao wrote: "Maybe it's just a bowl of homemade noodles, between salty and spicy. reward"...

  These works made many netizens feel "healed", "Ajiao's paintings have small principles of life", "heart-warming, smoky, and soothing", "like a ray of light entering life"...More netizens will be in Leave your own story in the comment area and keep the details of life.

It is this relentless update that allowed him to gradually establish a unique personal style, and also gained the attention of 700,000 netizens, and finally realized his dream of a full-time cartoonist.

  Not long ago, Ajiao was interviewed by a reporter from Beijing Youth Daily, recalling his hard journey before becoming a cartoonist, and talking about the behind-the-scenes story of creating cartoons.

Ajiao said that now he regards painting as a diary, recording his life.

  Year taste

  There are always a few chickens in the chicken coop that will be kept until the Chinese New Year

  Every time the Spring Festival approaches, Ajiao will start to update his "New Year's Taste" series of comics.

He often turns the changes in Suzhou's street scenes he sees into creative materials.

"Walking on the street, seeing the growing taste of the New Year, I naturally want to draw something about the Spring Festival."

  Previously, Ajiao had created a series of cartoons about "The Taste of the New Year in Memories", recording the scenes of the Spring Festival that he experienced in his childhood.

He introduced in "The Countryside with the Taste of the New Year in Memories": "My hometown is in the countryside of northern Jiangsu, geographically north, but there is no heating, so the memory of the whole winter is freezing. It is probably cold and cold. I got used to it, but it didn’t affect our happiness. Winter is connected with the Chinese New Year, so we also rejoiced in the cold, because at the end of the year, just eating is enough to make us feel To the strong taste of the New Year..."

  The characters in the comics are all dressed up in the northern countryside. They wear big green padded jackets, or blue padded jackets, Lei Feng hats on their heads, or wrap a headscarf. From the paintings, we can see that the coldness of winter is overwhelming. .

However, the people in the painting are all beaming, welcoming the New Year, sweeping the house, steaming steamed buns, and slaughtering chickens and pigs is full of fun.

"On the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth lunar month, grind tofu. My mother always pours out the best soybeans from plastic bags. Each one is carefully selected, and then soaked in water full overnight. When the milky white soybean milk is squeezed out from the millstone At that time, stewed tofu with cabbage for dinner must be the prelude to the joy of eating..." "On the 27th day of the twelfth lunar month, chickens are slaughtered. There are always a few chickens in the chicken coop that will be kept for the New Year. I can't wait to put the chickens in the morning. Put it in a yard, so I caught chickens with my parents, and the laughter made me feel that the Chinese New Year is unparalleled, and it is an indispensable taste of happiness in all the years." The interesting picture, combined with the text, makes Many netizens were severely attacked by Memories, "It's so kind! After watching it, I immediately went back to my childhood." "All the memories of our generation, only we can experience..."

  This year's Spring Festival, Ajiao's updated New Year's Taste series has a different style of painting than before. It is no longer a rural style, but an urban modern style.

"The same theme can be expressed from different angles, and I make adjustments every year according to my own feelings. I painted the country before because I wanted to retain the taste of the New Year in my memory. The theme of the Chinese New Year in the past was eating, and eating was in that The most complete satisfaction in the era of material scarcity. Now most of life is "everyday is a good day", and the taste of the new year is indeed very different from the previous one. Because there were fewer record carriers at that time, it is always On the one hand, we want to use comics to restore part of our memories and retain our feelings for the New Year, and on the other hand, we also want today’s children to know what the New Year was like.” Ajiao explained.

  Following the content update of "Another year of wind and snow, always go home for a new year", Ajiao continued to update the comics of "One year after another, a busy year". Shopping cart" "Buy a new dress"... The modern Chinese New Year atmosphere floods the comics, "One year after another, I am busy celebrating the New Year, busy eating, busy wearing, busy visiting...busy wading through traffic and There are so many people, busy looking at their parents in their hometown, busy fulfilling the responsibilities of a middle-aged person, and busy starting a new year for their own lives!" Ajiao wrote.

  Zhang San

  Don't show off the sufferings of the world, just gossip about the daily life

  It is full of smoke and fire, which is the evaluation of many netizens on Ajiao's works.

A Jiao born in the 70s is like a big brother next door on the streets of Suzhou, observing the details of life, daily necessities, and parents’ short stories. Many netizens believe that these records of the most ordinary daily life can resonate and comfort people’s hearts.

  However, Ajiao's style was not like this at the beginning.

In July 2017, Ajiao began to update on the online platform. The first work was called "Fight, Little Sun!" In the painting, there is a man holding a bow and arrow, aiming at the distant sun.

"I used to draw the style of the Republic of China. A person without facial features was wearing a long robe. After three years of continuous adjustment, the current image of the character came to him. For example, the previous facial features were empty. I always felt that there was something missing, so I added With the glasses, I think the characters are much richer and add a bit of style.”

  In A Jiao's pen, the chubby Zhang San is a middle-aged uncle. In Zhang San's life, he has a lovely daughter, a beloved wife, and a cat to accompany him. Zhang San in the painting is A Jiao in life.

With the accumulation of works, Zhang San's life has become richer and richer, and he even has his own "philosophy of life".

  "Time is like a butcher's knife, thinning hair and fattening. Fortunately, with some experience in life, there is still some room for people in the stomach besides oil and water. Without hair, I have gained some wisdom." Leisurely Xiaren Lazy, this is from Zhang San’s philosophical time. In the painting, Zhang San sometimes sleeps on a wooden chair, sometimes drinks wine and draws, and sometimes stands up for exercise, but finds: "The furthest distance in this world is: this moment The distance between hands and feet, and Xia Tian’s blatantness made me understand: people have to know how much they are.” Sometimes Zhang San would drink with his friends with a flagon in his hand, “Fate is that I have wine and you have meat, every now and then Take a couple of sips."

  "This greasy uncle named Zhang San is actually an ideal in the world. He lives a transparent and casual life. He has gone through vicissitudes but is kind. He doesn't show off the sufferings of the world, but only gossips about the daily life." Ajiao once wrote.

In Ajiao's "comic universe", there are not only the "Zhang San" series, but also a little girl named "Little Ajiao", a cute pig named "Bu Confused", and a black girl named "Black Girl". A series of cartoons such as cats and orange cats named "Wang Fugui", and sometimes series creations based on seasons and solar terms.

What remains unchanged in these works is the style of ink sketches based on traditional Chinese painting, combined with a unique perception of life, simple lines outline the life in the south of the Yangtze River, and at the same time express the beauty of life with deep meaning, which makes many netizens feel "heartwarming" and "healing" ” and “Interesting.”

  From the very beginning of his creation, Ajiao has chosen yellow tones as the basic color of his paintings, sometimes darker and sometimes lighter.

He thinks this is like painting on kraft paper. The old-fashioned style runs through his works. Coupled with his unique style of life quality, many netizens can recognize Ajiao's cartoons at a glance.

  Ajiao also pays special attention to the atmosphere of the scene in the painting, thinking that the details of the scene can better express the theme.

"When I used to draw the facial features of characters, I would always consider whether the eyes would be similar or not, or whether the overall facial features of the characters would be drawn harmoniously. I might waste a lot of time and energy on these details, and the drawn pictures would be awkward. It’s not vivid anymore. So I pay more attention to a sense of atmosphere. I didn’t show the facial features specifically, which is also very consistent with the comics.”


  Not only to keep painting, but also to paint well, to be the top in China

  The childhood comic book is Ajiao's enlightenment reading, and it also planted the seeds of "cartoon artist" in his heart early.

"From "Water Margin" to "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", and then to "Taking Tiger Mountain by Wisdom", I first had an understanding of the outline of lines."

  Ajiao talked about his childhood, and remembered that he won the first prize in the provincial painting competition for the first time when he was in elementary school. He drew the cartoon "Pig Bajie". The rewards my parents gave me after that competition are very precious to me. From then on, they began to support me, and I became more determined to become a cartoonist."

  In the summer of 1994, Ajiao went from his hometown Lianyungang to Suzhou to go to university. At that time, Suzhou Academy of Arts and Crafts only admitted 3 art students from more than 300 art students. He was one of them, "the only kid in the village who dared to apply for the Academy of Fine Arts".

After graduating in 1998, he went to Shenzhen with his relatives to work in a construction company.

Ajiao was very impatient with this job, which was envied by his classmates at the time. "I don't like this state very much, and I am most afraid of the unchanging rhythm of life."

Ajiao believes that such a job can be seen at a glance, it is boring, and it is impossible to integrate into the working environment, and do not interact with colleagues. "In their eyes, I may be a strange person."

  During those days in Shenzhen, the only thing that made Ajiao feel at ease was the moment when he picked up his paintbrush after get off work, and used paintings to record his mood at that time.

Looking back at his works at that time, Ajiao thought that painting at that time had no purpose, but he just didn't want to give up painting.

"This is not the life I want", so in 2001, Ajiao returned to Suzhou, determined to live a life related to painting.

  From a comfortable job to a difficult life, when Ajiao first returned to Suzhou, it was the most difficult time in his life.

"I returned to Suzhou and worked in games, interior design, advertising and other industries for several years. Although the work was not satisfactory, it was all related to art after all. At that time, the income was very unstable. In order to save money, I I took turns staying at my friends’ houses, and sometimes I even had three meals a day with my friends. So, when I got married in Suzhou, my friends were very happy, thinking that I would finally marry me out Yes. My wife sometimes doesn’t understand why I can’t eat for three days in difficult times, but I can still go to Lingyan Mountain to sketch with my drawing board on my back. In fact, I’m a very simple person, and drawing makes me feel more at ease.”

  After Ajiao got married, he suddenly felt the pressure of the family. In order to provide a better life for his wife and daughter, he began to draw illustrations for some magazines after work in 2008. Therefore, many netizens also found that he had appeared in "Readers" and "Senior Expo" etc. I have seen Ajiao's works in magazines.

"I also slowly started to get in touch with some of the more powerful cartoonists in China. We discussed and learned from each other. This is also a process of constantly confirming that I combine Chinese ink painting with cartoons. The works are mainly based on Western paintings and using Chinese painting techniques. Come perform."

  Talking about the hard work when he was young, Ajiao is very grateful for his previous experience. He believes that the "wandering life" made him more determined to insist on drawing comics, "not only to continue to draw, but also to draw well, to be the top in China".

  the moment

  As long as you can draw, you are my "Little Man in the World"

  Ajiao has lived in Suzhou for twenty years, always living in the old city.

"It's not the same here as Shenzhen. There are no high-rise buildings in the old city, and there is no stereotyped urban appearance. Instead, it is full of alleys and rivers, and there are large and small gardens. It gives me a lot of security and allows me to create freely." Ah Jiao sighed.

  Like Zhang San in the painting, Ajiao is a "daughter slave".

As long as his daughter goes to school, Ajiao will ride an electric scooter to see her off every morning, "Ten years, nothing can be shaken".

Every day on the road in the old city of Suzhou, Ajiao would silently observe the scenes he saw, and then return to the studio to start creating. He believes that as long as he loves life, he will have a steady stream of inspiration.

  Ajiao called 2019 his "turning year".

With the encouragement of his friends, Ajiao began to insist on updating comics on the Internet platform every day.

He regards comics as a diary, recording his current life and feelings in Suzhou.

  Over the course of a year, Ajiao's comics gradually gained attention and accumulated 20,000 fans.

Since then, Ajiao has never stopped updating daily.

After four years of persistence, only one online platform has attracted the attention of 700,000 fans.

Ajiao fulfilled his dream and became a full-time cartoonist.

  Ajiao believes that the formation of personal style is related to the quantity of works, and only when creators achieve quantitative changes can they produce qualitative changes and complete works.

"After the quantity is used as a basis, we must also pay attention to the overall quality of the work. The standard for me to update the work is whether I can impress myself. If I feel comfortable when looking at the painting, I can post it. Sometimes I will look at the previous works to see if I can see it." Can’t continue to adjust and improve. But the tone of the painting style remains unchanged.”

  Many netizens fell in love with Suzhou after seeing Suzhou in Ajiao's paintings.

"For example, the persimmon tree I painted at Exit 4 of Suzhou Beisita Station is often mentioned. The Internet is amazing. Some people see this work and want to go to Suzhou to check in. They also like Suzhou, and even Some people will come to Suzhou to find me, and bring special products from their hometown to the studio for a sit-down. I find it very interesting." Ajiao said with a smile.

  The online platform not only attracted a large number of fans for Ajiao, but also brought him many invitations for writing.

It's just that Ajiao likes to create according to his own rhythm, "the current project is simply impossible to do, and it will be a day if it can be delayed."

  In September 2022, Ajiao compiled his works into a book called "Little Man in the World", which collected more than 300 works of his own.

"This is the first collection of comics in my life. At the same time, I want to tell readers to live an interesting life, to have an optimistic, humorous, and tolerant attitude, not to be impatient, to be just right, to be full, is the best life Status." Ajiao said.

  Regarding Ajiao's life, he thinks that he has already reached the state of "Xiaoman".

His studio is in an old factory building in Suzhou, which is quiet and full of life. Five cats accompany him, and there is a tea room next to the studio. With these conditions, A Jiao can stay in it for a day, and sometimes concentrate on creating several Hours, sometimes quietly alone.

Ajiao believes that as long as he can paint, he is his "Little Man in the World".

  Text/Reporter Han Shirong