When I finished Lost, it became clearer to me what I’m trying to accomplish artistically. The idea for the illustration is based on the Land of Toys in the Italian novel version of Pinocchio. The story goes the Land of Toys lures children with the promise of freedom and pleasure but the dark truth is that they are transformed into donkeys for their idleness. Instead of portraying the glitz and glamour of the Land of Toys, I chose a landfill as the landscape. Pinocchio is caught in a moment of contemplation among the heaps of waste and forgotten toys.


Lost is part of a series of dystopian fairy tales which I’m gradually working on. It’s a reflection of how I see the world today – through a bifocal lens of pessimism and optimism. As children we’re fed all these happy-ending stories that are repackaged as products of their time. Just think of Lost as having your apple juice with an insidious dose of reality (like realizing what we’re doing to the environment through our daily habits).


Originally I was going to title the illustration ‘Authenticity’ but ‘Lost’ is the truth behind the work. Lately, I’ve been directionless, frustrated, burnt out and well lost. Every year, I make plans to revisit my personal work to recharge the creative juices and every year I’ve put it off. Although I enjoyed working with other people and worked really hard on their projects with genuine enthusiasm and passion, it has come to a point where I have a diverse body of work without a clear focus. So what does she do again? I don’t really know but I do know that I’m terrified of specializing which is rooted in the fear of saying no and missing out on opportunities.

I’ve had many moments of doubt with the dystopian fairy tale series because I don’t see them fitting neatly into any category. They’re not that dark, they’re not really whimsical, they’re not that political, they’re not motivational, they’re not realistic, they’re not fantastical, they’re not really for kids or for adults, they’re not educational and they’re certainly not trendy.

LOST (11″ x 14″, Digital) Lost above a cloud of lies| A puppet finds a conscience guise| With nowhere else left to hide| He succumbs to his own demise – Angela Zhang

But they are me: a subtle, quiet and introspective misfit. What is more, I’m discovering there are like-minded people who stop, look and reflect through these images. I’m really grateful for that.


With the dystopian fairy tale series, I plan on braving the world of self publishing. It’s the only course that makes sense for me. As I have done in the past, I’ll be documenting the journey with all its frustrations, struggles, darkness and eventually, I hope, small pockets of light.

5 thoughts on “Lost

  1. There’s such a word that comes into mind now – ‘nugget’. I believe it is what I can see and feel. “A head in the clouds” is a deliberate escape. I hope you understand what I mean.

    1. I think I understand what you mean. I like what you said about the deliberate escape. It’s too easy to dismiss it as a bad thing though. Do you think part of the artistic journey is getting lost in the clouds and finding a way back to the ground?

      1. Art in its broad sense is a burden. I think it starts earlier than our birth. It’s something we shall never comprehend because it’s beyond our comprehension. It is given, some may call it as a gift, but I somehow don’t think so. Arts are the kind of individual performance and endeavor to come to know the particulars of yourself. As to me, I frequently try to banish the unwelcome thoughts but they attack and annoy for I see the imperfections, and the lies around me. I struggle with them in my own way, neither destructing, nor self-destructing. Creation is apparently a way to walk father and look around, and look back.

      2. Well said, well said. There is a loud battle that goes on in my head everyday in the quiet hours of drawings. I’ve come to realize that perfection is a silent killer. My work is full of flaws, it can’t be helped. I hope that no machine will ever be able to automate these flaws.

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