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Shaun Tan

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Thu Nguyen

on 9 September 2013

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Transcript of Shaun Tan

Visual narratives - Get students to create a narrative using only images (e.g. drawings, photographs, pictures etc.) similar to 'The Arrival'

Give students different pages.images from any Shaun Tan book, getting them to look at the image and writing a story from what they see
Brainstorm/Art Study/Opening Minds - Look at different pages from Shaun Tan books, either individually or as a class, and try to interpret what artifacts in the image could represent, and/or what the image could be telling as a whole
- These activities get students to think 'outside the box,' and develop different ideas, and understand that there are many ways to interpret i.e. one image

Use Shaun Tan to explore more serious themes i.e. displacement, belonging, family, foreign vs. familiar, dystopia etc.
- great for children with similar backgrounds: migration/relocation, cultural difference, difficulty fitting in etc.
Childhood: enjoyed drawing and painting surroundings, monsters, spaceships, robots and dinosaurs
Balcatta Senior High School: Known as 'the good drawer'
and 'the most talented artist'
University of Western Australia:
Studied English Literature, Fine Arts theory, History
Bachelor of Arts (1995)
Writing Style:
Simple, descriptive language
More illustrative style than writing - tends to express through drawings
Believes writing starts with neither words nor drawings
Writing scaffolds everything, but is not necessary
Believes illustrations to be the 'main text' of any book
Believes books are about the relationship between what is present and what could be interpreted, a means of expression
The Lost Thing
In the classroom:
Shaun Tan
Author, Illustrator, Artist & Filmmaker
Who is Shaun Tan?
...an Australian author and illustrator.

Born in 1974 (39 years old)
Birthplace: Western Australia
Mother's ethnicity:
3rd generation Australian of Irish and English ancestry
Father's ethnicity:
Chinese, born in Penang, Malaysia
This is Shaun Tan...
Interesting Fact:
Tan Physics and Chemistry.
He wanted to become a Genetic Scientist!
Books featuring Shaun Tan
The Arrival
Picture Book/Graphic novel -
completely without any written narration
Took 4-5 years to complete
Plot: A man leaves his family for a new world and begins a journey of self-discovery and belonging in a whimsical and strange futuristic world.
Migration, immigrants, self-discovery, belonging, acceptance, new beginnings, learning, adaptation...
The Lost Thing
Picture book - with narration
Plot: A boy, with a penchant for collecting bottle tops, discovers a strange creature. Figuring it is lost, he sets out on a humorous journey to return it.
Discovery, belonging, acceptance, ignorance, friendship, journey, home...
Listed as an Honour Book at the CBCA Awards
Available in over 10 countries
The Red Tree
Picture book - without narration
Plot: A nameless girl travels through a series of images, representing the dark and bright times in life.
Self-discovery, feelings, emotions, acceptance, happiness, obstacles, belonging, fears, absence...
Picture book - with narration
Plot: A foreign exchange student comes to live with a normal family, who comes to realise there are some strange things about Eric.
Friendship, family, new beginnings, new places, belonging, differences, culture, understanding...
The Rabbits
Picture book - with narration
Written by John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan
Plot: A tale about colonisation of land.
Discovery, migration, land, invasion, new beginnings, acceptance, understandings, culture, parallelism..
tales from outer suburbia
Anthology of fifteen illustrated tales, including 'eric'
About: strange situations in a seemingly normal suburban world, narrating the reactions of characters
Discovery, belonging, differences, culture, reality, surrealism, parallelism, understanding, misunderstanding, ignorance...
2010 animated short film
Directed by Shaun Tan &
Andrew Ruhemann
Won 2011 Oscar for
Best Animated Short
Links to Shaun Tan
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.shauntan.net/
All books evoke similar themes: belonging, new beginnings, discovery, reality, dystopia etc.
In the classroom:
Introduce young children to different mediums, animation/short film topic or different interpretations.
'The Arrival' has won multiple awards including
Australian Premier Prize Awards in NSW & WA,
Hugo Awards (best science fiction and/or fantasy works)

Translated and available in over 16 countries
'The Water Buffalo'
'Broken Toys'
'Distant Rain'
"Consciously or otherwise, I've always been attracted to stories about characters who find themselves lost, displaced, in an unfamiliar world, or experiencing some other troubled sense of belonging...This preoccupation may have something to do with my background...I do empathise with those who feel a certain sense of displacement..."
- Shaun Tan, in Sketches from a nameless land,
Variety of influences
Parodies paintings by Edward Hopper & Jeffery Smart
"I'm pretty omnivorous when it comes to influences, and I like to admit this openly".
Many of Tan's books featured typography, and collages with montages of everyday scrap e.g. newspaper, stamps, tape etc.

"I'm very interested in things that are overlooked, and in trying to find value in things that are not considered valuable...It's also a good way to break the 'surface tension' of a blank canvas - just start sticking things on, almost without letting conscious decision-making get in the way."
Shaun Tan won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011, honouring his contribution to international children's literature.

(Swedish 5 million SEK prize, approx. 800, 000 AUD, authors/illustrators/narrators/storytellers consistently high quality artistic contribution to literature in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren.
"Shaun Tan is a masterly visual storyteller...His pictorial worlds constitute a separate universe where nothing is self-evident and anything is possible".
- Astrid Lindgerd Memorial Award Jury
"Tan evokes feelings of fear, of longing, of wonder and of joy, all by simply showing rather than telling".
-Catherine Charlesworth,
Critics At Large
“Tan’s illustrations are haunting and brilliantly paced. The story moves forward seamlessly, never stifling the reader’s interpretation of what the tale is about”.
-The Age
by Thu Nguyen
+ more......
- Shaun Tan is married to Finnish graphic designer, Inari Kiuru.
- Current activities include:
independent, non-commercial painting
theatre and filmmaking - namely adaptations of his books
freelance visual art work
Full transcript