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Drawing inspiration from passion

Updated: 2023-11-03 07:16 ( China Daily )
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An artwork by Lian Zongbo showing legendary NBA players. [Photo provided to China Daily]

For many people, the perfect career would be one in which they do what they love to make a living, but in reality, not many have either the luck or the luxury to do so, given financial concerns and other considerations. Freelance digital cartoonist Lian Zongbo is fully aware of the pitfalls, but decided to take the plunge and chase his dream, anyway.

After graduating from the South China Agricultural University in 2010, he started as a junior animator at a company in Guangzhou city, Guangdong province, but after six years of mediocrity in the industry, Lian was becoming jaded with life.

"I'd struggled for quite some time at my company. Most of my work was childish. I was looking to do something I was really into," the 36-year-old says.

A huge basketball fan growing up, and adept at a range of drawing methods, Lian discovered a niche market in sports artwork. "I doodled a lot when I was young, daydreaming of becoming a manga legend like Akira Toriyama one day. Then I fell in love with basketball later, and would mimic Kobe Bryant's moves all day long," he explains.

In early 2016, he had the idea of combining his interests. Lian started drawing illustrations based on the NBA and shared them on social media platforms like Sina Weibo and Instagram, but the sporadic feedback initially dampened his enthusiasm.

"I would tag many big sports accounts to no avail, which motivated me to try harder, because I was too proud to admit failure," he says, jokingly.

In January 2017, about a year after he started, he received the message on his Instagram account that would change his life forever. Sent by Conscious Basketball, a team of artists based in the United States that produces art related to the sport, the message invited Lian to display his work at art shows in the US.

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