From math to doodles
Commercial artist harnesses insight, imagination and inspiration
When Gao Youjun graduated from the School of Mathematics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 1989, he decided to pursue his dream of drawing by completing a major in design at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University.
After that, he entered the prosperous advertising industry, when almost every advertiser was fairly enthusiastic and eloquent.
Gao’s style was always deliberate and he presented his freehand stories — which are lively and intuitive, and more than just beautiful words — in a soft voice. It was during these years that he began to enjoy drawing in his spare time using his pen-name, Tango, which is now more recognized than that of Gao.
A good advert is e r requires a creative mind. Luckily, his alter-ego Tango helps Gao harness extraordinary insight, imagination and endless inspiration.
At the end of 2010, Tango uploaded an extremely whimsical doodle, “How Does An Elephant Pick His Nose”, on Chinese social media Weibo. After this initial upload, Tango continued to upload one drawing each day for more than three years.
It is Tango’s dream to draw non-business comics with which he can help others and himself. He hopes such drawings can act as an escape for urbanites that suffer from the pressure of life and work, allowing them to feel the beauty of the world.
The works, collectively known as “A Doodle A Day”, most often exemplify his funny and inspiring ideas, but sometimes include barely satisfactory works, which he struggled to create for fans waiting until late at night. Starting from an unknown and lonely advertiser who drew only for himself, Tango has become a comic celebrity on Weibo who shares his laughter and energy with the world.
Thus far, he has completed more than 1,200 drawings, thanks to his persistent work to entertain others and himself. Last year, his first comic book, “Sleepless”, was published, containing a selection of his comic drawings from the past three years.
Tango’s doodles have a simple, fluent and funny style. His humor is obvious even without words and thinking. Everything he draws has its own expression. Even air has a shape and a piece of bread can be a protagonist.
“We should seek the joy and surprise in our daily life,” he said. “No matter how small we are and how frustrating life is, we shall endeavor to feel ‘alive’.”
A human being’s existence is a lonely existence. I am not alone at all, yet I am lonely. I make the impossible possible in my dreams. Drawing snapshots and fragments of memory, and posting them online, I find others with a similar spirit and mind. I finally realize I am not the only one who feels lonely, but loneliness is one of the birthmarks of humanity. A doodle a day, time explains how it gains. Unremitting efforts make the meaningless meaningful in the end.”