To Wang Chong-ju (王重儒), a 31-year-old Taiwanese illustrator better known as Chiyou (蚩尤), female high-school students are characterized not only by their seemingly inexhaustible energy, but also by their perfectly ironed school shirts and pleated skirts.
Motivated by his fascination with the various designs and colors of high-school uniforms, Wang decided to make them the major theme for his much-anticipated new illustration book, titled Collection of Taiwan High School Girl Uniforms (制服至上:臺灣女高中生制服選).
The book features scores of slim female figures with youthful, silken complexions — the trademark of Wang’s illustration works — clad in the uniforms of 51 high schools in northern Taiwan, including Taipei First Girls’ High School, Taipei Jingmei Girls’ High School and the National Wuling Senior High School.
It also includes drawings of young women wearing out-of-print school uniforms produced during the Japanese colonial period and the uniforms of some of the most well-known student clubs across the nation, such as Jingmei school’s tug-of-war team, Chih Ping Senior High School’s cheerleading team and Zhongshan Senior High School’s kendo club.
“These student clubs have achieved remarkable accomplishments that have made their fellow classmates very proud,” Wang said.
To ensure that the female students portrayed in his works look “pure and innocent,” Wang said he had laid down several ground rules in designing their appearance.
“Their hair cannot be permed or dyed, nor can they wear makeup or accessories. They also have to wear their uniforms properly without showing their cleavage,” Wang said.
Wang said all the illustrated figures wear the uniforms in a manner that conforms to school regulations.
“For instance, Daojiang Senior High School of Nursing and Home Economics regulations state that the school skirt must not be more than three finger-widths above the knees and students cannot sling their school bag across their chest,” Wang said.
Wang said he made a careful study of the details of each uniform to make sure his illustrations were “100 percent” accurate — from the school badges printed on shirt buttons to the patterns and the number of pleats on the skirts.
“The process of painting the uniforms was painstaking. To learn more details about the uniforms, I had to conduct careful research online, or approach female students on the streets,” he said.
“I also called up each of the schools asking them to provide me with more information,” he said.
The illustration book, his seventh, was published on Jan. 22 after two years in the making. Wang’s drawing talent has helped him make a name for himself in Japan and secure the opportunity to represent Taiwan at the 40th Angouleme International Comics Festival held in January last year in Angouleme, France.
Wang said he would consider creating illustrations featuring uniforms of schools from other parts of the country if his new publication is well-received.
He also encouraged readers to attend his book signing on Feb. 8 at the Taipei International Book Exhibition.
Those who come in school uniforms have a chance to win a special gift, he said.