Internet illustrator Yeh Jou-chun (葉柔君) creates popular works and mobile app stickers featuring her pet rabbits, offering tips for pet owners and animal lovers.
Yeh, whose online persona Bu Sih Tu (不死兔, “Immortal Rabbit”) has more than 230,000 followers on Facebook, said that Pu Zih (噗滋) and Pu Ni (噗妮), the characters that made her an online celebrity, are based on her adopted pet rabbits.
Yeh said she wanted a rabbit because it is her Chinese zodiac sign, and has had her first rabbit, Pu Zih, since her college days when she was studying fine art at the Tainan University of Technology.
After a laboratory rabbit at the animal husbandry and veterinary sciences department gave birth to a litter, a university friend gave her one of the kits. She later adopted Pu Ni — the more social and friendly of the two — from the Taiwan Rabbit Saving Association.
At the time, the rabbits made occasional appearances on her blog BossTwo420, a cartoon graphic art site that chronicled her relationship with her boyfriend, Yeh said.
However, after she began to sell her work on social media, the rabbits took over the blog and most of her commercial creations, she said.
When demand for stickers on the messaging app Line increased along with its users, she decided to try selling her illustrations, she said.
Yeh said her first batch of stickers on relationships and romance did not reverberate with users, so she switched her focus onto her rabbits, which many of her blog followers seemed to enjoy.
The rabbit-centric illustrations were an instant success, so she also made them the protagonists of her comic strips, Yeh said.
“A whole bunch of things conspired to make Pu Zih into the star rather than a supporting cast member. I am very grateful to have Pu Zih and Pu Ni in my life. They are the inspiration for my creations and brought me joy when my career was ebbing,” she said.
As she owes her commercial success to her pets, she has been paying them back by disseminating knowledge for rabbit owners through her art, Yeh said.
For example, cartoons and popular culture often mislead rabbit owners into thinking their pet should mostly eat carrots, but a healthy diet should be mainly comprised of forage grasses, and carrots should only be served as an occasional snack, she said.
She plans to help raise awareness for adoption and correct rabbit care, and is to collaborate with the Taiwan Rabbit Saving Association on a campaign against pet abandonment.