An online gamer's evolution into an artist and online celebrity

Updated 2017-10-27 10:03:03 Xinhua

It is 8 p.m. Ouyang Pengjie opens his account on Bilibili, a popular Chinese live streaming service where viewers can interact with hosts, and begins to draw. Soon he has over 14,000 people watching him work.

Unlike other live stream hosts, Ouyang does not speak a word. Sitting in front of his computer, he just draws with his ball-point and fountain pens, the only sound is soft background music.

Born in 1990, Ouyang is now one of the most popular live streaming hosts in China. Using various types of ink, he can produce images with extremely sophisticated details and can even create three-dimensional effects that astonish viewers.

An artwork can take Ouyang several hours to several days to complete, depending on its complexity.

"I sometimes feel lonely when I am drawing, and the loneliness can force me to talk to myself," said Ouyang.

The internet has always been his safe space, but its role has changed over the years.

Ten years ago, Ouyang spent most of his time in internet cafes playing online games. "All I drew was notebooks full of game strategies. I cut class on the first day of senior high school to go to the internet cafe but my father dragged me out," he recalled.

It was not until the following year that Ouyang was told he had a talent for art.

"My art teacher told my parents that I had a gift for drawing. Her words gave me new hope," he said.

The road to becoming an artist was not easy. "I was always ranked at the bottom of art exams in Changsha. I continued to practice, sleeping only three to four hours a day, and finally after around two months I won first place," he said.

"I obtained my first award and scholarship for drawing. It set a new direction for my life," Ouyang said.

After graduating from university in central China's Hunan Province, Ouyang moved to Beijing to become a freelance illustrator.

"When I first came to Beijing, I lived in a small room measuring less than 10 square meters," he said. Now, he lives Songzhuang, a popular art district, where thousands of tourists come to view artists studios every day.

His jaw-dropping drawing skills have won him millions of followers online. Over the past decade, since discovering his talent he has created more than 1,200 artworks.

In August this year, Ouyang took 100 hours to create a pen-and-ink artwork titled "Chase." In the drawing, an eagle takes flight being chased by an elephant and a hippo in a river, generating huge splashes of water. The drawing is so intricate it could be a photograph.

"I want to express an ideal mental outlook in the picture -- that you should chase your dreams just like animals do, and never give up no matter how difficult it is," he said.

Ouyang wants to become well-known in the art world, not just online, and promote pen drawing skills at universities to popularize what is seen as niche art form in China.

"Only by standing taller and becoming more capable can more people recognize you, and enable you to convey what you want to express," he said.

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