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Shaun Tan Shaun Tan i(A41443 works by) (a.k.a. Tan)
Born: Established: ca. 1974 Fremantle, Fremantle area, South West Perth, Perth, Western Australia, ;
Gender: Male
Heritage: Malaysian Chinese
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Shaun Tan, the son of a Malaysian-Chinese father and an Anglo-Irish mother, is a multi-award winning artist and writer who lives and works in Melbourne (as at 2017).

As a child growing up in Perth, Shaun enjoyed reading, writing and illustrating poems and stories; and spent a lot of time drawing dinosaurs, robots and space ships.He was impressed by a book of horror poems called The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated 'in these creepy but also amusing pen and ink drawings by Arnold Lobel. I can still recall the images quite vividly, and borrowed that book many times from the library.' He was attracted by anything about monsters, outer space or robots. Tan also remembers Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick which he still admires as an adult as an ideal picture book experiment - a whole series of fragmentary sentences and singular strange drawings never fully explained. He also liked Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs, but only discovered many of his other books (and acknowledges their influence) as an adult. Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl were also 'favourites'.

As a teenager, Tan was mostly influenced by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, which seemed to him like strange dreams or adult fairy tales. Visually, Tan was probably influenced more by movies and television; the first Star Wars films, for example, are remembered for their designs much more than for the storyline. He participated in a special art program at secondary school but since then he has undertaken to teach himself the art of book illustration.

Some of his earliest works appeared in science fiction magazines (including Eidolon and Interzone) where he illustrated the work of authors such as Greg EganKaren AttardSean Williams, and Leanne Frahm.

In 1992, he won the International Illustrators of the Future Contest, the first Australian to achieve this award. He has been illustrating young adult fiction and picture books since 1996. At the University of WA, he completed an honours degree in English literature and art history, theory and criticism.

In 2002, Tan painted a much commended mural titled The Tea Party in the children's section of the Subiaco Library. Typical of his style, it portrays a surreal landscape with strange objects and a character who features in The Red Tree. More recently, the Subiaco library has commissioned a new mural, called The Hundred Year Picnic, now on display.

His work has won or been nominated for nearly 100 awards, as at November 2017. His international awards include Locus Awards, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Hugo Awards, and a World Fantasy Award. In Australia, his work has repeatedly won Ditmar and Aurealis Awards, as well as Premier's Awards across the country, multiple Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, and more.

Source: Inc. author's website.


Most Referenced Works


  • Tan illustrated works by overseas writers including The Wrong Grave (2009) a book of short stories for young adults by American writer Kelly Link.
  • Tan's cover illustrations also include: The Dark Lord of Geeragh (1999), Mitch?: Tarts of the New Milennium (2001).
  • Voted number 38 in the Booktopia Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors for 2018

  • Shaun Tan was chosen for the Australia Post 2019 Australian Legends of Children's Literature stamp issue . 

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Creature : Paintings, Drawings and Reflections 2022 Kew East : Windy Hollow , 2022 24805877 2022 single work autobiography art work

'A collection of Shaun Tan’s artwork from the past 25 years.

'The drawings and paintings in the book come from his'work in picture books and other works including films and graphic novels. Others were created for no specific purpose beyond the desire to see what something looks like, or just to follow a sketched line to see where it goes. Many works are previously unpublished. As the title suggests the collection and accompanying essays by Shaun explore his use of non-human creatures as a motif throughout his artwork. (Publication summary)

2023 finalist Locus Awards Art Book
2023 longlisted Indie Awards Illustrated Non-fiction
y separately published work icon MoonFish MoonFish : Poems to Make You Think and Laugh Abbotsford : Ford Street , 2019 15508423 2019 poetry picture book children's

'Children will love the humour and catchy rhymes of the twenty-nine poems featuring manic TVs, monsters and everything in between.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 shortlisted Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards Eight to 10 Years
y separately published work icon Tales from the Inner City Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2018 14152497 2018 selected work single work short story poetry prose art work

'Where can we live if not in each other's shadow? World-renowned artist Shaun Tan applies his unique imagination to a reflection on the nature of humans and animals, and our urban coexistence. From crocodile to frog, tiger to bee, this is a dark and surreal exploration of the perennial love and destruction we feel and inflict—of how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse. Tales from the Inner City is a masterful work, bearing all of Shaun Tan's trademark wit and poignancy in both its prose and exquisite illustrations.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2021 winner Premio Anderson Children's Book Awards (Italy) Best book over 15 years old Piccole storie dal centro trans. Omar Martini Tunue
2020 winner Yoto Carnegies Library Association Awards (UK) CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Awards Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration
2019 shortlisted Ditmar Awards Best Collected Work
2019 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Book of the Year for Older Children
2019 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Notable Book Older Readers
2018 winner Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction Best Collection
2018 winner Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction Best Illustrated Book / Graphic Novel
2019 shortlisted Indie Awards Children's
Last amended 6 May 2021 08:03:17
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