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Become a pro at writing with creative writing classes under a published author!  

Janice is an illustrator, comic creator and educator with over 6 years of experienceShe currently is Place des Arts Creative Writing (ages: 7 – 9 and 10-13) and DIY Comics (ages 8-12) instructor. She has had short story comics published in magazines & anthologies and is working on her most ambitious project to date, a middle-grade graphic novel. She is the artist of Chicken Soup & Goji Berries 药鸡汤 a graphic novel written by Naomi Cui.  

Find out more about her as experiences as a creator, artist and teacher below.  

As a Creator 

Janice Liu started as a self-taught illustrator and moved towards creating comics in 2015. She has always been a reader, but through comics she became more interested in writing and made efforts to learn all about it. “Watching a lot of videos about writing and reading books about how to write” was important in her learning.  

When studying at the University of Toronto, she took a picture book writing course with notable children’s author, Cary Fagan. Learning from someone with over 20 years of experience helped her gain confidence as a writer 

When Janice moved to BC to be closer to family, her passion for art followed.  

As an Artist 

Janice’s work explores identity, as a Chinese Canadianand uses fantasy to capture inner thoughts and feelingsOne of her favourite writing experiences was creating a short story comic called Floatpublished in Augur, a genre and speculative fiction magazineThe story is a reflection of her style as it touches on the Asian diasporic experience and uses supernatural elements.  

Interestingly, Janice’s educational background is not in illustration and writing. In university she studied Cognitive Science and East Asian Studies which has made its way into her writing. She has used her experiences to form herself as an artist which she believes is necessary for all aspiring writers. In her words, studying creative writing is beneficial because:  

  • You learn more about yourself by discovering what kinds of stories you like to tell. 
  • You develop a greater admiration of literary techniques that your favourite authors use. 
  • You develop literacy, which is key to communication and everyday life skills. 

Using her experiences, knowledge and interests have shaped her work, which she encourages in all her students.  

As a Teacher 

Janice started teaching at Place des Arts in September 2018 and has taught art for children and teens since 2013. She also has delivered various art and comic workshops at schools and libraries, including the Burnaby Public Library. 

As a teacher, she believes it is important that kids have a positive experience with reading and writingShe says, “I’m trying to get them over any fears and negative feelings that they have first and once they are over that, that’s when they unleash their expression and use those skills to talk about what they are interested in and stories they want to tell. I try to help students become the best version of themselves and tell the stories they love. And learn how to communicate what they want properly. 

She believes it’s key to be positive, supportive and flexible. One of her best memories as a teacher at Place des Arts was when she asked a student how their summer was, after not seeing them for a couple of months. The student replied, Good, except I had to wait so long until this class started again!”

She also recalls a teen class she held with a lot of supportive and encouraging students who exchanged emails on the last day of class so they could continue to help each other out.  

Creative writing often benefits from being able to bounce ideas off other people, especially writers with different experiences and ideas. Janice participates in a writing group run by Cloudscape Comics and continues to find ways to grow as an illustrator and writer.  

Her tips for writing are: 

  • Read a lot and read different genres and voices. Reading is the key to increasing literacy. 
  • Think about stories, shows, movies you love and do “close readings” of them. What did the writer do to make the story awesome? 
  • Keep showing up. Any creative path can be hard at times. Don’t be discouraged – just try to have fun and keep chipping away little by little, and your efforts will pay off. 

If you love writing, or just want to gain more experiencetake one of Janice’s classes at Place des Arts (see below). Use creative writing as an aide to everyday life. Being an effective communicator is a great skill for school, for your family and for life in general.  

Also, for those of you with an interest in drawing, Janice’s background as an illustrator is what led her to creative writing. Drawing what you are writing about can help if you are struggling for inspiration.  

Sign up for one of Janice’s classes today:  

Creative Writing (7-9 years) 

Creative Writing (10-13 years) 

DIY Comics (8-12 years) 

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