American Urban Illustrator in Taipei: “An Hour Lunch Break is Prime Time that Belongs to Yourself”


The revolution of social media allows many individual artists to display their works to a larger audience. For example, Adrian Hogan presents realistic Tokyo street scenes with his panoramic coffee cup sketches, and Yamasaki Tatsuya depicts the intriguing daily life of Tainan, Taiwan. Now Taipei also has an illustrator sketching the urban view of Taipei—Ted Pigott from the U.S.

Before deciding to become an artist, Pigott had been working 9 to 5 for a branding company. He helped local brands develop their core value, and create slogans and other copy. Under constant pressure, day after day, his creativity and passion towards his job decreased. He began to think, “Who am I living for?” He ended up quitting his job last year, and began to focus on his art full-time.


“Drawing is my project, and I’m my top client!”


Why drawing? Pigott said, “If you want to find out who you really are, look back to the time when you were five-years-old, and try to recall what you liked to do the most back then.” He believes that people truly like what they were passionate about when they were little. For him, this passion was drawing. Making use of his experience in branding, he knows how to build up his own brand by social media. After managing his own brand as an artist for a year, he has learned to live for himself: “Drawing is my project, and I’m my top client!”

A month before the interview, the owner of Toasteria Café saw Pigott’s sketches on the Internet, and some of them were illustrating the views in Toasteria. Right after that, Pigott was cordially invited by the owner to exhibit the drawings on the wall of the second floor in Toasteria. Beers, sandwiches, and omelet rice were depicted with a casual touch, echoing the atmosphere of the café. Featuring simple lines and clean strokes, Pigott’s art also reflects who he is. Sometimes introspective, sometimes having a sense of humor, his illustrations honestly express his feelings at the moment.

Not only cafes, every corner of Taipei brings him inspiration. On the street, in the park, on the MRT, he quietly observes pedestrians and urban scenes wherever he goes. Holding a pen and a sketchbook, he tends to be driven into his own imagination while seeing what is happening around him. A girl with a ponytail holding a bag on the MRT, a bee humming around the balcony of a café, a can of coke and a plate of French fries on a table are all themes of his creations. After living in Taipei for 19 years, he is still inspired by the city, where there are always new things emerging around him.


“I keep reminding myself to be a tourist in Taipei again.”


Ted knows well that Taiwanese tend to work long hours (unwillingly) in the office. Every time he hears Taiwanese complaining that their life is boring, he always suggests, “Make use of your lunch break! You don’t always have to spend your lunchtime with a bunch of colleagues. Find a café you like, give yourself an hour to do whatever you like to do, leave your job behind temporarily, and enjoy the time that belongs only to yourself. Then you may find that the one-hour break makes a big difference in your daily life.”

From his perspective, creative thinking requires authentic living experiences, and keeping working under high time pressure actually stifles creativity. “I keep reminding myself to be a tourist in Taipei again,” said Ted thoughtfully.

Now he has more time to spend with his family, enjoying drawing with his son. Though he doesn’t make as much money as before, he earns himself happiness. He has finally found his life career after 21 years of working, but he doesn’t think the detour is a waste of time either. “I would not have become who I am now without that 21-year experience.”

When we asked him if he is afraid of facing the uncertainty of a career shift, he answered firmly, “It must be something you are really interested in that you spend your time on, and then make it as perfect as possible. You have to believe what you believe. My sketches reflect Taipei in my eyes, and I believe drawing is the best way for me to describe Taipei to the world.”

Pigott continued, “If you can’t make up your mind to take the leap at the moment, set a deadline for yourself, and just start to do it. There is never a perfect time to start. Don’t think too much, and just be honest with yourself. It’s okay to move forward slowly on a modest scale. You can’t expect that what you do can go viral at the first stage, but at least you won’t regret ‘Why didn’t I start to do it three years ago? Now someone else has been working on it!’”

About Ted Pigott:

Ted Pigott is from Northwest Indiana, just outside of Chicago, in the American Midwest. After graduating cum laude from DePauw University with a degree in English Composition, he lived in New York City, traveled throughout Europe, and worked and traveled in several parts of Asia, including China, Tibet, and India.

He is now based in Taipei, a city he has grown to love during his eighteen years here. These days, when he’s not exploring Taipei’s back alleys and leafy lanes on his bicycle, he can be found in the city’s cafés and restaurants, eating and drawing, especially at lunchtime.

As an artist, he believes these things are true: Draw what you see. Draw what you love, and love what you draw. Share your work. Don’t think—just draw. Every day is better when you draw.

To see more of Ted’s works:


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