Meet our staff
Drawings of Hmong and Lao traditions
Gikong (pronounced Chee-gong) started illustrating books for Big Brother Mouse soon after we opened our office in mid-2006, after a friend suggested he show some of his drawings to Khamla.
As a child, Gikong drew pictures whenever he could find a pencil and exercise book. He still draws many pictures based on his childhood memories of life in the mountains, and in his Hmong village. Gikong feels especially proud to be able to communicate the traditions of his Hmong culture and images of Laos through his work.
With seven siblings, much of Gikong's time as a child went to helping the family by cooking, feeding the animals, and working in the gardens. His parents were farmers who burned off their crops after the harvest, so Gikong's family moved every year. There was no school nearby, and no roads, so as a high school student, Gikong lived in a guest house near his school in Pak-Ou district during the school year, and traveled to Luang Prabang to study English during the school vacation.
His first illustrations for Big Brother Mouse appear in the Lao Animals Coloring Book. His skills have grown considerably since he came to Big Brother Mouse, a result of many factors: increased time to practice, the small library of art books we have available for our staff, tips from occasional visiting artists, and especially, his own determination to improve. Gikong's strong sense of composition shines through in the pictures he drew for a book about Hmong culture and customs, which we will publish as a tri-lingual Lao, Hmong, and English book.
Like most of our staff, Gikong helps at some of our book parties in rural villages. By talking with visitors at Big Brother Mouse, he has greatly improved his English skills, and has expressed interest in learning new skills. So he now spends several hours a day on the computer, learning desktop publishing.
When he has free time, he likes to travel into the nearby mountains, sometimes with his drawing materials, where he gets new ideas for his work.