Before we ask the serious questions…we noticed that Peter Draw sounds a lot like your name, Peter Zhuo. Is this intentional?
I am not so creative! (Laughs). I was known as Peter’s Cartoon first. However, one day, the kids whom I taught drawing to began to joke , “Oh, you’re Peter Draw, Peter Zhuo, Peter Draw…Peter Zhuo”. Draw and Zhuo got blurred as they sound alike! For the last 16 years, I have used this name to help children and give back to society. If you think about it, my Chinese name is Zhuo Ying Wei. Zhuo Ying sounds like drawing!
What inspired you to start Peter Draw?
When I was six, I attended my first art lesson at a childcare centre. Before the class, the teacher asked everyone for a $20 fee. I told the teacher that I didn’t have the money as my father was the sole breadwinner and sold umbrellas for a living.
I was already gripping my pencil, ready to start drawing, but the teacher commented that I couldn’t even hold a pencil properly and asked me to leave the class. I ran home and cried. Since then, I resolved to help others. I want to protect people who cannot protect themselves, especially children, just like the helpless six-year-old me back then.
When I was 16, I started Peter Draw, and now I’ve dedicated half my life to helping others through drawing. In 2011, when a tsunami hit Japan, I travelled to China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Costa Rica to get children whose lives were affected by disasters to draw encouraging pictures for the children in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi. These prefectures were severely affected by the nuclear plant crisis caused by the tsunami.
We noticed that you enjoy helping seniors too. Why?
I have a soft spot for the elderly because of my grandfather. After being chased out of the drawing class, my grandfather comforted me. He told me the story of a boy who was just like me: Loved drawing, had thick eyebrows, held his pencil in a unique way and looked good in a red sweater. The boy was also kicked out of an art lesson because he couldn’t afford the 20 dollars. When I heard that, I went “Ah Gong, how is it possible that his story is so similar to mine?!”