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Li Zhang

Li Zhang

Meet illustrator from New York, Li Zhang.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Jiangsu Province, China.  Currently, I am a freelance illustrator based in New York City. I graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in illustration major. Prior to moving to the States, I worked as a product engineer for Groupe PSA (A French automotive company) in Shanghai. Combining rational logical thinking with creative imagination, I like creating symbolic, geometrical illustrations that has diversity and the power of storytelling through a colorful pattern-based style.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

New York is a city hard to describe. It is a very diverse city which is extremely romantic and extremely cruel. Just like a person, he is very attractive with lots of strengths but also, he has significant weaknesses, whom you love and hate at the same time. Many people from all the world come and leave NY every day, but there would always be more fresh blood into this big city. Take MTA as an example, it is dirty and scruffy, but it runs for 24 hours and there are always world-class performances by street artists. The faces of New Yorkers are complex and diverse. And they are passionate and alienated from others at the same time. For myself, here is the starting point of my art dream, the witness of my struggle time, and ultimately the stage of my dream come true.

 

Combining rational logical thinking with creative imagination, I like creating symbolic, geometrical illustrations that has diversity and the power of storytelling through a colorful pattern-based style.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about living in New York is the creative atmosphere in the city. There are many great art shows, art communities, art galleries and museums in New York. Also, there are full of great creative artists who are very supportive and motivative. You can always get many inspirations and motivations here.

The worst thing is the expensive living expense here.  Like other big international cities, high tax in NYC made it very difficult to survive here especially as an artist. Due to the stress of living, most artists have to do another day-paid part-time job to support their art careers.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Diverse, busy, competitive

 

How did you start your career in art?

I started my art career by re-entering into an art college (Fashion institute of technology) in 2016 in NY.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Honestly, in the beginning, my parents thought I was crazy to quit my previous job as an engineer which could provide me a more stable life and bright future (they thought). But I insisted on my choice. With my efforts, they gradually changed their minds and became very supportive and proud of me.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

In the short term, I just want to improve my professional skills so my portfolio can attract more dream clients that I really want to work with.

For future plans in the long term, I want to have my own studio and my own brand. I am very interested in exploring more combination possibilities of art and business.

 

I am very interested in exploring more combination possibilities of art and business.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

There are many talented people in different fields. If I have to pick one, Jack Ma, who is the co-founder and executive chair of Alibaba Group. I think he is super brilliant. I can learn a lot from the collaboration with him.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are very smart, ambitious, independent, career-oriented, and really passionate about their jobs.

 

They are very smart, ambitious, independent, career-oriented, and really passionate about their jobs.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Yes. There are some great Asian female illustrators, such as Victo Ngai, Lisk Feng, Yuko Shimizu. Especially Yuko Shimizu, she also chose illustration as her second career, which gave me lots of courage to pursue my art career.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

No. I think it is pretty fair in illustration industry. The artwork itself decides if you can stand out or not.

 

Feel confident to be yourself and speak out your voice. Never let others to make decisions for you.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

To do what you really love. Be determined and persistent.

Feel confident to be yourself and speak out your voice. Never let others make decisions for you.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Li Zhang

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