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Mengxin Li

Mengxin Li

Meet illustrator and motion graphic designer from Jersey City, Mengxin Li.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Mengxin Li. I am a freelance illustrator and motion graphic designer. I was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. I went to SCAD to pursue my career as an illustrator and graduated in 2017 with an MFA degree in Illustration. I enjoy creating conceptual illustrations with a sense of humor, and I also think that motion graphic techniques could bring out a lot of potential for visual storytelling. My works have been selected for Society of Illustrators 60, AI-AP’s International Motion Art Awards 6, and American Illustration 34, etc. I have the honor to work with some of the well-known companies and publishers including Adobe, Google, TED, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, etc.

 

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

By far I have lived in 4 different cities in my life, which is Guangzhou, Changchun, Savannah, and Jersey City. I consider myself a city girl because I was born and raised in one of the biggest cities in China, which is Guangzhou. I do think my experience of living in the city has deeply influenced my work. I enjoy drawing buildings, cars, and busy streets. Living in Jersey is quiet and peaceful, I love to go to the Hudson riverside to exercise and clear my mind. I also enjoy watching the sunset and sunrise of the Manhattan skyline from this side of the river. Compared to Brooklyn, there aren’t many creative people living here in Jersey, but you can always go to Manhattan to meet new people and attend art events.

 

I enjoy creating conceptual illustrations with a sense of humor, and I also think that motion graphic techniques could bring out a lot of potential for visual storytelling.

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

One thing I love about living in Jersey City is that you can enjoy the busy city life in New York and come back to a quiet place to regain a peaceful mind. The worst thing about living in Jersey is the winter is too long and too cold for me.

 

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

fun, busy, and networking

 

How did you start your career in art?

Actually I went to law school in China for my bachelor’s degree. Eventually, I decided I have to pursue what I truly love, so I applied for the MFA illustration program in SCAD and went to Savannah to learn both the creative side and business side of the illustration industry. I basically got all my job opportunities by sending out promotional emails to art directors. I have collected thousands of art directors’ names and emails from the past three years. The first job I got was from The New York Times. At that time, I really wanted to start my career in NYT, so I decided to work a little bit harder. What I have done was I chose one article that has used illustration; I reinterpreted the article in my own concept and style. I figured I would go one step further to impress the art directors, so I chose one article that was published on Monday, and I recreated the illustration in one day and sent it to them on Tuesday. One week later, I got my first job from NYT.

 

Actually I went to law school in China for my bachelor’s degree. Eventually, I decided I have to pursue what I truly love, so I applied for the MFA illustration program in SCAD and went to Savannah to learn both the creative side and business side of the illustration industry.

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

My parents have been pretty skeptical about my decision to transition my career from law to illustration. I don’t blame them because they have no idea of how the creative industry works. But now that they understand how it works, they have been very proud of me.

 

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

I am planning to start a personal project, which allows me to create something that is more bizarre and quirky. In terms of ambitions, I would love to create a mural project in the near future.

 

I am planning to start a personal project, which allows me to create something that is more bizarre and quirky. In terms of ambitions, I would love to create a mural project in the near future.

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

I would love to collaborate with Jango Jim. I love the energy and cute characters in his illustrations. It would be great if we could collaborate one day.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

The women around me are mostly independent, funny, carefree and hard workers. I love to surround myself with people that are positive, relax and who are able to share some deep thoughts with me.

 

The women around me are mostly independent, funny, carefree and hard workers. I love to surround myself with people that are positive, relax and who are able to share some deep thoughts with me.

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

I went to drawing class together with my best friend back in primary school, she was very good with colors and I was good at drawing lines. She is not necessary a local female creative, but we do share our first art journey together.

 

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

For me, I did not experience any challenging aspects of being a female in the illustration industry. Because art directors don’t need to know who I am in order to hire me.  Often times, we communicate through emails, we don’t know each other’s age, gender, race or appearance. There are many times that I thought I have been working with a male art director the whole time, then I find out ‘he’ is actually a ‘she’ through their LinkedIn profile.

 

Keep working hard and keep working smart.

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

Illustration industry is definitely not the easiest career path that one could have, but it is definitely worth a journey if you are truly passionate about drawing and creating. Keep working hard and keep working smart. Many people are more focused on the creative aspect of the illustration industry and neglect the business part of it. Being a freelance illustrator is like running a small business; it is beneficial to have some marketing knowledge in order to keep your business strong and healthy.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Mengxin Li.

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