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Nan Lee

Nan Lee

Meet Seoul and New York-based illustrator, Nan Lee.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Nan, an illustrator based in Seoul and New York. I was born and raised in a small city in South Korea and studied in New Zealand and the USA. I moved to New York to study illustration and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2018. After school, I have been working as a freelance illustrator.


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

New York is a city that never seems to sleep. It has so many diverse cultures from all over the world gathered here. I love how people are always buzzing around with such vibrant energy. I get energy from them and that makes me move forward. The liveliness keeps me on my toes and pushes me forward. Every neighborhood here has its own unique presence. It is always fun to explore and experience little pockets of cultures from around the world. This city also has a lot of artistic talent and it motivates me to improve my own craft.


I love how people are always buzzing around with such vibrant energy. I get energy from them and that makes me move forward.

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

Best: Artistic city/ Creative and talented people/ Lots of opportunities/ Art museums/ Free galleries

Worst: Traffic/ Dirty Subway/ $$$$$/ Rats and Roaches!


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

Whimsical, Vibrant, Fun


How did you start your career in art?

After I graduated from college, I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. Even though I tried my best to promote my work, it wasn’t easy to break into the professional field. People around me started to get jobs and as time passed by, I felt so frustrated and started to lose my confidence. However, I kept making my own artwork and gradually built my portfolio. This changed my life. As my work got more exposure to the public, I started to get illustration jobs that I really wanted to do. It’s only been a year but luckily I have worked on amazing projects with various clients. It may sound too obvious but this is how I started my career. I am proud of myself for not giving up! 🙂


I am proud of myself for not giving up!

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

Definitely! I am so lucky that I have so many people who care about me. I want to thank my parents for being so supportive. They always encouraged and respected me in whatever I do.


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

Making my own animation! As a huge fan of Disney, my ultimate life goal is working at Disney as a concept artist/ character designer 🙂


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

Collaborate with any of my favorite bands/ singers for an album cover or music video


How would you describe the women around you?

Independent, Supportive, Inspiring!


Independent, Supportive, Inspiring!

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

I couldn’t think of any artists that I looked up to when I was growing up. But now, there are so many admirable and talented female artists in the creative field. I have also been inspired a lot by other female illustrators while I studied in college.


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

I am still new to this industry so I haven’t really experienced any discrimination as a female artist. However, gender and race shouldn’t matter in any industry!


Be patient, your time will come!

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

Be patient, your time will come!

Don’t be lazy. The world is way more competitive than you think.

Be brave and keep exploring! Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Do what you love! We are lucky that we can work while doing what we love.



Photos courtesy of Nan Lee.