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Xinmei Liu

Xinmei Liu

Meet illustrator from Shanghai and New York, Xinmei Liu

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Xinmei Liu and I was born in Shanghai, China. I make illustrations, prints and books. I currently live in Queens, NY and work as a freelance illustrator. My work is mostly focused on my cultural background, social issues, childhood experience and history. I always have comedy/variety shows on as background when I work. I have a rabbit named Kitty Cat.

 

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

This is my seventh year living in New York City. Even though I dream of getting away from the city all the time, I will miss it so much when I actually leave. Basically everything is here, from world-renowned galleries to 3 am food deliveries. The subway is really convenient, especially for someone who can’t drive (like me).

My hometown Shanghai is in many ways very similar to New York. It’s fast-paced and convenient and full of all kinds of people. For me, Shanghai means memories and history, of both myself and the city. In history, it has always been a mixing pot of cultures, something you will constantly be reminded of when walking down any street in Shanghai today.

 

My hometown Shanghai is in many ways very similar to New York. It’s fast-paced and convenient and full of all kinds of people. For me, Shanghai means memories and history, of both myself and the city.

 

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

In New York there is a really strong and supportive creative community, something I haven’t seen in my hometown. I am extremely lucky to be able to hang out with people who think in similar ways and who inspire me. The worst thing is probably that I miss the presence of plants in the streets. In New York you don’t see a lot of trees on the sidewalks, and really need to go to a park to be around plants.  I miss the smell of a fresh meadow after the rain when I live in the city.

 

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

community, excitement, resourceful

 

How did you start your career in art?

My parents were scientists so I never thought I’d actually go to art school when I was a kid or teenager. I always liked drawing and painting but hadn’t thought of doing it for a living. When I was deciding on college majors, I realized art was the only thing I was passionate about, so I went ahead and applied for art schools. After I graduated, I decided I want to try my best to stay in the creative field and my career naturally followed.

 

My parents were scientists so I never thought I’d actually go to art school when I was a kid or teenager. I always liked drawing and painting but hadn’t thought of doing it for a living.

 

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

When I decided that I want to be in the creative field, my parents frowned and sighed, probably thinking that they would be able to help me more had I chosen chemistry or engineering. But soon they realized that I was super serious about it and became much more supportive. I was also fortunate to have several friends that backed me up when I followed a dream that didn’t seem realistic at the time.

 

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

In addition to being an illustrator/printer, I am looking forward to being a publisher and publishing works of other artists as well.

 

In addition to being an illustrator/printer, I am looking forward to being a publisher and publishing works of other artists as well.

 

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

I recently almost got a chance to work on a project related to Phantom of the Opera, which is my all-time favorite musical. Imagine my disappointment when that project didn’t come through! If I have a chance I’d absolutely love to collaborate with Andrew Lloyd Webber!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I am surrounded by creative women who are motivated and open-minded, who know what they want and work hard for it.

 

I am surrounded by creative women who are motivated and open-minded, who know what they want and work hard for it.

 

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

When I was growing up, I was expected to always be the leader in my group (which I wasn’t really comfortable with) and looked up to world leaders and politicians, so I never really paid attention to creatives. Now that I think about it, I really can’t name any local female creative that was active at the time.

 

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

Fortunately, there are many women working in my industry already. Personally, I haven’t felt challenged because of my identity as a woman. But what made me wonder was that throughout art school I was taught by way more male than female instructors. I definitely don’t think there are fewer great female artists that are capable of teaching, so I feel there’s some institutional problem here.

 

Your work is usually better than you think! So be confident of yourself and don’t question your talent over one difficult employer/client!

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

Your work is usually better than you think! So be confident of yourself and don’t question your talent over one difficult employer/client! Also, it’s always good to have a hobby that’s not art-related, so you can have something to relax with or to make art about.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Xinmei Liu.

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