The Q&A: Lisk Feng

By Peggy Roalf   Monday March 13, 2017

Q: Originally from the Far East, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in New York?

A: I am originally from Haining, China, a little town not far from Shanghai and Hangzhou. I moved to Baltimore and studied at the grad program Illustration Practice of Maryland Institute College of Art after graduated from China Academy of Art. After finishing my studies, I moved to New York and started working as a full time freelance illustrator. When I saw NYC, I knew this was the place for me to create illustrations. I love drawing people, and NYC has the diversity of people and gigantic buildings, I still have many inspirations while looking at people from NYC, I love guessing their own stories. In additional, New York has a great and beloved art community, which made me feel like belonging to.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: Yes, I have many sketchbooks. A lot of them are pocket-size, so that I could doodle all the time on the go. My problem is I do sketches really loose and relaxed, but sometimes I take finals too seriously, so they look tighter than the sketches. So recently I started to use some hand-drawn methods onto digital illustrations, such as making more natural textures by hand, using different tools instead of one or two brushes in computer. I like both sides (tight or loose), but combining these two together makes my art more detailed and whimsical. I will continue doing that.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: My black cat Poepoe. But if it needs to be an object, it is my Taylor guitar. Playing music can be a pretty neat relaxing and a way to enjoy Me Time.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: This is a tricky question. I do my illustrations differently, but I feel like I tell myself where to stop by looking at it closer and further constantly, so that I covered all details and it’s polished enough and solid. It is mostly about an illustrator’s eyes, when you are experienced enough you will get to know your own work well, and you will tell yourself when to stop. It is basically making myself feel comfortable.


Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: I would say when sometimes I don't feel like working but I have to, or if I cannot think of any great ideas about an editorial piece, I will do random doodles using very different tools such as oil pastels and ink on large sheets of paper, keep doing it until I have something in my head to draw. So I would say doodle itself plays a big part and exert the most influence on my work. I also love movies and books!

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: My favorite book was The House of Arden written by E. Nesbit, published in 1908.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: The best book I have read recently is Without You There Is No Us written by Suki Kim.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: I will go with oil pastels! It is rough, loose and freestyle because now you can forget about all the crazy fine details and focus on loosening up your grid and doing larger size. Oil pastel is a thing you can just go for it, make your hands dirty. This makes me happy, doing that.

Q: If you could spend an entire day away from work and deadlines, what would you do and where?

A: I love the ocean and beach, so I would probably sit next to the sea and watch the whole sky changing color from morning to night while drinking tropical flavor juice.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: When I was a little kid I saw pointillism artist Georges Seurat's stuff in my mom's textbook. She was an art history teacher in a high school, and I was amazed by the beautiful shapes and the dreamy colors. I still remember my mom telling me the dots can have limitations for making details. When I looked at Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte, I could stare at it for an hour, and still can't take my eyes off the front lady's dress shape.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Oh, give me all the crazy good sushi from Japan!


Lisk Feng is an awardwinning illustrator who is originally from China, and now become a New York based freelance illustrator. She graduated from MFA Illustration Practice from Maryland institute College of Art in 2014, and at the same time received some awards such as Society of illustrators, Communication Arts, 3X3 Student Award Silver Medal, 3X3 Children's Book Honorable mentioned, 3X3 Silver Medal, American Illustration [chosen winner, selected winner and annual], Adobe Design Award Semi-final, AOI Illustration Awards(UK) shortlist etc.

Client List: United Nation, New York Times, HSBC, Warby Parker, Abrams Books, Monocle, Medium, Atlanta Magazine, Mr Porter Magazine, Wissen Magazine, Scientific American, Travel+Leisure, Nautilus Magazine, CIMA FM, ELLE MEN, Huffington Post, Modern Farmer, Bust Magazine, Asiana Airline,Explore Magazine, Corporate Knghts, Wired, The Glenlivet, Lohus Magazine, Firewords Quarterly, Hyphen Magazine, Time Our New York, Time Out Kids, GREY, Yue Hui Magazine, Fast Company Magazine, Life Magazine, JESS3,  PLANSPONSOR, Chief Investment Officer, Digiday, Children's Literature and so on.


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