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Interview with Artist & Illustrator Yulong Lli

Last Updated on 2021/01/20

Inspiring Shanghai Illustrator Yulong Lli turning draw and illustration artwork into a moment of joy and possibilities

Yulong Lli is a Shanghai-based freelance illustrator who studied at the China Academy of Art and is represented by Richard Solomon in New York. In his drawings and illustrations, he seeks and explores new ways to tell stories through different colors and creating compositions, where his creative style remarks the fusion of eastern and western culture. The inspiration for his graphic design also comes from vintage posters and modernism. He has an impressive list of well-known clients: Apple, Airbnb, Google, Uber, Ikea, LVMH, Gucci, Cartier, Pernod Ricard, Starbucks, Vogue, GQ magazine, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, New York Times, ELLE Decoration, Johnson & Johnson, Bloomberg Businessweek, Men’s Health, Hong Kong Airlines, Modern Weekly magazine, LVMH, etc … These are just some of the many brands that Yulong Lli has worked with. He has received many international awards, including Hiii Illustration 2016 best of best, 3X3 illustration annual, Communication Arts Illustration annual, and ADA’s Genius Award.

Official Site | Behance | Instagram

How did your adventure in the illustration world begin? What motivated you to become an illustrator?

I majored in animation during college time, and l realized that I prefer illustration to 3D after trying different intern jobs. At the same time, I never give up on updating my daily sketches and share them on social media casually, which brings some chance to grow up as a professional illustrator, especially my first international client, Airbnb.

Who influenced you as a person and as an illustrator?

When l get started with my illustration career, I’m always in Lisk Feng’s shadows. From her works, I realized there are so many possibilities of illustration, which I never saw. However, to become a professional illustrator I need to organize my visual language representing my unique personal tastes and aesthetics, so it’s hard for me to point out an illustrator who influenced me now. I use to discover something that fascinates me now, like music or movie, which is not just about illustration.

His illustrations convey a real optimism, as they have a positive outlook towards the future but with full awareness of the present

Do you remember your earliest drawing? What was it about?

It’s the Sailor Moon, a Japanese comic and animation character. I asked my father to buy me a picture book of her and copied one with Chinese painting.

Yulong Lli’s illustration artwork is well balanced and designed to make you think.

What illustration impressed you the most in your childhood? What are your best memories?

Chinese picture storybooks impressed me a lot when l was a child. It’s an old-fashioned way to tell traditional Chinese stories by images with fewer words. As well known, most of the children don’t like to read a book full of words, so that’s my best joyful experience of study.

What are your sources of inspiration? What are some of your favorite subjects to draw, and what is the creative process behind your artwork?

My inspiration always comes from my daily life, but l also collects a database of my favorite artworks just in case, like contemporary arts, photography, vintage posters, etc.

When I get a new assignment, I think about the key points behind the story first. After research and paper doodling, I will sketch and make color palette based on my mind’s direction. Lastly, I add details inside and finish everything.

What better focus your personality, in your creations? Does the color palette you use reflect the way you see the world?

I think that color palettes and constructions reflect my personality very well. Still, I also try different ways to hire what l love into my works as surprise, like my favorite but unaffordable furniture or fashion style. LOL!

My friends always joke with me about my color taste, saying they come from a person who falls in lovemaking him feels cheerful. I’m willing to hear that because that’s exactly what l want to deliver through my work.

What do you like most about your job, and what are the greatest satisfactions?

It’s a very simple, painting. I choose illustration because it’s a comfortable way for me to express myself, and images are very straight forward to build a bridge between me and spectators. Visual communication with them makes me feel satisfied as l know we find some common feelings from my works.

His illustration works also deal with themes of diversity and inclusion using vibrant, and joyful colors.

What is the biggest challenging when you have to start a new project?

The biggest challenging l have to face is a deadline, using the limited time to present a good idea with what I have, especially for editorial works as they always come and go in a hurry. Besides, I’m not sure whether the topic is familiar for me or not, but I’m enjoying it.

Yulong Lli’s design is fresh, sparkling, vital, and energetic and reflects his way of seeing the world.

Are there any of your illustrations related to a moment that marked a significant point in your life? Could you share with us the story behind it?

I was invited to create a cover illustration for a fictitious magazine named the Shanghairen last year, inspired by the New Yorker magazine. At that time, I exchanged to the UK, stood outside of my familiar environment, so I have an opportunity to describe my feelings of shanghai as a new resident after living for about seven years, focusing on the resident’s daily life.

Working on commercials projects allow him to communicate different ideas or emotions to a specific target, learn to solve different problems, and move over the limits of communication.

Since you are a Shanghai-based illustrator. Can you tell us how the city has changed in the last year due to the Pandemic situation? Does this period has affected your way of creating and work?

I went back to my hometown and stayed at home for about half a year, so when l came back to Shanghai, the situation has been under control. Therefore, what l saw is a typical metropolis city, but people is used to wearing a mask on the street.

During this time, I accept some commissioned works related to Coronavirus, including a public donation campaign to WHO. It’s good to do something to support and record as a creator.

Images courtesy of Yulong Lli

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