Pulling from her traditional Chinese painting background, Lulu uses ink, gouache, and specific paint brushes to create modern landscapes depicting life in the city and beyond. Incorporating traditional linework, one of the most important elements in Chinese painting, with her fresh perspectives of city life, Lulu combines classic Asian and modern Western art techniques to create compositions that feel entirely new.
Can you tell us about your process?
I love depicting positivity through my art because I believe art can heal and encourage people to lead better lives. My feelings are very important to me in order to initiate the artistic process. I have to have a strong feeling about somewhere or something I’m going to paint. Before starting, I always do a lot of research on the subject until I am confident I know a lot about it and have enough references. Then I can start; first I create a small pencil sketch to design the composition, then comes a detailed pencil sketch on the real painting. Finally, I add colors and lines to create the finished piece. I won’t totally follow my original design during the process. Changes are always made because sometimes new ideas occur to me.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a professional artist?
I started to draw when I was little. Both my art instructor and my mom encouraged me a lot to continue my art journey. I went to college and graduate school as a traditional Chinese art major. After finishing graduate school in China, I came to the US for my second master's degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where I studied illustration. Upon completion of my second degree, I began my professional art journey.
When you are looking for inspiration, what resources do you turn to?
I go to museums, browse books and Instagram… or just go somewhere and forget about art, then suddenly inspiration will come to me.
Walk us through a typical day in your studio. What is your routine? Has it changed in the past year?
Replying to emails is the first thing I do in my day followed by a shower and breakfast. After that, I will prepare my previous day’s orders, then print and mail them out. Depending on the day, I teach online and in-person classes. Other than that, I will work on my art projects throughout the day, usually taking a break to cook a nice lunch and go outdoors to breathe the fresh air.
Finding the right rhythm to be productive in the studio can be a challenge, what advice do you have for staying productive and focused?
I think if you truly love something, you will focus on that. But being productive is not easy since time goes fast. It is important to make both monthly and daily plans. If you have a plan for the day, you will clearly know how to manage your time.
What advice do you have for combating creative block?
It is not a good idea to push yourself against something you don’t really want to face in the moment. I think the best way to combat creative block is to leave and do something else. For example, when I am working on a landscape painting that I feel is too difficult to continue, I will just put it away and maybe draw some fashion sketches first. After a white, the creative ability will come back all by itself.
As an artist, how do you measure success? Can you recall a specific event in your career that made you feel successful?
Success is a word that many people describe very differently. For me, success is the moment I am happy about my work, or if I feel pleasure about a project that I’ve finished for a client. One of the most “successful” moments in my career so far was when a client flew me to a city for a mural project. I tried my best but didn’t meet the deadline. My client told me that it was okay, and rescheduled my return flight because they appreciated my art so much and loved what I was doing. How do you see the art market changing? Where you do see yourself in this transition?
Social Media changes a lot of things. Artists can’t only rely on galleries or agencies, they have to go out on social media to face a giant virtual world. Everything is changing so fast, and what is next? NFT? It is a very abstract thing, but as an artist, we have to be sharp and learn everything new.
What advice do you have for artists who are beginning to build their careers? Have there been any habits or strategies that you have adopted that you feel have created more opportunities or visibility for your work?
For beginners, you have to be humble and learn things from experienced people. Everything that you can glean from others is valuable and can inform your practice. You have to know what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Do you consider yourself, and all artists, to be entrepreneurs? Why or why not?
Every artist you ask will probably have a different answer to this question but I do consider myself an entrepreneur. As artists, we don’t live in the old days anymore. We have to be a businessman, know about online stores, social media, collaborations, taxes…etc. There are so many things we have to deal with that have nothing to do with actually creating art, but we have to know and learn about all of them. In this way, we are not only artists but also entrepreneurs.
Failure is an inevitable part of success in any field. Do you have advice for overcoming setbacks?
What should I say? I think there is a universal answer: Never give up.
What sparked your interest in partnering with TurningArt?
TurningArt focuses on each individual artist instead of just pushing out tons of artwork. I love that because each artist is different and has their own unique story to tell. TurningArt appreciates that and lets artists tell the stories behind their art, which is the best way to understand and appreciate an artist’s style.
What does having your artwork in the workplace and other commercial or public spaces mean to you?
I love to see my artwork in public spaces because I want my artwork to influence people no matter what kind of emotions they have when viewing it. It would be great if my art makes people think or smile, or even if people just want to take a photo of it in order to remember it and share it with others. Art is a bridge to connect my feelings and anyone else out there, no matter who they are. I believe there are so many similarities between people that exist in the world and we need art to help foster these connections.