Illustrator Eve Liu “doesn’t do shadows’’, and we love her for it

The New York-based illustrator declared her shadow-free practice back in grad school. Stylistically bold, we find out more about this digital artist and her love of flat graphics below.

3 February 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

The illustrator Eve Liu is aware that her work can be considered “traditionally girly”; pastel pinks, greens and poised dainty silhouettes often take centre stage in her wonderfully flat digital drawings. A label like that can have its downfalls, an illustrator can become pigeon holed or misunderstood with such a term that's riddled with negative connotations. But for Eve, she sees it as an opportunity to question why some subject matters are easily dismissed or deemed of lower significance. “I don’t think there’s a need to explain or justify my feminine expressions," she tells It’s Nice That on her apologetically bold style. "They are something that happens naturally.”

Born and raised in the small Chinese city of Changsha, known for its television industry and spicy food, Eve now resides in New York where she illustrates predominantly for publications and branding agencies. She’s always felt moved when she comes across an emotive artwork; an illustration could be promoting a product or a conceptual piece of fine art and, no matter the purpose of an image, Eve can find the beauty in any illustration.

When it comes to the style of her practice, like many creatives today, she is influenced by the past. Namely Japanese pop culture from the 70s and 80s; distinctive for its pared back use of bold colour and flat lines devoid of shadows. Eve wasn’t aware of her similar use of flat graphics and stylised figures until her peers at university pointed it out to her. She remembers one memorable moment while studying at Maryland Institute College of Art as a grad student. “I once grandly stated: ‘I don’t do shadows’.” After she said this, Eve and her classmates had a good laugh, “to the extend that some said they were going to print a t-shirt with my quote.” And to this day, the illustrator is living true to her statement. She still does not do shadows, but that’s one of the reasons we, at It’s Nice That, came to love the work.


Eve Liu (Copyright © Eve Liu, 2020)

With clients including Rimowa, New York Times Kids and Morefate Press (just to name a few) Eve’s work harks back to classic lifestyle illustrations. She plays with imaginative colour combinations and the balance between reality and fantasy to consistently tell a story through the image, paying particular attention to perspective and the sense of movement in the composition. Using a cintiq 13hd as her trusty artistic tool, Eve revels in the flexibility that digital illustration provides: “It provides me with the freedom to draw at any time and situation,” she adds on the matter. Drawing inspiration from the texture of woodblock printing, she continuously researches how she can apply similar effects in the digital, hoping to one day, achieve its texture as close as possible.

On a separate note, the emotional expression of Eve’s work is closely linked to deep feelings of experimentation. While she notes how many creatives find a way to confront painful personal experiences through an outpouring of visual arts, for this illustrator, the motivation to make work is rooted in a need to play creatively. Her characters are seeped in feelings of pensiveness, insecurity or uncertainty, but these are often imagined scenarios as opposed to autobiographical. “Ultimately, what I have experienced is ‘my experience’,” she says, “I don’t need my creative work to be solely based on them.”

As for the future, Eve is looking forward to more artworks, more clients and more play. She wants to push her prowess for illustrative narrative to the extreme, and hopes to work on more challenging projects in order to explore this. Whether that’s in the form of a graphic novel or a fashion campaign, this illustrator is excited for whatever the future awaits. There is also hope of collaborating with writers to embark on cross-disciplinary collaborations. Until next time, that’s all from Eve for now.

GalleryEve Liu (Copyright © Eve Liu, 2020)

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Eve Liu (Copyright © Eve Liu, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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