With distorted perspectives and an electric palette, Lulu Lin draws faces like you’ve never seen before
The Taipei-based illustrator shares how their experimental illustrations are a way to process emotions and uncover productive methods of communication.
- Olivia Hingley
- 8 March 2023
To say the illustrator Lulu Lin has been on a creative journey would be something of an understatement. When we first met Lulu back in 2018, their work was colourful and figurative depicting “round, tumbling female figures” that had an air of the French master Matisse about them. Then, in 2019, Lulu ditched both the figures and the colour, instead opting for experimental black and white renditions of faces in a series of strange, introspective expressions. Now, Lulu’s work is truly at its best. Returning to their use of bold colour, adopting a bright, electric palette and seriously dialling up the experimentation, they’ve created a whole body of work dedicated to distorted, stretched and warped faces that we (and the Instagram community) are utterly obsessed with… and we can’t quite explain why.
Discussing this new creative approach, Lulu explains that it all arose fairly “intuitively”. Rather than focusing on creating a new style or actively changing their work, Lulu’s creativity is instead incentivised by three poles: “self-analysis, self-discovery and self-awareness.” This has resulted in Lulu’s desire to become more in tune with comprehending emotional experiences, which can then, in turn, aid effective communication.
Communication sits at the core of Lulu’s work as they explain how they “yearn for deep and genuine communications” and that “drawing faces is one of the means for me to conduct intrapersonal communication”. With faces being one of the core signifiers of emotion, and – alongside dialogue – exists as one of the foremost means of human communication, it’s no surprise such a focus has arisen for the illustrator. What’s most impressive about Lulu’s illustrations, though, is how they use stylistic techniques to heighten or accentuate such emotion, namely their use of distortion. One face which is elongated on one side gives the impression of confusion, while the curved, almost recoiling effect on a group of faces creates a sense of disgust.
Due to their expressive nature, Lulu’s work lends itself well to editorial commissions, which is something the illustrator particularly enjoys, especially when “the article speaks to me” they say. Recently, Lulu completed a commission for Zetland Magazine for a piece focusing on “why we cry, how we feel when we cry and the effect crying has on us”. In the final illustration, a face is shown looking to the sky, a single tear leaking from its visible eye. For some reason, the upward facing perception the viewer observes the image from – the elongated, stretch appearance of the head, all teamed with the metallic, electric blue palette – creates an intense feeling of melancholy, attending directly and powerfully to the brief at hand.
Now, Lulu is looking to put much of what their work explores into practice. Having no big plans or commitments, Lulu is instead on picking up enjoyable projects like ceramics, while “learning to live in the moment” and be “fully present and aware of the emotions and thoughts that I have right now”. We can’t wait to see what such self-awareness leads to next.
Lulu Lin: for Sunset Rollercoaster (Copyright © Lulu Lin, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.