Nancy Liang: Old Spaces, William Street #2

Work / Illustration

Nancy Liang’s dreamlike visions of fictional cities

A sense of somnambulance pervades Sydney-based illustrator Nancy Liang’s dreamlike urban landscapes and sleepy scenes of suburbia. Delicately hand-drawn and paper-cut, the illustrations are gifs brought to life with nuanced loops of animation.

The stillness of her urban scenes is subtly interrupted by the faint flicker of chimney smoke dancing in the breeze, neon lights throbbing in the distance and vehicles traversing the arteries of the cityscape. Nancy says: “I love the iconic neon advertising signs of King’s Cross in the 1960s (they’ve all been removed now). Having seen pictures of them in archives, I made a gif of them instead!”

Nancy tends to leave these small effervescent details to the background and periphery, foregrounding the image in quiet. “The scenes I depict are a collection of forgotten tales from urban landscapes and suburbia. I like to draw out the whimsy and unthought narratives in these spaces that are otherwise considered as the mundane everyday,” she explains.

In her illustrations, human life is sparsely seen, small and usually in silhouette. Long cast shadows engulf the landscapes. “I love the night. There is something very beautiful about how quiet it is and I wonder about all the strange yet fascinating things that may transpire. I’ve always enjoyed how it felt, so much that it moved to me to make gifs to allow others to live the moment with me,” she says. The images evoke the liminality of twilight, midnight and predawn delirium.

Nancy runs a blog, Over the Moon, showcasing her more personal and experimental gif work, while her professional work can be glimpsed in a variety of locations, such as The Lifted Brow, The Illustrated Mixtape, Airbnb, and Realestate.com.au, as part of the company’s Australia Lives Here rebrand initiative.

Last week, Nancy was selected as the new talent in editorial winner for the World Illustration Awards for her series of four atmospheric illustrations detailing the story of 83-year-old Hiroshima survivor, Junko Morimoto. These are currently being shown at the World Illustration Awards exhibition at Somerset House in London, 1 – 29 August, before the exhibition goes on tour around the UK.


Nancy Liang: Sydney Terraces


Nancy Liang: Old Spaces, The Rocks


Nancy Liang: Over the Moon #15


Nancy Liang: Over the Moon #5


Nancy Liang: Over the Moon #17


Nancy Liang: Old Spaces, William Street #1


Nancy Liang: Midnight Games #1


Nancy Liang: Midnight Games #2


Nancy Liang: Starry Night


Nancy Liang: Finder’s Station for The Biennale of Illustration & Graphic Art