Whitehot Magazine

Illustrator Lidan Chen Talks About How She Makes Images

Lidan Chen, The Dream, 2019, digital illustration 

By WM Staff, March 2019

Lidan Chen produces imagery with a dream-like quality and clarity that makes her an in-demand illustrator. We asked Chen some questions about her design process and how she formulates her illustrations. 

Where are you from? 

I am from Beijing, China. I grew up in Beijing and went to the United States to study art. I finished master's degree in Illustration in Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently I live in Los Angeles. 

How do you start one of your illustrations?

Normally, I draw 3 to 5 thumbnails and let the clients pick the one they want. After that, I go on for tight rough/sketch and then present it to them. If they approve, I will start to color it. Working in this way saves me a lot of time during the creative stage of production. 

The Nightingale and the Rose, digital illustration

Do you often use computers to make your work?

I worked digitally for most of the times because it is very convenient. I can easily adjust the colors and compositions whenever I want. If I want the paper textured, I will scan the texture and overlap it. If I need a brush stroke, I will find brushes from the internet. Although working on paper or canvas is still an important way to create art, and it is less harmful to our eyes, I have to admit that computer plays an important role in my creative career.  

Lidan Chen, The Dragon, digital illustration

What are you interested in people experiencing when looking at your illustrations?

I am interested in how people interpret my illustrations. Everyone has different opinion from others when they look at a piece of work because every person is unique. When I show my works to my friends and families, I always get some new ideas from them. It is fun to know what people think about my works.

When Parents Have a Favorite Child, digital illustration

Do you have an illustration you made that's your favorite?

I like all of them equally, so I don’t have a favorite illustration. I can tell which one of my works are liked by most people, but I don’t think I like one more than others. Actually, I hope I can create a better piece of work each time.

What are you influences from art history?

There are a lot of artists who inspire me. I like Paul Cézanne’s works very much. I like the simplified shapes in his paintings, his compositions and bold colors. I was also influenced by Minimalism, I want my works to look simple and strong.

The Selfish Giant, digital illustration

Do you have any music or literature that inspires your work?

I like studio Ghibli soundtrack very much. Listening to their music makes me relax -  I get more ideas when listening to music.

Your paintings would be good in children's books or novels and also in magazines. Where are you planning to publish them?

I am planning to publish them in magazines and children’s books. Illustrating children’s books is a lot of fun. Now my illustrations are presented on my website and social media. I hope that I can create more illustrations and publish them in my art book one day.

What's next for you? 

For my next project, I am planning to illustrate some comics - I will probably work with my friend who was a scriptwriter. For me, there are no big differences between comics and illustrations. I love reading comics and I enjoy telling stories with images. I am excited about all of it. WM



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