Illustrator Spotlight: Lisk Feng

© Lisk Feng

June 12, 2020

We are excited to feature illustrator Lisk Feng, and her new board book, OUR WORLD: A FIRST BOOK OF GEOGRAPHY, by Sue Lowell Gallion (Phaedon Press, July 22, 2020). Enter to win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.
My name is Lisk Feng. I am originally from China and came to the USA in 2012. I started as a freelance editorial illustrator after I
finished my grad program study at Maryland Institute College of Art, and contributed to a lot of newspapers and magazines such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Scientific American, etc. I started to create my first children`s book since 2016. So I think I am still a newbie as a children`s book illustrator.

© Lisk Feng

Congrats on your new board book, OUR WORLD: A FIRST BOOK OF GEOGRAPHY. 
Tell us about it and how you approached/ researched the illustrations.

This book is very creative in terms of the format. It is my first
board book and reading through the manuscript, and I have had many thoughts towards the style. I want to create a stylish and vivid wild world for young audiences. I started sketching based on real locations and looked for the best color pallet to suit the area. After that, I put the exciting animals and characters in the environment. 

Lighting is always something I've wanted to experiment with, so I have played with different shades and lights based on different times of the day in the piece. I always have tons of reference images on my screen, but I intend to create it in my way. In my opinion, style is the most important part besides the accuracy, since it is for a very creative and such a cool publisher. I think the form of a book will choose the right parents and audiences.

You do editorial as well as children's illustration work. Do the
different kinds of work influence your children's illustration?
Great question. This question is also something I am thinking about
all the time. I am nowhere near a traditional children's book
illustrator, but since I have worked with Nobrow, Phaidon, Abram, and possibly with Enchanted Lion, I see a pattern. The publishers who found me and are willing to work with me are all my favorites, and their artistic style brings me joy as a grown-up and illustrator. I showcase a lot of books from these publishers. Their unusual presentation and passion for design of the book, the paper, the texture, the style, fit well with my illustration. I always want to do books for both kids and artistic grown-ups. My digital drawing has a vintage print look.  The publishers I liked put a lot of effort into making the paper right. I pretty much did not change a lot from my editorial works. I believe that my illustrations can attract the right clients.

© Lisk Feng

Was your road to publication in children's books long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I slowly turned to advertising for quite a bit after years of doing
editorial illustrations, did loads of works for Apple, Elle, Estee
Lauder, Airbnb, and so on. The workload burned me out. I always had a passion for reading and collecting artistic children's books and wanted to create slower and bigger projects. I see drawing books as an escape from the short turn around lifestyle. 

© Lisk Feng

Children's books are like candy to me. My illustrations are always narrative, and at the same time, they have a graphic design look. I did several non-fiction children's books such as Everest, and it has been a long journey. In between the short deadlines, children's books projects are always my favorite to do.

What projects are you working on now?
I just finished a new book not so long ago with Nobrow Flying Eye
Books. I am very excited. I am talking to another publisher about a
brand new book at this moment. Finally, it is not a non-fiction book!

Looking forward!

© Lisk Feng

What advice would you give to other illustrators or designers who want to get into children's illustration?
Being an illustrator is like a long term relationship with yourself,
you have to know your interests first, and get to know yourself little
by little, what is your favorite color, what objects you like to draw
all the time. Some content of the children`s books are essential for
educating kids, but in my opinion, the vibe of the whole book is also necessary, the design of the book, paper, the feel when you have the book in their hand. Sometimes I want to treat kids like an adult, tell them something that they will understand later.

© Lisk Feng

What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I played clarinet in a marching band for six years, and also did
violin for ten years when I was little. I was also the lead singer of
our school choir. I was a musical kid for a while~ now I am playing
guitar and write songs secretly.
Where can people find you online?
instagram: liskfeng

Lisk Feng is an award-winning illustrator who is initially from China, and now a New York-based freelance illustrator. She graduated with an MFA Illustration Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014, with a lot of publications and advertising projects seen by the world, such as The New Yorker, Apple, Penguin, Airbnb, The New York Times, Chanel, etc. Meanwhile, her illustrations received awards and recognitions such as Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators,  Communication Arts Excellence Award, 3X3 Silver Medal, American Illustration winner, etc. She also published several children`s books with Flying Eye Books, Abrams and Kids Can Press. She was awarded one of the Art Directors Club 15 Young Gun Artists among all artists from all fields worldwide in 2017. She is also selected on the list of Forbes 30 under 30 Art and Style in 2019 and won Bologna Ragazzi Award with the book Everest in 2019. 

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  1. Wow, this looks like an exciting book for kids of all ages with such a unique format--I can't wait to read/see it...congrats!

  2. Christine Van ZandtJune 12, 2020 at 10:30 PM

    I see a lot of book but this one is so eye-catching. The unique shape makes me want to read it and I'm sure it'll attract kids as well.

    Lisk Feng's art is beautiful! And I agree that children's books can be like candy--the melding of text and illustrations make them so very special.

  3. What an insanely beautiful and creative book! The illustrations are amazing!

  4. Your artwork is gorgeous. This book is unlike any I've seen and I can't wait to read it. Congratulations!

  5. Beautiful!! My students would love this book!

  6. Looks like a fun book. Thanks for the chance.

  7. Beautiful work! I love that the book looks like a globe.

  8. I am a retired high school geography teacher. I would be delighted to share this lovely book with my twin granddaughters!

  9. This is stunning! I love the unique & creative shape of the book.

  10. This is such a neat looking book! My girls would love it!


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