Nancy

Liang

My name is Nancy Liang. I am an illustrator first and foremost, but I am also an artist, pseudo animator, and sometimes creative coder … because being creative is way more interesting when you experiment and play across different fields!

I make paper-crafted collages traditionally and digitally, and create dreamlike images and animations of urban landscapes and sleepy scenes of Australian suburbia.

I think of myself as an artist who was put on this planet to push the boundaries in some way in the creative field and contribute something interesting! My work is all about revealing the hidden wonders of our everyday suburbs, but also delves into histories and stories, especially of a past Australia.

What interests me most about illustration is how it can go beyond a static image and be merged with new technologies such as interactive media to create new stories.

I grew up in the hills in Western Sydney, but I now live much closer to a train station and shops. It’s a big transition from my usual quiet, leafy suburb. Now I have a pub outside my apartment and I get to watch people stumble about during nights on the weekends. My ideal place is a small little place in Hobart, Tasmania, near lots of local produce, markets and self-made boutique stores! I’m a strong supporter of preserving local history. It’s important to me that my work is able to capture moments and stories around Sydney before it’s demolished and made way for the new slew of commercial and apartment complexes.

In the past, I’ve lived in three different homes with my parents. I love my family, but I also need to experience independence so recently, I’ve made the move and now live by myself. There is a lot to think, do and buy—my place is strangely empty—but I will make it feel like home soon!

I spend a lot of time at my desk, because there are way too many things and ideas to make. Sometimes it feels like one lifetime isn’t enough!

My desk is always messy-clean and surrounded by paper and textures. It’s still a new studio as I’m moving in, and my dad and I handmade all the furniture. I’ll most likely revamp everything in a moment's time, but right now, it looks like this:

I studied design at UNSW Art and Design (formerly known as College of Fine Arts, or COFA). It was a very broad degree and allowed me to explore different avenues of design such as graphics, jewellery, textiles and sustainability.

Although I originally studied design, a lot of who I am now in illustration is self-made. I drifted through my studies and only buckled down and worked hard in illustration near the very end of my degree. I tried a huge variety of styles (and was absolutely horrible with colour to begin with) before finding a path I was happy with after a year or two. I’m not sure why, but funnily enough, my practice has always involved some sort of collage work whether it be traditional, digital or both!

One of the most formative experiences of my career was seeing Tabaimo’s animated work at the Museum of Contempoary Art, Sydney. Her use of motion woven intricately in a gallery space inspired me to push my practice into animation.

I’m most known for my whimsical starry night GIFs and delicate and intricately animated urban landscapes.

The key to success as a creative is not natural born talent, but working very hard and putting in effort to craft personal and commercial work.

It’s really important to dedicate time to personal work because that’s where your very best work comes from. Lately in my personal work I’ve been making more handmade pieces such as limited edition prints, cards and packaging.

I’m really excited to experiment more with new media art because it’s so interesting to see what kind of new discourse it can create in my practice.

Here are some pages from my sketchbook. I love working with paper and doing tiny intricate drawings. With my sketchbook I am as hands-on as possible!

Most of my work starts with sketches in my sketchbook. Then I start making the final illustration that involves digital processes such as my scanner and Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. Then I start scanning everything I’ve made by hand into my Macbook and start collaging using layers and groups in Photoshop. I often get asked if my work is completely handmade. The answer is yes and no. My work is a blend of both traditional and digital techniques and they’re both equally and important and go hand in hand to make everything work. Here are some bits and pieces of hand drawn and hand made elements you can find across my work! I keep everything in a texture archive to maybe use again one day.

When creating my work, I always work by hand first. I am most comfortable with traditional techniques which allows me to achieve a charming and handmade effect in my work. Here are some textures in my texture box—I make and collect anything and anything when it comes to paper!

People are often surprised to learn that I predominantly animate frame by frame (similar to stop motion effect) in Photoshop and with After Effects. This is a way which works for me, and allows me to manipulate the hundreds of detailed layers I have which often can be time consuming.

The best thing about working on commercial projects is the creative people I get to meet and collaborate with.

The three things currently inspiring me the most are my constant flow of creative (often random) ideas, emerging technologies, and how I can integrate everything into my practice. Here’s a recent rendering I created for The Lunar Festival 2020 with City of Sydney. I love that it will become a real three-to-five metre glowing installation at Circular Quay (hopefully by the Opera house but definitely by the Harbour Bridge) early next year!

Not long ago I worked with Arts Centre Melbourne to create an illustration and series of icons for their event 'Seven Songs to Leave Behind', a one-off concert at Hamer Hall. It featured acclaimed Australian singer-songwriters CW Stoneking, Sarah Blasko and Ali Barter. It’s really cool how that work has been attracting a lot of clients from the music scene!

One of my favourite projects recently was collaborating with The Lab at the Powerhouse Museum to create artwork for their game Logic Machine. The response from the public and students was entertaining. It was amazing to see the artwork in the game come to life as I watched people interact with it.

One of my all-time favourite projects was created was for Junko’s Story: Surviving Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb with the interactive team at SBS. I was blown away with this opportunity as it was my very first client and job and my art directors Kylie and Matt taught me everything (including how to write an invoice). To this day we are still good friends!

I really loved my first job with the Jacky Winter family making a longer animation. It was called The Nightlight Project and was created with help from VML, for AirBnB and Ronald McDonald Charities. I’ll always remember how exhilarating it was to finish off a long animated piece in a very tight deadline. I had no idea it was possible!

Airbnb & RMHC - The Nightlight Project

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for Hermés. It’s a special animated greetings card for Eid. I’m proud of this because I pushed myself to animate out of my comfort zone and it turned out quite well!

One of the most technically challenging jobs I’ve ever done was to create a large scale animation for Wynscreen, a screen over 20 metres wide at Wynyard Station for Transport for New South Wales. I was able to collaborate with some very supportive technicians—the very ones who work on the projections for the Sydney Opera House.

Professional recognition means a lot to me. Some awards currently lining my trophy room include Communication Arts 57th Illustration Annual, Society of Illustrators 59 Gold Medal and Outstanding Performance for the GIFs2018 Award of GIF creators (GIFMAGAZINE X ADOBE). I also aim to get a cube from the ADC Young Guns this or next year (fingers crossed!).

In recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to speak at some amazing events and conferences, such as Shape, Sydney Design Festival, Brand of Sisters, Speed Meet a Designer and MAASive Lates.

If you want to find out even more about me, here are some recent articles about my practice in You Wanted a List and Creative Bloq.

That’s me! If you want more, check out my full folio and Instagram. Got a brief? Contact me and the good folks at Jacky Winter.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.