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 in closer to a train station and shops. It’s a big transition from my usual quiet, leafy suburb. It’s so much more noisier, especially at night but I’ve somehow made it my little refuge for now!

In the past, I’ve lived with my family. I love them but I’ve made a move out to live with my partner, and I’ve learnt so much (how to adult) already!

My studio is currently in Sydney because it’s really the most convenient and comfortable place to be!

My desk/studio/office is oddly minimal but in a messy clean way surrounded by paper and textures. Right now, it looks like this: Note: New pictures provided for 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.

Lately in my personal work I’ve been making more handmade pieces such as limited edition prints, cards and packaging.

It’s really important to dedicate time to personal work because that’s where your very best work comes from. Here’s a few of my favourites!

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!

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!

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.

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 The City of Sydney to design The Rabbit Lantern for the Sydney Lunar Festival 2020. With the incredible support and help of City of Sydney and Gorilla Constructions it took one year to create, and it really allowed me to connect with my Chinese cultural roots and appreciate what it is to be an Australian Chinese artist living and working in Sydney.

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.

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!

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for The Lily, Washington Post. It’s a series of illustrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's Moon Landing. It was a lot of fun adding small signatures of colour into my normally greyscale colour palette, and now I have another signature starry night sky I can apply to my future projects!

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

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 watch people interact with it.

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.

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!).

I’m a strong believer in drawing the world we live in. It’s important to me to try to show diversity in my drawings and to work with clients who also feel the same.

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.