Kristen Liu-Wong’s illustrations and paintings aren’t for the faint of heart. Colored in a light wash of pastel pink, they feature bold (leaning on the grotesque) characters in cheeky compositions. Born and raised in San Francisco, Liu-Wong studied illustration at Pratt Institute and is currently based in Los Angeles.
With almost 200k fans on Instagram, her style of illustration has come to define her as an artist. According to Liu-Wong, this unique style is a result of a lot of trial and error, and after experimenting with different methods and approaches. “When I first applied to art school, I was doing pen and ink drawings of engines and I was wary of painting or even using color,” she recalled in an interview with Studio Cult. “In school, I was forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to try new things and see new work. Eventually, after a lot of experimenting, you find something that just feels right and you keep exploring it,” she says.
Her work is inspired by a mixture of cultures and references that include American folk art, Japanese wood block prints, Chinese pottery, Nickelodeon cartoons, and the Surrealist movement. “I know I listed a lot, but I draw on so many sources for inspiration that it was hard to narrow it down to even these generalizations,” she says.
Being raised in a Chinese American household, Liu-Wong grew up looking and studying Asian art. “The incredible graphic quality of Japanese woodblock prints (especially Shunga) are particularly inspirational to me and I love the beautiful intricacies of Chinese vases,” she says. “And while we’re talking about Asian art and artists, the photography of Nobuyoshi Araki is a big current influence.”
Take a look at some of her cheeky creations: