An interview with Xiaojie Liu for AAPI Heritage Month

As May is Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month we thought we’d ask Illo Artist Xiaojie Liu some specific questions regarding some past/ present commissions; including her previous partnership with marketing agency Hearts & Science to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month;  Xiaojie created a beautiful and vibrant piece that was inspired by the heavy, woven bedcovers that Tuija women are known for. 

Also soon to be released this fall 2024.. is the wonderful picture book "Message in the Mooncake" by debut author Sapphire Chow (1954-2023), Xiaojie on illustrations, and published by Barefoot Books.

Find out more on this months celebration here.

Do enjoy our Q&A…

We love the illustration you did last AAPI Heritage Month for marketing agency Hearts and Science, as well as your illustrations for Beaming Books' upcoming title Message in a Mooncake. Could you tell us more about what each project was like to illustrate?

These two projects are very different. One is only one picture and the other is a whole book with more than twenty pages. The illustration for Hearts & Science is a silk scarf pattern design, which needs to be beautiful and the colours are well matched. To draw children's books, you need to understand the story structure itself, and then plan the illustrations for each page according to the direction of the story.

You told us earlier (read more here) that your illustration for Hearts and Science was inspired by your Tujia background. Does your heritage also inspire other works of yours? 

Yes, Many of my artwork are inspired by Tujia culture. For example, Border Town is one series of my work.This series was created after I read Border Town written by Shen Congwen, a famous Chinese writer. I want to record the life of the Tujia people and introduce and promote our own culture. This work had been selected into the Cheltenham Illustration Awards.

What did you find most rewarding about illustrating each project, and what did you find the most challenging about each? 

I think the most valuable thing is that I get to know the industry better and better at work, and my own work gets better and better. The most challenging thing is that I need to deal with different people in charge of different projects.

What advice would you give an up-and-coming illustrator, especially another Asian American or Pacific Islander illustrator, who would like to follow in your footsteps?

No matter where you are, which country or region you start your career in, please be sure to make your work better and better. This is the foundation for all careers.

If you’d like more info, please contact: [email protected]

At illo agency, we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.  

Here's a promotional video for the Hearts and Science collaboration..