Wednesday, April 17, 2024

AdvertiseDonateSubmit
NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds

UCLA student shares Chinese American experience through zines, posters, graphics

The zine “Chop Suey,” a piece made by fourth-year design media arts student Liz Li, is held open to display its contents. In addition to zine-style pieces, the multimedia creations of Li include posters, sketches, prints and digital works. (Courtesy of Liz Li)

By Neha Krishnakumar

Oct. 18, 2022 9:07 p.m.

Liz Li is chopping up traditional art media.

The fourth-year design media arts student creates art through various media including zines, posters, graphics and mock-ups of imaginary candy brands. Li said she was always interested in art as a hobby as a child but only began to consider it as a potential career during high school. While her style has developed over the years, she said she is currently striving to use her art to better understand her cultural identity.

“(My artistic inspiration) has changed over time,” Li said. “Now, I think it focuses more on my identity as a Chinese American. … What I want to work towards is … going a little bit deeper and trying to grapple with the weirdness of being in America and (growing up) in a predominantly white area.”

Li said her art style is constantly evolving and is currently a culmination of all her past inspirations, such as her favorite movies, dreams and social movements. She said she used to draw influence from Instagram and Tumblr because the platforms had an increased prevalence of traditional and digital illustration. To develop her abilities, she said she would imitate pieces and put her own spin on them to test out new techniques. For her newer zines and prints, she said she draws primarily from personal experiences and emotions.

Black text and graphics in front of a red background compose the cover for "Chop Suey." Through the pieces, Li said they sought out to explore the representation of China in American culture while annotating these examinations with notations relating to her own experiences. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Li)
Black text and graphics in front of a red background comprise the cover for "Chop Suey." Through the pieces, Li said she sought to explore the representation of China in American culture while annotating these examinations with notations relating to her own experiences. (Courtesy of Liz Li)

[Related: UCLA student uses creativity, graphic design skills to create zines]

In “Chop Suey,” one of her most recent zines, Li said she incorporated concepts related to the representation of China in America. This includes the stereotypical typeface used in Chinese restaurants, the architecture of Chinatowns and the way China is portrayed in film. Li said she added her own touch through annotations based on her personal experiences growing up Chinese American in a predominantly white neighborhood.

Li’s friend and fourth-year design media arts student Anubha Gupta said Li’s use of a risograph printer has been integral to creating her various physical art pieces, including the aforementioned “Chop Suey,” colorful prints and posters, and illustrated zines. As Li’s skills with the printer have progressed, Gupta said Li has been including more visual effects in her more personal, creative work.

“She’s gotten really nifty with (the risograph printer),” Gupta said. “It’s cool to see how, as she gets better at using the printer, her work reflects that learning curve.”

Li said her graphic design work is more restrained than her more creative and personal pieces, such as the risograph-printed zines and posters. The finished design not only reflects her own experiences, Li said, but those of others, as she is often creating graphics for other organizations, websites and publications in addition to her more personally fulfilling projects. For this reason, she said she has to be mindful of the final product she is delivering so that it encompasses the vision of those involved.

Fourth-year architectural studies and art student Sofia Chang said Li’s pieces often examine queerness and aspects of cultural history, as well as being Chinese and having immigrant parents, which resonates with Chang. As Li’s roommate, Chang said she is able to see Li’s behind-the-scenes process of ideating, researching and sketching.

The zine is opened to yellow pages with black and red-orange text. Printed using a RISO printer, Li’s friend and fourth-year design media arts student Anubha Gupta said this tool has been instrumental in Li's more personal, physical pieces.  (Courtesy of Elizabeth Li)
The zine is opened to yellow pages with black and red-orange text. Li’s friend and fourth-year design media arts student Anubha Gupta said the risograph printer has been instrumental in Li's more personal, physical pieces. (Courtesy of Liz Li)

[Related: Student Sey Yang captures Asian American queer identity through camera lens]

When crafting pieces about more personal material, Li said she loves to discuss and reflect with her roommates and others about them, as it helps her avoid overthinking. For Li, getting another perspective allows her to understand how a potential viewer might perceive a piece, though her own experience is the central perspective like in “Chop Suey.”

“The riso(graph) printed book I did called ‘Chop Suey’ … is probably my proudest project,” Li said. “ It was a pivotal moment for me where I started designing with my immigrant experience in mind.”

Regarding the future, Li said she hopes to bring more of the experiences of other individuals into her work. Li said she recently began volunteering with Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, a local grassroots organization that emphasizes the need for equitable development in Chinatown. While it is not an artistic project, Li said it has helped her shift her view on the ideas she conveys through her art and her goals to create art that is reflective of others’ experiences in addition to her own. She said her volunteer work has allowed her to understand more about the community around her and better represent it with her creations.

“I want to bring in more community, especially considering other people’s voices and highlighting other people’s voices with my skills,” Li said. “It’s helping my values shift to be more about how to be an artist that serves the community.”

Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Neha Krishnakumar | Photographer
COMMENTS
Featured Classifieds
Apartments for Rent

APARTMENTS AVAILABLE: Studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, and 3 bedrooms available on Midvale, Roebling, Kelton and Glenrock. Please call or text 310-892-9690.

More classifieds »
Related Posts