Sketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Kristen M. Liu

by Maxwell Tielman

As somebody who studied Art History in undergrad, I know that art can function as a tool for heightened aesthetic expression, communicating unreal beauty and providing transcendent experiences into realms that words cannot express… Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Still, despite my love for art that seeks to explore beauty plain and simple, I’ve got a major soft spot for works of a more irreverent nature—art that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I recently stumbled upon the work of illustrator and painter Kristen M. Liu, a young woman whose art is equal parts smart, observant, and full of delicious (and occasionally NSFW) humor. Her paintings display a penchant for the cruder side of things, both stylistically and in terms of subject matter: they brim with saturated color, studied imperfection, and imagery that is at once quotidian and grotesque. With a style that is as reminiscent of medieval miniatures as it is comic books, Kristen’s art displays an almost childlike fascination with the unusual, the magical, and the perverse. Her sketches seem like explorations—scrapbook-like collections of witticisms, colors, and scenes from an artist’s daily life. Check out more of Kristen’s fabulous sketches and some of her own thoughts about her work after the jump! Just a warning for those with sensitivities to profanity, nudity, etc: some of these images may be considered Not-Safe-For-Work. —Max

Above image: Some of Kristen’s illustrations and paintings. Check out more of her work here.

Why do you use a sketch book?

I typically use it to do really scrappy thumbnails of pieces I have ideas for so that I don’t forget them, but I also use it when I have something I want to draw or experiment with that would be too messy for a final piece. I also use it when I’m pissed off and I need to write mean things in pretty colors. Haha.

What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?

I either use pens and sumi ink or if I’m at my desk I use Acryla gouaches. I like using microns and Faber Castell pens for line work but I also love gold gel pens. My favorite markers are Copics and Tombos for large areas of color. AND OF COURSE SHARPIES!

Aside from preliminary sketches for larger projects, are there any things that you like to sketch just for fun? What are some things that you most frequently fill your sketch books with?

I really like to sketch anything that comes to mind—weird people, weird animals, weird plants. I like trying out patterns that come to mind and since this is one of the few places that I draw. Since I usually paint, I really like to go crazy with line work. Lots of my drawings that I use for my silkscreens are things scanned in from sketchbooks. I never really kept a sketchbook too much until I realized that I could mess up in it and nobody would see! Except for now, because of this.

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