As ½ of Hi Bye Studio, illustrator Lily Kong talks about her monthly zine, her love for creative events and her “Marshmallow Baby” creations! Having graduated from Camberwell College of Arts, she now lives in London and creates work that aims to bring a smile to the viewer’s face.
Let’s dive straight in! Can you describe your illustrative style in three words?!
Making happy things is the goal of my work. So I would say my Illustration style is happy, random and atmospheric.
We notice that your work is so unique! We absolutely love your people-like characters. How did your style evolve into what it is now? And what are your main influences?
Oh thank you! I call these yellow little guys the “Marshmallow babies” - fluffy and always happy. I am a very happy person. I talk about so many things so happily that my friends sometimes get annoyed.
I am always inspired by activities that interact with people, such as moving human bodies, which catch my attention all the time. The movement and the curves in their arms form different shapes and lines, which are all very fascinating. I don't really care about their face or their identity so I add no details other than identical smiley faces. Marshmallow babies allow me to interact with body shapes and figures.
I observe people in a personal way by drawing them, so I stare at my friends for a bit and sometimes exaggerate their muscles and plumpness. I believe seeing and drawing things rounder make viewers happier.
Marshmallow babies sound almost edible! What is one of your favourite materials to work with? It looks like you use all types of media! And what is a material you are afraid of?!
Grease pencils are my new favourite! It is so nice I sometimes call it the magic pencil because it is so thick and dark and it makes such great intense lines on the surface. I have been drawing a lot recently and I found some surprisingly nice combinations by using this grease pencil with oil pastels, crayons and paint. The mixture of media gives the image rich textures. It just adds more depth in the drawing, which is great!
The medium I feel less uncomfortable with is watercolour. I always bring my watercolour kit with me when I go life drawing, but I am not very confident in creating beautiful, delicate gradients of colours. I prefer a good solid block of saturated colours but not really the transparency that watercolour has. I am still learning, as always.
Describe to us your process. Is it as simple as putting pen to paper or does a piece take more planning, such as your risoprints?
It depends! Projects take a lot more time to plan and make. But I do make things very quickly. It could take me a few minutes, or up to several hours to make a drawing. Recently, I am keen on making a quick drawing inspired by daily life everyday. In this project, I react very quickly on things that I am interested in. These drawings take 5-10 minutes to finish. They are usually a quick spontaneous reaction to what I see.
What is your favourite medium to see your work in? Whether it is ceramics or stickers!
I enjoy working with all of the mediums and the principal within them all is to create an atmosphere and to interact with audiences in various ways. Therefore, I like putting my ideas and working together to create events, because I think is the most direct medium to connect with others. In my graduate show, I created a workshop “The Tasteful Curator” that realised how copying is applied in the world of art and design. The audiences were encouraged to make collages of a still life, from photocopies of other people’s work. By appropriating other people’s work to make new works, the idea was delivered to the audience during the making. That’s why I believe events are a great medium to work with.
To push this practice forward, my friend Holly St Clair and I formed Hi Bye Studio. We make publications and organise workshops and events that stimulate conversations.
Looking towards to the future, what is your next big step as a creative? Do you have anything exciting in the pipe line?!
I am working on a new monthly project. This month is about going home, as I am back in my hometown for Christmas, so I am making new drawings of my experiences, such as walking through skyscrapers and riding speedy minibuses. I am currently looking for a job. (hoping to pay my rent, yes please help!) At the same time, I am making a book full of drawings from everyday life, called “A recording of living things”.
I will also continue to make new work for Hi Bye Studio as well as my own practice. We are making a monthly zine called POST, which features a bunch of emerging creative talents and their work. We hope to get more creatives to take part!
We loved our issue of POST when it arrived! As a final remark, what are some words you like to live by?
"Believe it or not, I cans actually draw.” - Jean-Michel Basquiat
(The exhibition is so great! - we should all go see it.)
If you’re a creative with something to share, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Check out our ‘contact’ page for more information!