YG15 Showcase: Lisk Feng
By Brett McKenzie on Nov 09, 2017
Shining the spotlight on this year's Young Guns winners
Young Guns 15, arguably the most prestigious portfolio-based competition for creatives under 30, is going out with a bang! This year's winners were unveiled last week, and it's safe to say that this is one of the most eclectically talented classes in Young Guns history.
Next week is the traditional Young Guns ceremony and party, (you've scored your tickets, right?) and nearly all of this year's winners will be travelling from across the globe, across the country, or across the Williamsburg Bridge to attend. Ahead of the festivities, the One Club for Creativity is highlighting many of the winners you'll be able to meet.
Based In: Rego Park, NY
Originally from: Haining, China
What does winning this award mean to you?
Illustrators have a lot of competitions of their own to enter, but Young Guns is different. It is way more significant; it is a fantastic and tremendous recognition, because you are competing with super talented young people across all art forms.
After graduating from school, I was visiting my friend Daniel Zender (YG13) and I saw his Young Guns Cube. It was such a beautiful object, and I kept staring at it. When I saw that Cube on Daniel's shelf, it was not only an object, it also stood for hard-working, productive years, endless creative brainstorming and perspiration. At that very tiny moment, I started wishing I could earn a Cube of my own.
Young Guns is not my purpose for being, but it is motivation. I started with nothing, but slowly got my first New York Times job; I got into my first annual awards, which was something I could only dreamed about when I was a student; I got my first book cover with Penguin. And now, on my foirst attempt at entering, I am fortunate to be named one of this year's Young Guns.
"Illustrators have a lot of competitions of their own to enter, but Young Guns is different... it is a fantastic and tremendous recognition, because you are competing with super talent people across all art forms."
What sorts of challenges have you encountered to get where you are today?
One of my most significant challenges is trying to figure out the balance between work and personal language. Illustration has its functionality, and different clients come and go rapidly every day. When I started to repeat myself and draw like a machine, I felt a lack of joy. I doubted myself, I couldn’t focus, and my work didn’t have that original energy like they used to have. In the end, I started saying ‘no’ for the first time, I started to reject very commercial projects, and instead picked out the ones I liked.
Since Young Guns 15 allowed you to submit six projects for consideration, some self-curation was required. How did you decide what to enter?
It was a very difficult choice at first. I have done tons of big and small projects over the years, and some I don’t even remember doing myself. I decided to go with my heart, pick out the ones I liked the most, even if they were my most prominent or finished works. I know that other people might’ve selected different projects of mine to enter, but going with my heart was is the only way for me to approach this.
Can you name any past Young Guns winners who you look up to?
Josh Cochran (YG6), Daniel Zender (YG13), Julia Rothman (YG6) and many, many more.
What keeps you going, creatively speaking? What drives you and your work?
Being an Illustrator has been a dream of mine since I was in middle school. Now I am a professional illustrator, and I feel appreciated. I want to try different projects and formats with illustrations, from editorial illustrations to childrens’ books, and I want to work on all kinds of jobs. I think the most important key that keeps me going is my passion for illustrations. I just cannot stop talking about it!
Now that you’re a Young Guns winner, what’s next?
I am working on my first of several childrens’ books with different publishers, and some books are very challenging. I want to try long-term projects too, to slow down my pace. I also want to have a healthy sleep schedule again! This is very important!
Lisk and her fellow winners will be honored at the Young Guns 15 Ceremony + Party, taking place on Thursday, November 16 at Highline Stages in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.
Young Guns 15 is presented in proud partnership with Shutterstock, Levene/Leavitt and MTV.