Boss Babe: Meet Lily Qian

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Art, no matter what the medium is, should completely transport you into the craft the artist has created. For some, art can feel baffling. For others, it conjures up a pit of emotions that seems to have been evoked by witchcraft; it’s truly a spell that can’t be unbroken. Just like photography, analogue art techniques are being illustrated through the eyes of the artist. It’s an unspoken language that only a few can understand, but plenty yearn to comprehend. And while some artists decide to stick to one medium and one subject to share their vision, today’s Boss Babes’ portfolio encompasses a wide range of mediums and techniques where you essentially get a sugar high from all the visual eye-candy.

Lily Qian is nothing short of amazing. Her artwork is pure and full of charisma — you want to grab a piece of pizza with her just by looking at her art. And, although, she once was a fashion designer, she realized her heart was meant to illustrate the world. For her, ever since she was little, she knew she needed to be in a creative space, and now, she is creating for fashion powerhouses like Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor as well as drawing lifestyle paintings that literally feel like they dance off the page. With everything considered, Lily’s work is a story you will never get sick of and that’s why we think you should meet her.

We got to shoot Lily at her Bushwick art studio where we talk about her craft, family and how she balances it all. Meet the awesomely-talented, Lily Qian.

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Photo via Vanessa Granda

Photo via Vanessa Granda


Falls Church, Virginia


Brooklyn, New York

Favorite SS16 show? 

Kempner NYC

Team cupcake or macaron? 


Favorite medium to work with? 


Photo via Vanessa Granda

Photo via Vanessa Granda

A designer you always love to illustrate: 

Acne Studios

Current song on repeat right now? 

School of Seven Bells – Half asleep

Must-have splurge for the winter? 

Marc by Marc Jacobs black leather knee-high boots

What was the last thing you did out of your comfort zone? 

Sailing & Skateboarding

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an illustrator?

I’m from an artist/designer family and drawing was my first love. I grew up drawing, painting, and sewing. I love fashion and worked as a fashion designer in NYC for many years before pursuing my true passion – illustration!

When it comes to illustrating fashion, what story are you trying to interpret with each piece?

The emotional aspect interests me the most. The essence of the collection, the type of personality it reveals about the person wearing the garment.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what do you think you would be doing?

If I wasn’t an illustrator, I would continue to work as a photographer and fashion designer. 

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Your client list is pretty insane! Is your approach different for each client you illustrate for?

Yes, the artwork must align with the company’s branding and creative campaign direction. For high-end fashion brands, it could be an abstract minimalistic approach with elements of surprise. For life-style driven concepts, it’s an opportunity to tell a story with more realistic details. Project budget and timeline can also dictate the artwork style and how complex the artwork will be.

Did you always gravitate towards the creative side, even when you were younger?

Oh yes! I always knew I would be working in the creative field. I wanted to be both an illustrator and fashion designer, and I’m happy to have been able to pursue both careers.

Who are some boss babes that inspire you and your work?

My friend and studio mate, Sharon Radisch is a total Boss Babe! I’m inspired by her beautiful still-life & interior photography. Her professional and creative approach to work and life also inspire me. 

What is the greatest way to have a balanced work/life?

Make time to care for yourself. Stay healthy and exercise. Have a hobby outside of work. Spend quality time with people you really care about.

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Photo via Vanessa Granda

Your mother was a commercial illustrator (and amongst other creative endeavors), is your illustration style similar to your moms in anyway? 

Our hands are quite different. Each artist’s hand is unique. We are influenced by our personal tastes, education, experiences, and the era we live in.

Any advice for future boss babes, especially who are trying to be an illustrator?

Draw everyday. The most important thing to becoming an illustrator is to do good work. Get the education you need to build a long lasting career – take workshops, master the foundations, have fun, experiment, and never give up! 


If you want to see more of Lily’s artwork, check out her website here and get a peek inside her everyday life through her Instagram here.

raven ishak



Photography via Vanessa Granda 

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