“Haven’t you dreamed of adventure? It was a quote from Disney’s “Jungle Cruise”; a quote that led a 23-year-old freelance illustrator from Cebuana to embark on creating art for Disney, the American musical “Hamilton” and Warner Brothers’ limited-edition Echosmith shirt.
Amber Liu, a Filipina-Chinese illustrator and marketing and digital designer in New York, has been “drawing your favorite things” as seen on her Instagram bio since she was 13.
Her @artbyamberliu Instagram account is filled with her charming drawings, graphic videos and stylized typography with inspirational quotes, daily reminders and song lyrics. His masterpieces have since captured the eyes and hearts of Instagrammers (or Instagram users) around the world and garnered him over 19,700 followers. Eventually, she designed the limited edition Warner Brothers “Bright” Echosmith shirt, was noticed by the official “Hamilton” team, who interviewed her and invited her to create a digital sticker pack available on its mobile app, and was chosen as “Selected Creator” for Disney’s “Jungle Cruise.”
Amber shares with SunStar Lifestyle her journey, inspirations, goals and tips for budding artists.
What are your inspirations when you make art?
“Art is wonderful in that inspiration can strike at any time and can be found anywhere. Sometimes a random thought strikes me and I suddenly feel the urge to bring an idea to life, and I don’t can describe this all-too-familiar feeling as a surge of inspiration and excitement.
But sometimes inspiration has to be actively sought, but fortunately we are exposed to so many sources in our daily lives. I actually have a shopping list on my phone that I’m constantly updating, and if I see something that I think can inspire a piece, I’ll write it down no matter what I do. I’ll write down random quotes, lyrics, themes and thoughts I have and save photos I find online, sometimes even doing a quick sketch of the idea. There are times when I think back to these ideas and have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote them down, but most of the time it serves as an ever-changing mood board and it’s great creative exercise! »
How would you describe your style?
“My style is simple yet detail oriented and intentional. Everything is hand drawn and most often involves designed words as well as other illustrative elements. My work usually revolves around an obvious or subtle theme and this theme translates into the details of the artwork.These details are often easter eggs to find that contribute to the theme, but in general it is still easy to understand the central message.
In a more thematic sense, my art often involves what I observe and consume, especially other art forms. So if I’m listening to a new song, reading a new book, or watching a new show, more often than not I’ll create work inspired by that. Beyond that, if I’m strongly committed to a social cause, I tend to do work advocating for it.
What drew you to art?
“My mother is incredibly artistic and my parents always gave me the opportunity to access this creative side, even when I was not particularly good at it. As I also grew up reading and listening to a lot of music , it felt like a natural progression to take all of this media I was consuming and translate it into visual art.
Another thing that continually draws me to art is seeing how it affects and helps those who consume it, much like how all kinds of art have influenced me and my life. It’s refreshing and fulfilling to have the chance to help inspire others eventually.
When I feel stuck or uninspired, my family, friends and peers have always been there to remind me how much I love to create and why I do it. Time and time again, their support and comfort have been the invisible string that led me back to my craft.
How did Disney and ‘Hamilton’ discover you?
“When the ‘Hamilton’ performance came out on Disney+, I wanted to create an artwork to commemorate it. Before that, I hadn’t drawn a lot of artwork inspired by ‘Hamilton’, but I I had been a big fan of the musical for years, so I decided to take the plunge and create an illustrated collage of all the songs.The artwork got some traction from Broadway World and various “Hamilton” actors, until finally the “Hamilton” team reposted the work, which was incredibly exciting. It was a complete surprise to see them reach out and ask to interview me and turn the work into a pack of stickers, and it’s always surreal whenever I work for them or when they share my art.
As for working with Disney, I had seen a call for submissions for work inspired by their upcoming movie, “Jungle Cruise.” After watching the trailers and learning more about the film, I was immediately inspired by the visuals and themes in it and felt an urgency to participate. Fortunately, I was chosen as the selected creator!
These two experiences have changed my life and my artistic journey. Both works involved taking a central theme from the story and translating it into a single piece, while being mindful of every artistic choice and detail included, to ensure it relates to the theme.
Discovering the joy in this process has allowed me to continue creating similar works of art, from starting a series where I illustrate all the songs from different music albums, to commissioning to create personalized gifts for birthdays and anniversaries.
(Editor’s note: In 2015, Warner Brothers chose Amber’s design for their official limited-edition Echosmith “Bright” t-shirt.)
As an artist, what are your goals?
“My portfolio and range spans a wide spectrum and I create anything from posters and book covers to graphic brochures and videos, and that means the artistic goals I have change with every project I take on.
However, my overall goal as an artist is to create things that make people feel, from inspiration to nostalgia to joy, and to cultivate empathy and connection. I try to make my illustrations as accessible and inclusive as possible, and try to highlight universal experiences and emotions.
I’m quite a sentimental person myself and I’m grateful for the artwork in my life that has helped me preserve what I feel and think. From stickers all over my laptop that reference my favorite things to my phone wallpaper that has quotes I relate to, these artworks bring me comfort and joy, and I want to create work that brings that same comfort and familiarity to those who encounter my art.”
What advice can you give to budding artists?
“I’m by no means an expert or don’t know what the ‘right’ path is because I’m still a beginner so I still have a lot to learn and can only speak to what has helped me so far. I think it’s important to keep creating and creating work that you love. I’ve also found that it’s important to have the ability to not lose sight of that creative path. I I once heard a quote that said that the first talent of an artist is to have the desire to create. Although anyone can create a beautiful work of art, not everyone will feel the need for it .
I think it’s natural for an artist to go through periods where that desire to make art wanes, and so knowing what your personal card is is key to rediscovering the creative spirit. Although it’s different for every artist, two things that have helped me are having regular exposure to art and media (like this list of creative ideas) and surrounding yourself with people who believe in you. . I know it’s not always easy to overcome the stigma that art isn’t a “serious” path, but there are people who will support your path.
I’m grateful for the art around me and for the people who made sure I didn’t lose sight of who I am and what I love to do. All in all, I always like to say that once you find something that you can see being part of your life forever, you don’t just let it go.