Whimsical themes, everyday scenes: the art of Loe Lee

Loe Lee is a Chinese-American illustrator, designer, and muralist whose whimsical images tell short stories with a bit of splash of magic.

Having worked with everyone from Fortune 100 companies to local businesses, she's represented by Gerald and Cullen Rapp and was chosen by Creative Boom as one of our 30 Illustrators to Follow in 2021.

Perhaps surprisingly, she didn't initially set out to be an artist. "I studied branding design/strategy at the Parsons School of Design when I was diagnosed with an anxiety-related sleep disorder in my senior year and put on medical leave," she recalls. "I was able to finish my studies as long as I completed my thesis. It was during this time that I explored drawing for the first time and created an illustrated book, 100 Ways to Worry, where I interviewed and illustrated people's deepest worries. To this day, mental health, sleep, and dreams are prevalent themes in my work."

Even as she graduated and worked at various companies and agencies, she was teaching herself to illustrate in the nighttime. "Finally, I was able to quit my full-time design job and become a freelance illustrator," she says. "And I now manage my insomnia to the point where it rarely affects me."

Her latest project, Care for Chinatown, involved her donating murals to local businesses and public spaces in Chinatown New York City, where she grew up, as they combat the after-effects and prejudices of the pandemic.