CONNIE LIM is a talented ARTIST and DESIGNER who has collaborated with luxury brands and been featured in top PUBLICATIONS. In this edition of CITIZENS, she shares her creative journey and upcoming projects.

19 Apr 2023

Tiffany Chung

Hey Connie, tell us about your path into the world of fashion illustration.

I started my art when I went to Art Center in LA. Originally, I wanted to design video game characters, but we had to mandatorily take a fashion illustration class and I just fell in love with it. I was really interested in the clothes and my tutor said I had a good expression of fashion. But at the time, I wasn't very confident in myself as an illustrator, so I decided to go into fashion design and moved to London to study at Central Saint Martins. While studying in the program, I realized I didn't want to make clothes, I just wanted to draw. I wasn't passionate about fabrics, but I could illustrate things really well. I'm glad I came to London because of all the connections I made and the creativity in the city. Being in the center of it is quite nice. Now, I'm kind of rebranding at the moment as a live events illustrator. I draw backstage at fashion shows and for brands. I really like drawing live people.

Why the change to event illustration?

I discovered that it’s the thing I love doing the most and I'm probably better at that than anything else. I've recently finished a job with Alexander McQueen at their store in December. I think it has helped me be part of the community because you meet people who actually buy the garments, and you build better connections with brands. So, it's my goal this year to fully transition.

What do you feel was your ‘big break’ project?

When I graduated, for one of my final projects, I produced playing cards and they were produced by the company that does all the Las Vegas cards. That was quite a big moment for me as a personal project. When you have something produced, you feel a little bit more validated as an artist.


Artist, illustrator, designer, and educator, Connie Lim, has worked with brands such as GUERLAIN, BULGARI, and LOUBOUTIN. Her work has been featured in books including MARTIN DAWBER's Great Big Book of Fashion Illustration, and Beautiful by GESTALTEN and the latest by TASCHEN, The Illustrator - 100 Best From Around the World.  In this edition of Citizens, she talks to us about her inspirations, how she got her start in fashion, and her next evolution as an illustrator.

3 must-have things while you work.

All my pencils because my starting point is always with line drawings. I need my speakers and I need my coffee, then I'm good and I can just do my thing.

Describe your artistic process.

I always start with a line drawing and an idea. Right now, I'm dabbling in different materials. I'm doing oil pastels because I'm getting bored. I'm kind of mingling with different materials and just trying to find my new identity.

AI image creation tools are predicted to change many different industries. How do you think it’ll affect yours?

I checked it out and I’m signed up for Dall-E. It’s interesting but my own practice is special to me, and AI would never replace it. That's my feeling towards it, but of course the world is different, and you do have to be aware of those kinds of things. But I think people are always drawn to human touch and handmade things. That's why I love life drawing, you're in the moment, there’s no ego, there’s no influence, just you and the material and that's it. You can't hide, you can't copy, you have to be in the moment, it's very present. I feel like it's really honest. For me, that’s the most important thing.

Who is someone you are dying to collaborate with?

I would have loved to collaborate with McQueen when he was alive. I really admired his work and was actually my main inspiration going into the fashion route. His work has so much depth and meaning both personally and socially that resonated deeply with me. Since I am more of an illustrator, it would have been cool to do some prints for his collections and drawings backstage at his shows based on his inspirations.

How has working in fashion affected your personal style?

Growing up in LA, I always carry an element of the relaxed and hobo-like aesthetic. However, since being in London there has been a great addition of blacks into my wardrobe. I'm not sure what to call the mix.

What do you wear to live events?

It depends on the brand, but I generally do try to dress up a little bit more, like suit trousers or a blazer. I also wear my apron if I am using more of a messy medium such as paints/oil pastels.

Who's the most interesting person that you’ve illustrated?

Yen Zhao, her Insta handle is eagle_yen, she’s a stylist. I drew her at McQueen, I thought she was really interesting because she was wearing leather boots and didn’t fall into what we perceive a Chinese mom or auntie should be. As an Asian woman, there’s this idea that when we get old, we turn into dumplings or something, but she's this very stylish woman.

This or that, monochrome or colorful?

I used to be monochrome but now I think I'm colorful.

Eat to live or live to eat?

The one that enjoys food, live to eat.

Light packer or over packer?

Light packer.

Do you prefer being in publications or Exhibitions?

I would say exhibitions because I think it's different to see the artwork in person than in a photo.

Who has been your most meaningful mentor?

Nancy Reigleman. She was my tutor at Art Center. She sadly passed away a few years ago right when COVID happened. She changed my life. I was her assistant briefly, doing some odd jobs for her and she’s the one who told me to go to London.

And now you yourself are an educator. What do you like about it?

I like that I get to be around people. I'm an introvert and spend a lot of time in my studio alone. Teaching gives me a chance to really connect with other people and, it’s a bit cheesy, but I feel like I'm giving back in some way. When you see that your advice changes someone’s work for the better, it's a really good feeling, like maybe I'm making a difference to somebody.

To wrap things up, name a person, place, or thing that inspires you.

A place that inspires me is Spain. I love it, it's my favorite country. A thing that inspires me is this William Kentridge exhibition I recently saw. He is also the person that inspires me. I really admire his craftsmanship. I love old masters because they had no social media and they worked on their craft for years. I generally find people want instant gratification these days, but it takes so many years to get to that level. For me, that symbolizes a level of commitment to artistry, and I feel that is getting lost because people are just so distracted these days.

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