An interview with Creativity Explored Artist Andrew Li

ink on linen board, 16 x 20 inches

VIDA recently collaborated with San Francisco-based Creativity Explored to support their mission to give artists with developmental disabilities the means to create and share their work with the community, celebrating the power of art to change lives.

We spoke to one of the most celebrated and influential artists at Creativity Explored, Andrew Li. A true product of his native Shanghai, Andrew Li’s art often depicts cityscapes in motion. From Li’s ink-splattered process emerges a representation of how the eye reads the urban environment – how it latches onto certain details and summarizes others, making sense of all the dizzying activity on a busy street. 

In 2009, his rendering of a San Francisco Muni bus and its passengers was chosen to adorn an Actions REALized skateboard deck produced by Real Skateboards and Deluxe Distribution. Li’s illustrations were also used throughout the San Francisco Muni Accessible Services Guide. In 2018, Li completed a 19-foot mural at the new Salesforce Transit Center.

From sharing his influences and inspiration to sharing his love for urban environments and animals, Andrew tells us all…

AL Birds Candle by Andrew Li

We love your work. What inspires you?

I love the simple act of drawing and am inspired by books of all genres, urban environments, animals and most of all people. My paintings often include names of close friends, mentors and family.

Can you share your creative process with us?

I visit Shanghai frequently and my trips always inspire me to create new art based on my experiences there. I’ve recently started looking more closely at Chinese Art in books and have created work inspired by what I’ve learned, including using long, rectangular-shaped paper typically used in Chinese calligraphy.

AL Jungle Tray by Andrew Li

What made you want to explore art-inspired fashion?

I love the process of repetition – I find it very relaxing. My repeat patterns translate well on to various materials as beautiful prints that look great on fashion and home accessories.

Can you share more about your journey and partnership with Creativity Explored?

I joined the Creativity Explored studio in 1990, and thanks to their support my work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at various shows and galleries. I usually work at the studio three days a week during the summer and one day a week for the rest of the year.

Who are your biggest influences?

My friends, family and mentors. I am also fascinated with the natural world and my art often depicts animal groupings, both wild and tame

Do you have a standard process for when you start a new project?

I usually begin by sorting through ideas that have inspired me. Once I pick a direction I usually start by preparing the surface of the paper I plan on using. Recently I’ve been experimenting with very large paper sizes which requires a lot of surface work.

How do you know when a work is finished?

When the available drawing field is filled up – or when the pen ink is dried up!

How does it feel to have your art on products and shared with a large audience?

I am genuinely happy when my work is well received by my peers and fans. I am thankful for their support.

Shop Andrew Li’s Collection on VIDA

Explore the Creativity Explored x VIDA Collection