Our new artist profile is dedicated to NICOLE XU, a cosmopolitan illustrator now based in Brooklyn, NYC. From traditional Chinese landscape painting to the charm of British Columbia woods and Mitski’s indie-rock soul, this is ON! Storie‘s 4th Q&A.

Where are you writing from?

I’m currently writing from my apartment in Brooklyn, listening to a Mitski album!

How does your city inspire you?

NYC is an amazing city to live in. Maybe it’s because I only recently moved here, but I’m constantly amazed at how different the city looks every time I emerge from the subway. The people here are also incredibly diverse, and it seems like everyone’s hustling on their own creative project, which inspires me to work harder.


How has your living in many different and diverse cities affected you?

I love seeing how people’s lifestyles and attitudes change from city to city. Sometimes I feel a bit like an outsider observing everyone else, but all the different experiences I have made me who I am today.

Which are your major sources of inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from nature, music, books, and, of course, other artists. I just like to absorb whatever I can get my hands on. Everything matters!

Three illustrators that today you think are doing a great job.

I’m a huge fan of Jillian Tamaki, Joohee Yoon, and Micah Lidberg’s work. Their art is so distinctive and smart, and can be applied to so many different projects.

If you had to draw one subject for one year, what would that be?

I would probably pick plants. There are endless possibilities to play with their shapes and colors. I’ve always wanted to make patterns out of them.

How does your Chinese origin influence your work?

I’ve always been drawn to the atmospheric, gentle nature of Chinese landscape paintings, which I think is echoed in my work.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

 Honestly, most of my time is spent drawing, whether it’s for work or for fun. I also read a lot of books and watch a lot of films. I just watched “The Imitation Game”, so naturally I started reading a book about deciphering codes.


Do you have a motto that always cheers you up and keeps you going?

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs”, by Victor Hugo.

One piece of advice for wannabe freelance illustrators.

Be persistent. Illustration isn’t an easy career path, and it’s easy to get discouraged, but just keep making art and people will notice.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her webpage here! All the side-text images are from Nicole’s 2016 Inktober challenge.