May 24, 2022

Let's Talk Illustrators #214: Lisk Feng

As a big fan of carousel books, you can imagine my delight when I learned that the duo behind 2020's Our World: A First Book of Geography was creating a companion book! Our Seasons: The World in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn by Sue Lowell Gallion and Lisk Feng takes readers on a 3D trip around the globe to explore the world's seasons. Enjoy my chat with Lisk about this super cool series and its latest installment!

About the book:
The youngest readers are invited to identify and experience the Earth's amazing seasons around the globe through rhyming verse and lush illustrations: frosty winter, blossoming spring, bountiful summer, colourful autumn. Secondary text offers detailed curriculum-focused facts that encourage children to consider their own environments, making the experience personal yet set within a global backdrop. This informative homage to Earth's seasons is sure to inspire children to learn more about their planet - and to engage with the world around them.

Let's talk Lisk Feng!

LTPB: Our Seasons: The World in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn is the much-anticipated follow-up to Our World: A First Book of Geography (which I show off here), both written by Sue Lowell Gallion. How did you become the illustrator of this super cool series?

LF: I was a huge fan of Phaidon when I was a grad student. When I move to New York after graduating, I had a chance to visit the office, it was such a great memory! They invited me to talk about possible projects, showed me around, and gave me a book they published. It might plant a little seed there, and after about three to four years later, the right project came and I was invited and officially start working on this amazing and perfect project~! I think my works contain lots of seasonal scenes, I am fond of drawing nature and animals all the time. I am glad I am part of this journey!

LTPB: These books are carousel book board books, so do you plan/plot your images differently than you do with traditional picture books? What is your creative process like for developing images for Sue’s words knowing that the book itself is an art piece?

LF: I tried to see all the pages as one. When I planned out the sketches, I am very aware of the relationships between pages. I want kids to always have a surprise when they turn the pages. For example, the previous page could be super busy, and when they flip over, a very peaceful calm sun shines through the book. This contrast in-between page contains the ability to attract kids' attention; And at the same time, it looks great when it is a globe. I also used fish eye prospect a lot as well. I wish I could be the cameraman for the book, I capture different scenes with the machine, sometimes half in the water, sometimes high up in the sky.

LTPB: Since this is the second in a series, what did you find yourself most excited to illustrate, and what were some of the more challenging moments?

LF: The most exciting part will be the sunlight shining on the different surfaces! It is very romantic to be able to draw different seasons of sunlight. The challenging moment for me is always the map. The map is probably one of the most difficult things to draw. We want a realistic yet not so detailed map, a map containing life, building, and human, but at the sometimes simple and graphic. When I had all this information, I need a longer time to digest it. I still remember the fear, hahaha.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations in this book? Is this your preferred medium? How does your process change from book to book?

LF: I use digital media. Mainly photoshop, sometimes on IPAD. It is for the purpose of changing things, adding things whenever required. I could also work remotely. I worked in the school library half the time when I illustrate the first book. I finished the second book in the building common area because I was moving and has no table and chairs for a month. My process will be quite consistent throughout one serious, I make small progress on each book, to make fewer mistakes and put more details.

LTPB: What are you working on now?

LF: I am currently working on lots of editorial works, and also another book related to shadow.

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

LF: I want Barbara Cooney and Decur to illustrator all my books if possible hahaha. I am always in love with tight and neat drawings. I think they shows my other side. I was always told I should draw things loose and powerful at the same time, but my heart always goes to the neat side. I could render endless….so thus I want my favorite illustrators to make my dreams come true.

A million thanks to Lisk for taking time to answer some questions! Our Seasons: The World in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn published last month from Phaidon Press!

Special thanks to Lisk and Phaidon for use of these images!

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