Arts Thread

Lily Qian
Illustration BFA

Parsons School of Design

Specialisms: Illustration / Drawing / Graphic Design

Location: New York, United States

lily-qian ArtsThread Profile
Parsons School of Design

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Lily Qian

Lily Qian ArtsThread Profile

First Name: Lily

Last Name: Qian

Specialisms: Illustration / Drawing / Graphic Design

Sectors: Digital/Visual Communication/Film / Digital/Visual Communication/Film

My Location: New York, United States

University / College: Parsons School of Design

Course / Program Title: Illustration BFA


Lily Kim Qian is a Chinese-Canadian artist based in New York. She graduated with a BFA in illustration from Parsons the New School of Design in 2021. Her body of work focuses on exploring memory, liminality, displacement and mental health. She is currently working on her graphic memoir, Pareidolia. Along with her freelance illustration practice, she works as a design intern with Macmillan Children's books. In her spare time, she enjoys feeding pigeons and taking care of cats. Lily is a recipient of the 2020 James Lee Foundation Scholarship, a winner of RoomFifty's Young Upstart Competition 2021. Her work was selected for the Kaunas Illustration Biennial 2021 and the Society of Illustrators Student Show 2021. Some of her clients have included the New York Times, Buzzfeed News, Rebel Girl, Slate, and On Being.

Pareidolia is a graphic memoir that chronicles a girl’s journey through childhood into adolescence. Moving between cities in Canada and China she wonders about the meaning of belonging as her life continues to shift. Her father, a Chinese immigrant, struggles to take care of her as a single parent. Her elusive mother grapples with mental illness. As her dysfunctional family encounters obstacles through life – from language barriers to grief and loss – the girl slowly comes to terms with forces beyond her comprehension. Pareidolia highlights my mother’s struggle with mental illness, my parents’ divorce, and my father’s challenges as a single parent. The narrative highlights themes of displacement, family conflict, and mental health issues. The ambiguity of memory is an important theme explored through the narration.The narrative voice is split into one that is experiencing the events of the memoir as they are unfolding, and another looking back at the experiences with the benefit of hindsight. This is related to the title, Pareidolia, which refers to the phenomenon where things are perceived as different from what they actually are. As a result, readers are left wondering which perspective is closer to the truth.