Practical parents will tell their children to seek out a career that is rooted in education and evergreen like medicine or law. They like to state that being “creative” is not a vocation in today’s world. Li Liu would immediately rebuke such an idea, countering with the statement that one simply needs to find the ways that use creativity to cultivate one’s own happiness along with an ability to be financially sound. Li abandoned a promising career in environmental design to find excitement working with some of the world’s most famous and award-winning music artists. She now has turned that same creative engine towards jewelry and even tea, confirming that whatever direction she turns her talent towards reaps rewards. For those like Ms. Liu who seek their own brand of fulfillment, the “safe” path pales to the dividends paid in the admiration of other artists and defining one’s own destiny. From working as Production Designer and Art Director on Grammy Award Winning artist Wiz Khalifa’s “Oh Wow” video to designing her own jewelry line, Li Liu is proof that talent and imagination are a means to success and happiness in the twenty-first century.
Working with people you respect and pushing your own creativity is something of a mantra for Li Liu. When offered the position as Art Director for Halsey’s “Anti-V Day” which took a classic scene from the film Mean Girls, Li’s first thought was “I’ve never seen that movie!” and her second thought was, “What fun to take this project on!” Besides working with an artist as acclaimed as Halsey who has won Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, MTV Europe Awards, CMT Awards, and many others, this commercial provided Ms. Liu with the opportunity to establish a world that so many others knew so well even when she did not. She communicates, “To be honest, I’d never seen Mean Girls before but I watched it after I was confirmed on the job. One of the things that I love most about my job is that, because I’m from China there are things in the past of American culture that I’ve missed. I’m forced to come up to speed for a project but I have fresh eyes. I’m really fascinated by the aesthetics of these past decades and I get inspired. I can also say that I have a lot of respect for the people who came before me and created the looks for these films, very talented professionals!” With nearly 3 million views, “Anti-V Day” has been seen and appreciated by many people. The transportive ability of this commercial is instantly and widely accessible. Though she doesn’t often mention it, Li has one credit on this production in addition to that of Art Director. She divulges, “On the day of shooting, we needed someone to play Halsey’s maids and we didn’t have enough actresses to play those roles. Halsey’s assistants and I ended up playing her maids on camera. That is also something I love about my work as well; it is always very fun and surprising, and the people are very easy to get along with.”
When not on set, Li Liu seeks out ways to use her talent with a wide variety of projects, always with the intention of infusing them with the positive spirit she’s so known for throughout the industry. “Inward Season” is her own creation. This jewelry brand has a tagline, “In hope for the only one and you to stay wild and curious, moon child.” The creation of this was a direct intent to have Ms. Liu’s own personal philosophy resonate with others. Li is also presently serving as creative director for Pasadena’s Tea shop T9 which brings the best teas from around the world and delivers them to customers in an authentic, handcrafted way. Though these might seem unrelated to her work with award-winning music artists, one must look deeper to understand that Li Liu’s greatest creative project is her own life; one which illuminates to others that you can define your own boundaries and opportunities rather than adhering to a template set by others.
Writer: Arlen Gann