Meet The Artist: Valerie Win Liu

Here at ARCH, we celebrate Pride all year round! We’ve been in the art business a long time, and we love being able to use our platform to bring to light emerging artists. So for this Pride month, we wanted to take the time to highlight and share the work of queer artists of our own community.

For Pride 2024, we got to sit down and hear about the amazing work of the artist Valerie Lui (she/they/he). When we envisioned this interview project, we knew immediately Val would be the perfect fit, with not only their wonderful and inspiring work filled with bold bright colors and creative uses of materials, but also their bright and bubbly personality.

You can read the whole interview below or watch your video interview by clicking here.

1. What’s your name, your pronouns, and how do you identify? 
My name is Valerie Win Liu (they/he/she) ! I use all pronouns interchangeably, I identify as a Queer, Burmese-Chinese American Artist, Illustrator, and Maker!

2. Where did your artistic journey begin? How long have you been making art? 
I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, however, it wasn’t until I was in community college that I decided to pursue illustration and art. After graduating high school, I was originally considering going into another major, but whilst I was in community college, I started to illustrate for my college’s newspaper (shoutout to Chabot college, and The Spectator!). From then on, I had professors encourage me to consider art and illustration—after I finished my first few years at community college, I enrolled and transferred into the Illustration BFA program at California College of the Arts.

3. What can you tell us about your work? What do you enjoy making, what materials do you enjoy using the most, and what is your process like?
In my work, I like to explore themes such as joy, queerness, humor, curiosity, community, and self expression—I love drawing joyful people, sparkles, colorful imagery! I think illustrating and painting are definitely my first love, but as of lately, I’ve been really enjoying new materials like paper mache and upcycled materials. I like to work with a variety of mediums: paint, mixed media, sculpture, upcycled objects and materials, digital art and more. I love using bold and bright colors in my work and I love discovering or using materials that help me achieve the finish I enjoy. My most used materials are gouache, ink and POSCA markers—I also love to use hot glue for crafts! I usually use a hybrid approach to my work— I love to sketch and illustrate traditionally, and utilize digital tools to configure what I want the end result to be, from there I either finalize the piece traditionally or digitally, depending on the project.

4. Who are some of your favorite artists, or artists that inspire you and your work? 
I find a lot of inspiration from other illustrators, some of my favorites being: Gizem Vural, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero O’ Connell, Yuko Shimizu, and many many more. I also find a deep sense of inspiration from the artists and mentors within my community— Micheal Wertz, Isabel Samaras, Micheal Johnstone  and David Faulk of Verasphere, and many others—it’s hard just to name a few! I find so much inspiration from the community that surrounds me.

5. What does the term “Pride” mean to you? How do you bring your own definition of “Pride” into your work?  
“Pride is important because someone tonight still believes they’re better off dead than being themselves” —a quote from graphic designer, Sterling Graves
I see Pride as not only necessary to queer survival, but vital for queer folks to thrive. Pride is a necessity for folks who may not initially see a future in embracing themselves, knowing that there is a way to live a full and rich life of love, joy, and possibility. Being queer, making art that echoes my own or other’s experience of queerness is a huge cornerstone in my work, and I hope to continually make stuff that brings joy and pride to those who encounter it.

6. Any advice for other upcoming queer artists?
Be authentic! There is so much joy and richness in being queer and having pride, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Lean into your community, found family, show up for those around you, for yourself, find the people and mentors that support you and make art that brings you joy and contentment.

7. Where can people see and find out more about you and your work?
I have a website where I showcase my work, and I also post about what I’m up to I do on Instagram!

My Portfolio Website:
My Instagram Handle: @valerie.liu