Xiaojie in her studio at the MFA building

MFA student Xiaojie Liu chats about studying in a different country, upcoming projects, and advice for future illustrators.

Why did you decide to seek an MFA?

In China, my undergrad degree is just in illustration. I want to keep going to create my career as a freelance illustrator.

What was your thought process when choosing MCAD for your master's?

It was a hard decision, not only for me but for my family. I can really relate it to the work I did my first year. It’s all about the challenge that I faced after I came here. I faced a huge culture shock. I learned English before coming here, but it was still really hard for me to communicate with others. Of course, since English isn’t my first language reading and writing papers take me much longer than it would if I were to write in Chinese, but it is a really good experience for me!

Xiaojie Liu, Tujia

How long have you been here? 

I’ve been here for a year.

Do you go home over the holiday breaks?

I went home for winter break, but not summer break.

What do you enjoy most about your MFA experience?

For MCAD MFA studio I think what most attracted me was that all the different students study the history classes together. And by doing that, we were able to get to know each other and know what everyone else's thoughts were and you can learn a lot from other people.

Xiaojie Liu's studio

What do you think about the new MFA building?

It’s really great. The space is really big, and we’re allowed to do what we want. Our studio spaces are really nice, and we’re able to decorate how we want. We don’t have doors to our studios so we can communicate with our peers really conveniently. 

What is your favorite thing about illustration?

When talking about illustration, my favorite thing is that I can use many kinds of materials and there are many kinds of ways that I like to express. I really like to try different kinds of mediums. Most of my work is based on people and you can see that in most of my illustrations.

Xiaojie Liu, One Day

Can you describe your artistic process?

My work I did my first year was like a diary of my time abroad. This year I’m focusing more on my own culture, who I am, and where I’m from. This is an interesting question for me because I’m a national minority girl. There are fifty-six national minorities in China, and mine is named Tujia. We have quite a different culture and set of customs compared to what everyone is taught about China. I think people would be really interested in my culture.

What kinds of projects are you working on now?

Now I’m starting to work on my thesis project. I’m currently thinking about what I want to do. I will probably continue to create work about myself. I have so many memories from my childhood and I really want to recreate those moments into several pieces or even make them all happen at one time in one piece.

Xiaojie Liu, Ladies

What advice do you have for art and design students?

My advice for people who are planning to come abroad for their studies would be to learn more about the culture. Because after you get here if you’re not prepared you might feel really nervous and not know what to do. 

My advice for people who are interested in illustration would be to really practice your skills in drawing and painting. It’s important because you have so many ideas and if you can’t draw it out then you won’t be able to illustrate it with the details you have in your mind. 

Check out more of Xiaojie Liu's work on her website.