Q&A with a student illustrator

Lisha Zhong, a NatSci from Downing College, discusses her illustration and career ideas

Hi Lisha! Tell us a bit about you…

Hi! I’m a second year NatSci at Downing College, and I’m from Oxford (I know, I know…)

How did you get into illustration? What do you enjoy most about it?

I first started getting into illustration through doing Textiles GCSE and A-Level at school. It was the first time that I focused a great deal of time towards drawing and experimenting with different media and styles, and it wasn’t long before I got hooked. What I love is the enjoyment I get from the process – sometimes it takes a long time, but it’s a labour of love and I enjoy the therapeutic feeling that comes with repetitive mark-making, so it’s always worth it. Equally, I also enjoy digital illustration as I get to play with shape and form without the necessity of having a specific goal in mind, which makes it a great contrast from my studies.

Ultimately I would love to work with biomaterials or repurposing waste

What other things are you interested in, beyond your studies?

When I’m not studying, you can find me in an art gallery or at the botanical garden. It’s such a good way to unwind or get some inspiration, and I’m always so thankful for their accessibility. To this end, I have even worked as a gallery assistant at the Heong Gallery and am currently the treasurer for the Fitzwilliam Museum Society. Music is another big interest of mine, and recent Childish Gambino and James Blake concerts were a major highlight of the year for me.

Do you know what you want to do career-wise, beyond Cambridge?

I’m still in the process of deciding what I want to do beyond Cambridge, as my course allows me a lot of choice, and I’ve definitely taken advantage of the breadth so far! I am still contemplating between sticking with science and choosing Materials, Plant Science or Art/Design. Ultimately I would love to work with biomaterials or repurposing waste, as I’m very keen on having an element of sustainability in what I choose to do.

Tell us something few people know about you.

I am a massive Haruki Murakami fan and I tend to turn to his books to escape reality. I’m always drawn to the completely off-kilter and yet somehow believable world that he conjures. But I’ll be honest, it was definitely the cover art by Noma Bar that really convinced me to give his books a try.

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