Olivia Li

Queens, NY

Olivia Li is a cartoonist, multidisciplinary artist, and organizer based in Queens, NY. She’s particularly interested in telling coming-of-age and self-discovery stories of queer, POC protagonists, and portrayals of lived experiences of mental illness. Her comics dive into this focus through magic, myth, and the lives of urban ambiverts. She has edited two indie comics anthologies and has recently started dipping her toe into small press publishing under the banner of Lenticule Press.

Olivia Li

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a small child I had a collection of Leo Lionni picture books that I read over and over. I love his soft yet bright imagery, his use of different collage and painting techniques for texture, and the fact that all those melancholy stories probably gave me depression haha. As a medium-sized child, it was all Tamora Pierce and other fantasy adventure stories, plus any kind of myth or fairy tale retelling I could find.

What is your favorite food?

It’s a tie between xiao long bao and really good grapes

What do you love to do for fun?

Getting through my daunting piles of books I’ve bought but haven’t read yet, textile crafts (mostly embroidery and cross-stitch), mahjong, cooking and baking, running around New York with pals, pet every cat, accidentally getting caught up in random design projects (right now I am casually trying to design the perfect work backpack for the art/design freelancer who travels a lot and carries a million supplies)

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

The parts of travel I remember most vividly are the ones that spark my visual imagination, landscapes and structures so different from what I’m used to that my mind starts making up stories that could only be set here. My top three so far: 1) the cable car up to Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong, 2) the Road to Hana on Maui, and 3) the tiny little side streets in Venice. Also: I love hanging out in graveyards, because I am a spooky ghost.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

The stories I always go back to are the ones you find in mythology, fairy tales, folklore. There’s something I really love about the fact that cultures all around the world kept making up the same stories to tell each other. The root of storytelling is human connection, how cool is that! That’s what I’m trying to do, make stories that come from my experiences and see who they connect with.

Art Process:

My illustrations and comics nearly always start life as messy little pencil drawings that are barely legible to other people, so I can figure out compositions without getting too precious. After what I call the “sloppy thumbnails” stage, I move onto digital (in my primary workflow, at least, since it’s better than traditional for my hand and wrist, and offers more flexibility). Here’s where I draw cleaner thumbnails and layouts (and sometimes color-blocking), then pencils and lettering, then inks and colors. For client work, I will show each stage for review and adjustments before moving to the next; I submit several options at the “clean thumbnails” stage if a composition/design needs to be made by the client.

I currently use Clip Studio Paint on my iPad as my primary drawing software, and sometimes Adobe Fresco. I’m proficient in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, and After Effects.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT OLIVIA

Mediums:

Mostly digital these days, sometimes ink on paper

Specialties:

Forthcoming books:

West Middle Mirror (Andrews McMeel, Fall 2026)

Published books:

Location:

Queens, NY

Visit Olivia at:

Awards and honors:

MICE Mini-Grant recipient (2019) for Good Morning, Gorgon!

Available for School Visits:

It’s been a few years, but I’ve taught single- and multiple-week comics workshops for age ranges 6-8 and 8-14, and am open to doing more! These consisted of comic formats and basic story structure, leading up to each participant making their own stapled mini-comic.