7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #413: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Esther Lui

h1 January 4th, 2015 by jules

Crazy Like a Fox, 2014


It’s the first Sunday of the month—the first one of 2015, of course, and Happy New Year to all!—which means a student or debut illustrator here at 7-Imp. Today, I’ve got a recent graduate. Her name is Esther Lui, her website is here, and she’s here to tell us a bit about her work, as well as share some art.

I thank her for visiting. Oh, and she does comics, too! (This one will take care of my nightmares for a while. HOO HA.)

Circus, 2014

Esther: Hi! I’m Esther Lui. I graduated with a degree in Illustration from RISD last May and am currently working as a textile designer and illustrator in my hometown of Philadelphia.

When I was little, I spent all of my spare time reading. I think at one point I was going through ten books a week! That’s where my love of narrative started. But rather than writing, I ended up expressing my own stories through pictures instead.

Llama Wrangler!, 2013

Because I view a lot of my illustrations as stand-alone stories, I try to fit in as much detail as possible. That way, the viewer can really get immersed in the world I created and wonder about what the characters are like and what’s going to happen to them.

I usually work with a mix of traditional and digital media techniques. I like the physicality of a drawing on paper, and on the computer I can freely experiment with different colors and textures. It’s a good fit for me, because I don’t like having a messy palette.

Dirty Secrets, 2013


Right now, I’m working on some personal projects of stories that I’ve wanted to work on for a while. I really enjoy the process of it, because sometimes in the middle, the piece will take a very different direction that what I first intended – and it becomes even better as a result!


The Herbarium, 2013


The Magnolia Room, 2013


Summer Flowers, 2013


What Liesel Thinks of Horses, 2014


Cover illustration for Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” 2014


All artwork here is used by permission of Esther Lui.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) We didn’t watch Fargo, the T.V. series, when it first came out this year, but I kept seeing it on year-end best-of lists (from critics I trust), so we watched it. And boy howdy, is it good — especially the acting.

2) I can’t get over how good this song from Blake Mills is:

3) Finishing this book with my girls:

4) Finishing a galley with my girls of Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks in Spring (coming in March).

4½) The girls wanted to RE-READ the Penderwick books, one to three, before starting the galley AND they had never read the Joey Pigza books (though I had) AND the one pictured above was the last Joey book, as I understand it, so it was a lot of Joey and a lot of the Penderwicks for the past month or so AND this was a good, good thing.

5) I’m reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, and that man can turn. a. phrase.

6) I knew that Kate Berube, once featured here at 7-Imp as an up-and-coming illustrator, had a good year, but I was extra-happy to see on Facebook that she landed four book contracts this year. Given that one of her 2014 resolutions was to get one book contract, I’d say she’s doing well! Congratulations to her!

7) I got to see friends visiting town for the holidays (including Eisha, who co-founded 7-Imp with me back in the day). This was lovely.

BONUS #1: At the time of this writing, it’s 29 days and 9 hours till the ALA Youth Media Awards!

BONUS #2: Llama-wranglers!


What are YOUR kicks this week?

14 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #413: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Esther Lui”

  1. There’s nothing like loading Seven Imp and seeing a bunny on a dragon.

    Hello, Esther Lui! Congratulations on your degree and your promising career. Thanks for sharing your illustrations with us. I really dig those flowers. Pictures truly can be worth a thousand words. And I can definitely relate to what you said about projects sometimes changing in the middle of the process and taking a new direction – so many possible pathways!

    HI, EISHA!

    Congratulations, Kate!

    Congratulations to all of the folks nominated for Cybils, and kudos to everyone who worked on them.

    I’ve employed a lot of exclamation points in this post.

    Jules: Did you wrangle the llamas yourself or just witness the wrangling? Did the llamas win? I hope they won. Re: Fargo: I haven’t seen the film nor the TV series yet.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Auditions
    2) Notifications
    3) Revisions
    4) Creations
    5) Respecification
    6) Conversations
    7) Interaction – You should have seen the adorable squirrel that was following me around! Absolutely precious.

    P.S. I posted my Best Books of 2014 list at Bildungsroman:
    Congratulations to all of the folks nominated for

  2. I’ve got to second your Bonus #2 — I love that llama wrangler, and all of the art you’ve shown from Esther. I hope editors and art directors are paying attention…

    My kicks:

    1) I made time for a ton of end-of-break socializing — in person, on the phone, and online — that I’d have really missed if I hadn’t gotten around to it.

    2) My family watched The Princess Bride the other night, and everyone thought I was a genius when I suggested that next time we make it a double feature with The Court Jester.

    3) My first copy of my new (upcoming) book with Don Tate arrived, and I’m quite sure I couldn’t love it any more than I do.

    4) So far so good on my plan to work on a new picture book idea each day this month.

    5) I made a stew yesterday, and I always feel good about that.

    6) My first school visit of 2015 is less than two weeks away.

    7) At a New Year’s Eve party, I met and got to talk to a paleontologist AND to one of the editors of Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature.

    Here’s to 2015, everyone!

  3. Esther Luis, good luck on your carreer. I love The Magnolia Room. How fun it would be to write a story to these.
    Jules, hi to Eisha. Is the new Gantos book dark? I heard that.
    Congrats, Kate.
    LW, here’s to squirrels. And revisions.
    Chris, I want to show the Princess Bride to my Grandgirls.
    My kicks:
    1. The CYBILS were announced. Especially love the Poetry list.
    2-7. Youngest Grandgirls are up from Medford for the weekend with Mom. Great time laughing, shopping, and oldest grandgirl spends the night last night. A wild rumpus!
    Have a great week

  4. Your illustrations really do tell an entire story in a single image Esther Lui I was born in the year of the rabbit so the first one caught my eye. I wish you every success!
    Jules: I wish I could have listened in as you read the Gantos and Birdsall books with your girls. I think I need to start them all over again myself. I too am counting the days until the ALA announcements.
    Little Willow: I hope all the notifications last week were positive and uplifting.
    Chris: Good luck with your first school visit. I think I could watch The Princes Bride every single month. I am looking forward to your new book.
    Jone: So happy for the time you have had with your granddaughters.

    My kicks:
    1. Getting caught up on holiday correspondence; still sending out Christmas cards
    2. Thankfully the snow has returned. It’s much better than mist, fog, rain and mud.
    3. Still reading 2014 books while looking forward to all the new releases.
    4. Crackling fires
    5. Glow from candles
    6. Good friends
    7. Xena can still take slow walks with me

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  5. Happy New Year Imps!

    Esther – Your work is lovely. Thank you for sharing. Love that Magnolia Room one.
    Jules – Your book reading with and without the girls sounds chock-full of wonderfulness. I bought “Brown Girl Dreaming” with hopes that my big girl will read it with me. Fingers crossed.
    LW – I love watching the squirrels’ behavior around the bird feeder. I don’t think I would appreciate being followed though.
    Chris – I love all your kicks. Giving myself permission to just hang out with friends and family is something I’m always having to remind myself to do.
    Jone – Hooray for wild rumpus!
    Margie – Glad to hear Xena is walking into 2015. Here’s to slow walks (clinks glass)!


    1. Even though it’s been almost two weeks since I left my day job, I have been mostly out of the studio since then. We have had a cast of thousands for the holidays and the kids have been on vacation. This means THIS week is the real start to my full time job in the art studio. I’m excited.
    2. Auntie Martha’s homemade pumpkin bread
    2. Going to the movies with just my son
    3. new robe
    4. my big wonderful family
    5. blank slate of a new year
    6. friends, old and new
    7. books to share

  6. Oh! I almost forgot.
    Downton Abbey!!!!!

  7. Esther’s work is wonderful, I am looking forward to seeing her progress after school.

    All the best with your work on Seven Impossible Things in 2015 and happy new year!

  8. Happy New Year!

    Such lush illustrations this week. Love the Llama Wrangler, and I found myself getting lost in the world of The Herbarium – I want to know more. Thank you Esther Liu for sharing, and your website was fun to explore too!

    Jules – your reading with the girls is such a great kick, yay for seeing Eisha (and other friends), and I’ll have to add your kick 5 to my long list of To Be Read Books.

    LW – your kicks 1-4 are my favorites this week – hope those notifications are for more gigs for you in 2015!

    Chris – yay for socializing and stew, and that sounds like a very interesting NYE party, guest-list-wise.

    Jone – have fun with your wild rumpus!

    Margie – your kicks of crackling fires, candle glow, good friends and Xena are the best, they paint such a cozy warm picture. Enjoy the warmth.

    Moira – Enjoy your new job of studio work! Your holidays spent with overflowing family sounds wonderful.

    My kicks this week:
    1) My great-nephew Cooper was born Friday night to my niece and her husband – mom and baby are healthy and doing great.
    2) Friday was a full, bustling day of work.
    3) Friday night dinner and drinks with a good friend, we told each other stories of our past while waiting for news of new baby.
    4) Thoughtful gift of “The Gift of Rain” by Tan Twan Eng. The friend who gave it to me said it was her favorite, so I am looking forward to diving in.
    5) Started watching the BBC series Coupling – funny stuff.
    6) Friday lunch with another good friend.
    7) Read “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman, it was a quick read and a good distraction from a cold I was fighting.
    7.5) Mopping all the floors to start the New Year fresh and clean. (I don’t really like it til I’m done, but then the clean floors make me feel really good about the whole house.)

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  9. Thank you Jules! I’m super thrilled! It really was a great year. Thanks again for first sharing my work – it was what got things started for me!

    Esther your work is beautiful! Great color!

    And thank you Little Willow and Jone!

    my kicks:
    -waking up on a Sunday morning and happily getting right to work on book edits.
    -having been able to visit my family over the holidays and see oh, maybe 45 family members. pretty amazing.
    -this NY Times opinion piece about how to reframe the way we think about the hard decisions in life: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opinion/sunday/resolving-to-create-a-new-you.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=1
    -my new cashmere sweater. So cozy! Thanks mom!
    -the knowledge that the new Penderwick book is coming soon! Jules, I’m totally jealous that you have it already! I love them so much. Can’t wait to read it.
    -giving notice at my last part-time job. (this one’s a little bittersweet – happy to be able to do illustration full time but sad to leave a great job.)
    -This blog! I so enjoyed reading about David Roberts last week. LOVE his work!

    Thanks again, Jules! And Happy New Year!

  10. Wow, gorgeous illustrations from Esther Lui! Love the sensual mood and the palettes you choose.

    I’ve been a reader (lurker) for years, but have never piped up to say I love this site, and the detailed insights into artists’ work and working process, so thanks, Jules!

    my kicks:
    1 — seeing my friend and critique buddy Kate Berube was one of your kicks! I loved her new years Facebook post, too. Her success is so well-deserved in so many ways.
    2 — being home, home, home after a fun and crazy 22 day stretch of holiday festivities starting with a pre-chanukah celebration back on december 13th.
    3 — being *this close* to done with a project that has stretched out over almost a year.
    4– the clean blank slate feeling that comes with the new year, a (nearly) finished project and a cleanish desk.
    5 — feeling excited and motivated to draw daily in 2015.
    6 — planning some creative retreats with my crit group.
    7 — getting ready to embrace some big shifts in the areas of home and career in the year ahead.

    Hooray for 2015 — may we all enjoy creative challenges and opportunities in abundance!

  11. Here’s the proper link to my Best Books of 2014 post:

    Welcome out from lurkdom, Abigail! Best of luck with your projects.

    Kate, best of luck with what’s next for you!

    Rachel: Thanks! Congrats to your family.

    Moira: Aw. I like when squirrels follow me.

    Thanks, Margie and Jone.

  12. Little Willow: I checked your site for your best-of list, and thanks for including Wild Things! I’d like to read Cynthia Lord’s book too. Sooo many books to read, and it’s already 2015. … I like respecification as a kick, even if I don’t fully understand it.

    Chris, if I knew you were collaborating with Don Tate, I totally forgot. COOL! And was it Phil Nel you talked to? I gotta get a copy of Tales for Little Rebels — just to own. … Good luck with your first school visit!

    Jone: “Dark”? I guess? I mean, it’s intense. Poor Joey is pretty much left alone to fend for himself, but hasn’t he always? There are spots where my heart broke right in half, but it was very, very good, and I can’t stop thinking about it. … Looking forward to hearing the Cybils winners.

    Margie: I send love and strength to Xena! Always.

    Moira: Now I’m EXTRA excited for this week for you, since it’ll be your first real “full-time” studio time, post-holidays. Woot! Woot!

    Thanks, Antoine — and thanks to Kelly for the heads-up.

    Rachel, sorry you had a cold but hope you feel better now. Congrats on the new family member! Cooper is a wonderful name. Is it a family name, or just a name they like?

    Kate: Full-time illustration? That is great. Congrats again! Thanks for the NYTimes link, which I’m gonna read in a second.

    Abigail: I love to hear from lurkers. Hello! Happy new year (I like the blank-slate’y-ness of it too), and thanks for piping up.

    I hope everyone stays healthy (in the midst of flu season) and has a great week.

  13. I keep losing track of days over the holidays and missing 7 imp! Sorry for being late! The illustrations are gorgeous. I especially like the Herbarium, especially because I work with people at a Herbarium 🙂

    Jules I am jealous over your early Penderwicks reading! But loving the idea of your family reading it together.

    Chris it is too cool your socialising included a paleontologist at a party.

    LW a curious squirrel sounds super cute.

    Abigail you sound so energetic and motivated! Great way to start 2015!

    Good luck to you starting your new role Moira! So exciting!

    Rachael I agree mopped floors make a huge difference to a house. I just have trouble getting mine clear enough to start at the moment! And congrats on Cooper’s arrival!

    1. Everything looks green and lush and tropical after a wet holiday season
    2. Our capsicums (peppers) and tomatoes are vying for space in the veggie bed and may or may not take over the house.
    3. Piles of books to read after lots of holds came in at once
    4. It looks like the library amnesty in exchange for food netted some great things for the charity involved
    5. A lovely supportive mother’s group
    6. Jules, as I read Phyllis Root’s wonderful “Flip, flap, fly” to my little one I finally thought to see if you’d ever interviewed her…and sure enough you have! What a treat.
    7. It was raining torrentially today so we played with the couch cushions all over the floor, so much fun even though I did end up covered in toddler drool from too much laughing.

  14. Emmaco, I love your last kick. Yes, I’m a big Phyllis Root fan. And “capsicums” is the New Thing I’ve Learned from Emmaco!

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