Artist Studio | Davy Liu


By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Did you always want to be an artist? I really didn’t have any choice. I am the only Chinese kid that never made straight A’s in school. In Taiwan, I was a functioning right-brain kid growing up in a left-brain society. But I drew all the time, and my dad saw that I had a gift for art. He gave me my first sketchbook.

You were 13 when your family moved to Florida in 1982. Was there an adjustment? My parents thought America could give us a future that Taiwan couldn’t. In the beginning, it was a big-time adjustment. I had never seen a black kid before. It was culture shock. I didn’t speak a world of English. But once the Puerto Rican and black kids realized I wasn’t a martial arts expert, I wasn’t a threat. And I started to make friends with them through my drawings.

For a while you worked in the film industry. What projects did you work on, and what was your position? I had good classical training in drawing and painting at Ringling College of Art and Design. And Disney was looking for an animator for Beauty and the Beast when I went with them in 1990. I stayed with them off and on through The Lion King. I also worked with George Lucas on Star Wars. In my personal time, a few of us artists would take a sandwich and go paint Los Angeles scenes.

Now you are a full-time fine artist. How has your work in film influenced your art? The best part of working in the film industry was learning from the best artists and then seeing your art come to life on the big screen with depth, sound, and story. Working in film those years strengthened my composition and gave me a great understanding of color.

What kinds of things do you keep in your studio for inspiration? I have a lot of antique things like old costumes, vases, wooden buckets, and children’s hats. I feel like I am living in an ancient fairy tale. We use them in the weekly art classes I teach in my studio.

How often do you take your students to China to paint? Since 2000, I have visited China about six times. Things are not as developed there, more organic. Nothing is perfect there like in California. Roads aren’t paved. It has this Old West feel to it. It’s still a wild, untamed country.

When you are not painting, where can people find you? Working on my children’s books.

What is the one place people would never find you? In a bar or pub. I have never liked the environment of loud music. But I will gladly go to a karaoke bar any day and sing my heart out.


LeKAE Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ;

Upcoming Show
Solo show at LeKAE Gallery through February 28.

Featured in February 2009