Jasmin Lai The LA illustrator beautifying her city’s infamous highways

Cover Image - Jasmin Lai

Los Angeles is a city that is famous for many things – from its busy highways to the weird and wonderful ways of Hollywood. It’s not though particularly known as a beautiful city, which is where Jasmin Lai comes in.

The LA-based artist, illustrator and animator has created a series of images of her hometown which present it in an excitingly different light – as a landscape where vivid colours play on the horizon and the night sky becomes an enticing urban light show.

“Honestly, I’ve always found the city to be absolutely beautiful,” Jasmin says. “I mean sure, I can see why parts of it might not be conventionally pleasing to the eye, but what I love about LA is that it’s so dynamic, always changing and growing. There’s pollution in the air, but that also means the sky will never look the same, and the city is so densely lit at night that from a distance, the buildings look like they’re sprinkled with glitter.”

All this has an intoxicating effect on Jasmin and her work. “It just gives me a tremendous sense of ambition and awe,” she says. “I spend a lot of time on the road, and it’s always such a treat to see the cityscape, especially when the sun is about to set.”

Jasmin is a versatile creative talent, and she spent three years working on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, first as a painter and then as the show’s art director.

“Like most TV productions, you’re constantly working under an intense time schedule and whether it’s art directing or painting, the goal is always to maintain quality work with the limited resources you have,” she explains. “Teamwork is very important because everyone plays an integral role in the pipeline; it’s very easy to fall behind on deadlines.”

As well as developing her technical skills, Jasmin also enjoyed studying the storytelling aspect of the show, and would sit in on the writers’ pitch meetings whenever possible to see how they went about bringing this world to life.

This stood her in good stead for her subsequent freelance career where she has worked for the likes of Google and Disney. And she has also said in the past that being “stubborn” has been a great help in building and developing her portfolio.

“I think it’s really important for creative people to be able to handle criticism without getting beaten down, and through that you can grow persistence and confidence in your work,” she says.

“But there’s a point where someone can be so stubborn they lose self-awareness, and that’s when you should take a moment to re-evaluate if you’re really helping yourself with your career.”

Whatever her approach, Jasmin’s own career is going from strength to strength, and she’ll continue to be inspired by the under-appreciated city she calls home.