“Don’t color outside the lines!” is an admonishment many artists begrudgingly endure throughout their childhood years spent with crayons and coloring books. Steven Liu (b. 1989) resolves this issue by first making the black outlines of his drawings himself and then filling them with as much, or as little, color as he wants. His tireless personal energy is expressed in his line. It too cannot be contained; it moves and jumps, doubles back, extends out and then returns in long jittering loops, stopping occasionally to take note of a particular aspect before continuing on its vigorous way.
Liu prefers complex compositions involving multiple figures elaborately posed in ornate clothing, or engaged in intricately rendered activities. His style retains the action and movement of his subjects. Liu is equally comfortable working in black and white or with color. And his color is lavish and precise, at once true-to-life and surreal, the yellow of hair or the blue of a shirt slash across and beyond the lines meant to border them. This attention to detail and its willful disruption have helped Steven Liu elevate the humble marker (his preferred medium) to heights normally reserved for the finest materials. In his hands, a few markers are as expressive as a palette full of oil paints.