Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Ashley Liu Illustration

Our Universal Experience of Isolation

Character Design
Concept Art
Social Change

These are a series of illustrations I started in , early peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City.

Despite the whirlwind of confusing emotions I felt during these times, I knew my experience wasn’t unique. Every New Yorker shared the same struggles. Every human on the planet was affected in one way or another. You know how you feel like the world is ending after a bad breakup, that nobody is hurting more than you, and nothing good will happen ever again? It feels so unique to you because you’re just hurting so much, but it’s actually a universal human experience. Everyone will feel that aching sense of loss at some point in their lives, whether it be from a romantic partner, a falling out with a friend, or familial conflict. This is what that pandemic was, uniting the population as a whole under one surreal, universal event. Luckily, us humans also find comfort in knowing we aren’t swimming alone in our storm of emotions, and we’re all struggling to stay afloat together.

I wanted to capture that human experience in these narrative illustrations - I did not intend for this to be an autobiographical series. It isn’t. I intend for these to be images that anyone can look at and think, “Ok, this is a bit too relatable…”

I intentionally chose to illustrate scenes that seem almost wrong to witness, too intimate or too voyeuristic. I wanted the viewer to feel like the image is invasively rifling through all the classified memories filed away in their brain’s archive.

Although many of these images are actually not specific to Covid-19, it’s obvious which ones have been heavily influenced by it. However, I want to leave everything open to interpretation, and I want the viewer to weave their own narratives - whether it be from their own lives or from an imaginary tale that intuitively comes to mind.