Ness Lee is a Toronto-based illustrator who is recognized for her distinctive illustration style and subject matter. A graduate of OCAD University, Lee was selected as a top illustrator by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators and CMYK magazines.
Lee’s work at first glance can be viewed as playful and humorous renditions of familiar Asian icons, from sumo wrestlers to lucky cats to noodle bowls. A closer look reveals an exploration of the complex relationship between the self and one’s place in contemporary culture and society. Lee draws on her personal experiences – negotiating what it means to be Hakka-Chinese Canadian, a person of colour, an artist, a young female, a daughter – to portray multifaceted characters, often in vulnerable positions and contexts. At the same time, Lee subtly brings attention to and challenges traditional perceptions of Asian beauty, sexuality, nudity and power, bringing together pieces of her cultural heritage to create a strong and candid visual narrative of her own.