TeuxDeux Tales: Lichia Liu, Toronto

Behind the scenes at Gotamago, the one-woman stationery brand

Lichia Liu sits at her desk in her downtown Toronto apartment. Outside, there’s the buzz of morning traffic and construction noise; inside, she starts her day by checking TeuxDeux.

Today Lichia is fulfilling orders. She’s surrounded by boxes, into which go her distinctive greeting cards, wrapping paper, and prints.

“I draw stories,” Lichia says. “I like to capture narrative on paper and express it in a way that can be felt by the viewer.”

Lichia has a background in urban design and landscape architecture, but she became a full-time artist two years ago when she realized she missed creating things. Today, she has her own stationery brand — Gotamago — featuring beautiful hand-drawn illustrations that she sells to stores and directly to consumers.

“I usually carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go, just to capture things that inspire me, recording what I see,” she says. Many of these sketches turn into prints and cards. One thing Lichia loves is getting feedback from her customers. One time a customer bought one of her cards inscribed with “You’re the one for me” to propose to his girlfriend (she said “Yes”).

But being a full time artist isn’t entirely creative; Lichia needs to carve out time for administrative tasks like buying supplies, contacting vendors, and shipping orders. She divides her work into different stages to get things done efficiently.

Right now she’s in the packing stage, sending out products. After that, she earmarked two weeks just to draw. “I really try to keep that time sacred. I need that focus to keep my head on the project,” she says, explaining that the continuity of doing it over and over again keeps her productive. Lichia also gives herself the space to daydream and go on long walks, simply to pay attention to what’s around her.

“It’s like a state of mind, being open to whatever’s around you. That’s why I love traveling because that’s when you see everything with new eyes. I also try to do that here in Toronto, walking around, looking around, being a tourist in my own city.”

Lichia prefers to work in an analogue way, writing everything down, instead of using a digital calendar. So TeuxDeux sounds like a surprising choice to manage her life.

“I like TeuxDeux, because it’s there when I want it. It doesn’t bug me when I don’t want it to. It’s just like blank pieces of paper. You can do whatever you want with it.”

Lichia is so organized that it seems like she has a custom list for every element of her life, including book wish lists, grocery lists, customers to contact, and possible dog names. She even has a list of songs she wants to learn on the ukulele.

In the coming months, Lichia is looking to explore herself as an artist, and there’s a lot to do. On her TeuxDeux lists, I see cards to draw, orders to ship, dogs to walk, and even a dog blog to write.

She says, “Ideas can come to you from anywhere. It’s great to jot them down on TeuxDeux!”

Story by Ian Sanders. Find him at iansanders.com or @iansanders on Twitter.

Lichia is at lichialiu.com and gotamago.com. She’s @lichialiu on Twitter.