Ode to Jianrong Lin’s “Momentum” series

“I think human bodies look best when in motion,” says Illustrator Jianrong Lin ’16, of “Momentum,” his series of athletes in the heat of competition. Lin’s work evokes images depicted on ancient Greek urns. “What men or gods are these?” one might be inspired to ask, as the poet John Keats did of the “mad pursuit” of gods and maidens.
Jianrong Lin

“I used different body forms to convey power, speed, and flexibility.  I made this composition [above] in an arc form to emphasize speed and momentum.  Perhaps this is the moment right after the runners take off,” says Lin.

Since graduating Lin has created posters and medical illustrations for the pharmaceutical company Merck, a storyboard for an AT&T campaign and a restaurant mural.  One of his illustrations was accepted into this year’s Society of Illustrator’s Annual Student Show.

Jianrong Lin

“The foundation of Jianrong’s fantastic work starts with his observation of things as they are, then translated into unique images. He has a sense of color that’s his own that comes from hard work and a love for what he does.” – Ed Soyka, Chair, Illustration 

“These swimmers [above] just plunged into the water. To charge forward, they turn their bodies into waves,” says Lin.

Lin has a long list of artists he admires.  “Some who have influenced me the most are Bil Donovan, Carlos Aponte, Laura Laine, Charlie Harper, Oneq, Guangzhong Wu. I’ve pinned tons of illustrations of these artists on Pinterest for inspiration and reference.”


“I know exceptionalism when I see it and it was obvious from the first class with Jianrong that he was in that category. – Bil Donovan, FIT Illustration professor and Society of Illustrators board member

“When I think of football, what comes to mind are strength, physical contacts, and how the players can be piled up in weird ways,” says Lin.

“What I learned from the Illustration program is a combination of so many things. It can be a technique I learned in a life drawing class, or ways to observe the object I want to draw. It’s even some words a professor said to me that stuck in my head,” he says.


“Volleyball players will do everything to save the ball. I’m always fascinated by how they’re willing to get on the floor,” says Lin.

Meanwhile, “Yoga is all about flexibility and mindfulness, so I tried to keep the figures simple and soft, almost feather-like. The composition [below] was inspired by cabbages — You know when you cut those purple cabbages in half and discover the wonderful patterns!” says Lin.


“For sure, without what I learned in FIT’s illustration program, I wouldn’t be able to create this series. I’m very grateful for it.”

Says Ed Soyka, Chair of Illustration, “He took what he learned and translated it into a personal, creative and fantastic artistic vision of his own.”

See more of Jianrong Lin’s work at JianrongLin.com or Instagram @Jianrong_Lin

To learn more about the School of Art and Design Illustration major visit: Illustration and Interactive Media at FIT

Illustrations used with permission.

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