Deb JJ Lee (they/them) is an illustrator and graphic novelist based in Brooklyn, NY who began their dive into independent illustration in 2020 after leaving Silicon Valley as a full-time product designer/illustrator. This was barely two years after their graduation from Carnegie Mellon University School of Design, where Deb, by their final year, decided they needed to become an illustrator.
A maximalist first and human second, Deb has a penchant for making sense of clutter, detail, and body language into lush unique compositions, patterns, and bold color palettes to communicate the right emotion to the viewer, whether it is through a book cover, poster, or an entire graphic novel. Their first graphic novel titled IN LIMBO, a YA memoir that explores the intersection of mental illness, Korean-American diaspora, family conflict, publishes in 2023 with First Second Books. Following the debut is THE OTHER SIDE OF TOMORROW by Tina Cho where Deb illustrates a tale of children escaping North Korea, which will land on bookshelves in 2024 with Harper Collins.
While they particularly enjoy working with emotional storytelling involving AAPI topics, Deb is adamant about having an evergreen breadth of projects that expands beyond Asian America that allows them to make a meticulous illustration each better than the last.
Clients include: Adobe, Google, NPR, Facebook, Wells Fargo, New York Times, New Yorker, Harper Collins, Radiolab, Macmillan Publishers, Simon and Schuster, Scientific American, Chronicle Books, ProPublica, Medium, The Verge, PBS, Japanese Breakfast, Discovery Inc, Procreate App, Lyft, LEGO, LinkedIn, Faber Castell, Sir Kensington’s, Temple University, Columbia University, 3dtotal
They have made guest keynotes and lectures at and with Carnegie Mellon University, Lightbox Expo, Apple, Procreate App, and AIGA and have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, 3x3 Annual, Applied Arts Mag, Print Mag, Creative Quarterly, and Adobe Awards.