Downtown Outdoors: Meet Artist Lily Williams

No matter what she’s doing, you can bet it's going to be art-related. That’s what artist Lily Williams told us when we caught up with her between her day job at the Arlington Museum of Art and her latest artistic endeavors.

Lily is the artist behind the new series of illustrations depicting the beauty of outdoor spaces in Downtown Arlington. Since we debuted them on our social media channels, we’ve turned two of her illustrations into limited edition posters which will be made available at the Abram Street Dedication event Friday, October 9.

Downtown Arlington:  What did you enjoy most about working on this series?

Lily Williams:  I love the aesthetic of vintage National Parks posters, so it was a fun artistic challenge for me to emulate the style! It really lends itself to showcasing natural beauty. And I absolutely love the color palette.

DO:  Tell us a little about your creative process.

LW:  My process is always really research-heavy. I spent a long time collecting images of the original Parks posters. I made sure to find the exact colors and fonts used. Once you have the strongest possible platform of information, you can start deciding what bits you want to keep and what elements you want to make your own! 

DO:  One of the posters in the series features Gene Allen Park. Tell the story of how your family is involved with Arlington's Sister City Bad Konigshofen and the sculpture in that park.

LW:  The Bad Konigshofen sculpture is close to my heart. My parents are German teachers (they actually met in Germany) and German culture played a big part in the childhoods of my sister and me. My family hosted citizens of Bad Konigshofen when a group came for the dedication of the statue. A few years later we went and visited Bad Konigshofen on a family vacation. It's a charming town and the people were absolutely lovely. 

DO:  Talk a bit about your art background.

LW:  I graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in costume design and a minor in art history. I took a particular interest in fashion history and how it often bleeds into art history. My educational background definitely informs my artistic style. I work in a lot of different artistic mediums but lately, I've been really enjoying digital art!

DO:  Like many artists, you also have a day job. Tell us about your work for the Arlington Museum of Art as the Marketing Coordinator.

LW:  A lot of fun tasks come with the job, but I think one of my favorites is exhibition design. Any time you come to the museum and see vinyl on the windows or the walls, it was designed by me! I also run all the social media for the AMA, and I love that it gives me a platform to share my knowledge of art history.

DO:  You're an Arlingtonian! How did your hometown pride feed your creativity as you were working on these illustrations?

LW:  It was interesting to try and approach the places I was drawing with new eyes. In order to really find the beauty in a space, I think it helps to let any preconceived notion or personal attachment fade away a bit. It's not my job to tell my story through the work; I'm telling the park's story. 

DO:  Anything else you'd like to add about your work on this series?

LW:  I am so honored that Downtown Arlington reached out to me. I am very proud of the finished product, and I hope it helps everyone rediscover the beauty in Arlington!

Downtown Outdoors  

Downtown Outdoors is a Downtown Arlington platform for discovering and experiencing the great outdoors in the heart of our city. Downtown Outdoors not only helps us see Arlington’s historical and cultural district differently, but creates opportunities to engage with our outdoor spaces through creative new programming that’s open to all. 

These days especially, there are so many beneficial reasons to regularly step out into the sunshine. Research shows that social distancing in outdoor spaces is much more effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19 as compared to indoors. Spending time and exercising outside also provide all kinds of health benefits.

Let’s go outside and play!  #ExploreDTArlington

What’s your favorite way to play?  

What other ideas do you have for enjoying the great outdoors in the heart of your city? We’d love to hear from you.