We had the good fortune of connecting with Viv Li and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Viv, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Anything creative and artistic just came very natural to me. At a very young age, I loved and excelled at drawing, painting, calligraphy, dancing and just really anything that allows me to express my creativity and individuality. I can’t imagine doing anything else other than being a creative in many forms.
During my preteen years, I won many awards for Chinese calligraphy. At the same time I was working on drawing my first graphic novel. Then in my teenage years, I shifted my interest in fashion and advertising. I never really wanted to be a model. As a creative person I didn’t want to just be the empty canvas other artists showcase their visions on. But because I had to support myself fully since I was 16, when I was scouted for a modeling gig while I was working retail at a mall, I couldn’t say no. So I got into modeling in my late teens and early twenties as a way of paying my bills until I started working in corporate marketing where I turned the tables. I directed the shoots and created the campaigns, hosted model searches and got on the other side of the camera. At that time, I never even knew you could be a professional “content creator” back when I started “content creating”. I have always loved documenting and sharing my personal fashion, style and travels. Way before Instagram was even a thing, I made photo books and started a blog to share my experiences. I got on Instagram as my sharing platform when it started in 2011, it quickly gained attraction while I was sharing my travels and style around the world. Being a content creator allows me to combine all my experiences and talent in modeling, advertising, marketing, creative directing, design etc. all together and allows me to flourish in this industry.
I guess you can see I did not chose to be a Creative, but it all came to me and I wouldn’t know who else I can be if not a creative.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Born in China, raised in the Bay Area USA, grew up across both East and West Coast of Canada, Canadian by passport, Citizen of the world. As a digital influencer, content creator and model, Viv Li has worked with many established international brands on some very successful promotions and campaigns. She also has 7 years of experience in corporate marketing, public relations and media relations. Viv has a dedicated following on Instagram, growing at a rapid rate and expanding faster as it grows. She has modeled in commercials and magazines extensively whilst she was living internationally and globe trotting. Viv dedicates her time exploring the world and sharing the beauty of our globe with her audience prior to the pandemic. She has been to over 80 Countries, all 7 continents of the world and currently based between USA, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Li and her husband Victor Tsui have had multiple very successful Luxury Hotel & Tourism Board collaborations around the world. They are luxury hotel and resort’s favorite couple to work with and shoot with. Their chemistry and vibes are exactly what luxury hotels are looking for in their marketing campaigns to appeal to everyone. They have previously collaborated with most of the top luxury hotel chains around the world such as Ritz Carlton, Intercontinental, Sofitel, Pullman, W, Shangri-La, Four Seasons hotels to name a few, including Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong most recently for their holiday campaign.
The pandamic has affected my work tremendously. Prior to the Pandemic I was traveling all over the world creating content and modeling for many luxury hotels and tourism boards. In 2019 I was on over 50 flights, created marketing campaign materials for luxury hotels such as Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, W, InterContinental, Hyatt, Sofitel to name a few, across 5 continents. Since the Pandemic, I had to pivot for my work and have redirected my brand to more fashion/ style focused rather than travel content. Since traveling freely isn’t a possibility from most countries in the world. It has been a tough couple of years, as I navigate through the many challenges of the pandemic, shifting focus for my brand and continue to create content despite not being able to travel.
It is really hard to balance life and work, I have to do it all. As a content creator, I work all the time and have taken on many roles from model, creative director, stylist, photographer, editor, makeup artist, retoucher, media outlet, marketing specialist, accountant, manager, copywriter, admin… the list goes on and on. I am not just doing one job as a content creator, but many jobs at once.
When I used to be the marketing director for commercial real estate (such as shopping centers) I have hired a whole team to do one campaign shoot – makeup & hair artist, stylist, photographer, videographer, editor, assistant etc. etc. Now I still do many campaign shoots for many brands but the whole team is just me.
In my past corporate life, I was the head of Marketing for 70+ million square feet of commercial space across Canada, planning and executing targeted, strategic advertising and communication strategies, creative direction for all designs and campaigns, media and community Relations. I have planned and executed large scale community events 15,000+ in attendance.
I then went on to travel the world and create. Ever since, I have been to over 80 Countries, all 7 continents of the world. I have seen the world while working with some of the biggest brands in the world creating their social media content and marketing campaigns. Some of the known brands that I have partnered with are Panasonic, PUMA, Ritz Carlton, Hyatt Hotels, PrettyLittleThing, L’oreal to name a few.
I am actually an artist, I love drawing, painting, and illustration. When I was a young girl, I wanted to publish my own graphic novel.
Many people assumed that I came from a wealthy family or have rich partners to support me in my lifestyle and luxury travels. But the truth is I came from a broken family, raised by a single mom since I was one year old. I moved around the world growing up, and changed to a new school, in a new city basically every school year. It was difficult to say the very least. I left home and supported myself through multiple retail jobs while attending high school since the age of 16. Life has been nothing but easy for me, I was broken at many points of my life, but I just continued to push through. I was mixed up with the wrong crowd, and have been expelled multiple times from school due to being overworked and having to support myself. However I ended up graduating high school with honors and got a scholarship from some of the best universities in Canada. I got my degree at OCAD university in Toronto (one of the best design schools in Canada) where I majored in design and advertising. I am proud to say that I made the life that I live today and nothing was handed to me. I do credit a lot of my success to luck and timing though, as I believe without that I wouldn’t be where I am today. However, luck and opportunities only happen to those who put in the work and ready for it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Victor Tsui who supported and always did whatever he could to help me in my creative career. He is a super talented creative and fitness entrepreneur himself. Genuinely the most beautiful person inside out that I have ever met.