Alabama native Lillis Taylor received her BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2003 and worked for book and toy development company, becker&mayer! books. Her time with the company introduced Taylor to overseas manufacturing, which inspired her to consider US/China labor relations. Taylor moved to Wuhan, China to teach English, study Mandarin, and absorb Chinese culture. After one year of teaching, Taylor returned to Seattle and the UW's Jackson School of International Studies to pursue a master's in China Studies, receiving her degree in 2009.
Taylor's time in graduate school introduced her to teaching, grant-writing, and community development. While pursuing her degree, she maintained her artistic pursuits through a collaboration with her father, artist Trés Taylor. First conceived as illustrated robes for Trés' iconic monks, this collaboration would become the inspiration for Tré Lilli, a line of textiles Taylor designs using her father's imagery.
Hoping to research Chinese communities embedded in Italy, Taylor detoured to Tuscany, supporting her now-husband's performative work as a graphic designer and photo-documentarian.
Taylor returned home to Birmingham, AL in 2010 and embarked on a decade of community development with a focus on how the arts can invigorate education and economic growth.