Duration: Five years as Meat Studio. I’ve been practicing as a professional graphic designer since I graduated in 2009, so it has been more than eleven years since I’ve started in the industry.
Location: I split my time between Beijing and Toronto. Because of COVID-19 and restrictions on travel, I’m currently based full time in Toronto.
Education: BDes with honors from York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Career path: During my time studying graphic design, I was also intrigued by the history of advertising. I then interned, on separate occasions, at Ogilvy in Beijing for more than two years. This ended up igniting my passion for design, so I turned away from advertising and have since focused on visual communication design—mostly visual identity design.
Cultural influences: As a Chinese Canadian, I consistently work on bilingual projects that require a nuanced understanding of this balancing act between Western and Asian perspectives, both aesthetically and culturally. For this reason, my approach has shifted to a more typography-based design and has become less stylized. Now, I focus on the efficiency and accuracy of communication, inspired by modernism, brutalism and the Swiss International Typographic Style.
Favorite projects: Chinese Protest Recipes. This book was a very personal project started by food commentator and writer The God of Cookery. During the pandemic and racial tensions of 2020, we started this project to protest White supremacy and racial inequality in the food industry using what we grew up with: Chinese food. The project started as a free digital download, but the print version has since raised a significant sum for nonprofit Color of Change. We were proud that we were able to voice and contribute to the meaningful dialogue of race this year, and that the proceeds contributed—albeit on a small scale—to a cause we believe in.
Another project I’m proud of is the identity and packaging for Peiping Machine taphouse in Beijing. For this craft beer brand, I delved into Chinese calligraphy and created a visual language that was not stereotypically to either Chinese culture or “craft beer bros.”
Work environment: Meat Studio’s physical space is located in a historic Hutong alley in Beijing. We work in this small, haphazardly built box of a building that has been there since the Qing dynasty. Of course, all around us are gentrified artisanal cafés and breweries. In Toronto, I currently work out of my home office, coordinating with my team in Beijing. The constant juggling of the two cultures is sometimes disorienting. You can’t really have set attitudes or approaches when you constantly swim through the cultural undercurrents of your work; however, this has largely shaped my creative approach and character, if not my personality.
Approach: Due to my lifelong experience of speaking two languages daily in my professional life, I find language fascinating, and that fascination is realized through typography. Typography has a voice of its own; it’s the tone of voice when one speaks. A lot of times, this tone of voice can speak as loud and communicate as much—if not more—than the message itself.
My design stands by the mission of communicating in ways that are honest to all parties and cultures involved, speaking the truth without escalating or devaluing, and not adding to mindless consumption or visual noise. All of this is socially and culturally charged. There’s a sense of purpose that transcends visual techniques and trends.
Aspirations: I would like to build a steady pool of collaborators in Toronto or beyond in North America as most of my professional endeavors have occurred in China and Asia. I look forward to learning and collaborating with brands that communicate their needs and messages in different ways. I would also like to continue engaging with my identity as a Chinese Canadian and seek more opportunities to raise awareness about racial identity within the Asian American communities, like an upcoming project related to feeding the homeless in North American Chinatowns.
Philosophy: Honesty and simplicity. I always try to create work that does what it needs to do, with no bells or whistles. This may sound drab, but I believe it is particularly relevant due to the bombardment of stimuli on social media and the surge of emotions in society at large. If a piece of visual communication achieves honesty and simplicity, it also achieves beauty.
Anything else? I’m open for collaborations with businesses, especially outside of the Chinese market! Write me an email at email@example.com or DM me on Instagram!