Established in 2019 by designers Xiaoxi Sun and Lang Wang, design studio PAY2PLAY proclaims its ethos right in its name. “Graphic design is a tough job [encompassing] the process of thinking, making and questioning, and this is the work ethic that drives us forward,” says Sun. “Our works are just like the name of our studio. We want the relationship with our clients could be more interesting, interactive and playful.” Drawing upon their interests in the aesthetics of grunge and post-punk music, the metaphors of impressionist poetry, and the work of designer Irma Boom and artist Sol LeWitt from Sun’s background in book design, the pair creates work for all kinds of printed media from books to catalogs to banners to CD packaging—anything as long as it enables them to experiment. “We develop concepts specifically for each project,” says Sun, “not simply imitating popular design trends. We like projects in which we’re given total freedom to experiment and develop our design practice.” Passionate about retaining his studio’s individuality, Sun holds this philosophy when it comes to the practice of design and the industry at large: “I always admire designers who can still have their own voices, and I hope that designers can remain independent,” he says. “Do not ignore design trends but do not follow them without thinking.”
This New York City–based illustrator seeks the contradictions within her subjects to develop visual metaphors infused with satire.