Interview with Yating Liu from United States

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Yating Liu

Yating Liu, an accomplished graphic designer with a robust creative background, holds a BFA degree from the renowned New York School of Visual Arts. It is at this prestigious institution that she refined her skills and cultivated a deep-seated passion for visual communication.

Interview with the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -Yating Liu

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

My name is Yating Liu and I am an experienced graphic designer with a strong creative background. I proudly hold a BFA degree from the prestigious New York School of Visual Arts where I honed my skills and developed a passion for visual communication.

Following my graduation, I had the privilege of working at renowned design companies in New York City, including Viacom, 2X4 (Beijing), and Prophet. These experiences provided me with valuable opportunities to collaborate with talented professionals and work on a diverse range of projects.

I am grateful to have received recognition for my work, having been honored with esteemed awards and it serves as a testament to the dedication and craftsmanship that I pour into every design I create.

Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with esteemed clients such as CBRE, Aranya, Fubon Art Museum, ByteDance, and many others. These collaborations have allowed me to apply my skills to various industries and contribute to the visual identity and success of notable brands and organizations.

I am passionate about exploring new creative avenues, pushing boundaries and delivering visually captivating designs that effectively communicate messages and resonate with audiences. With a keen eye for aesthetics and a deep understanding of design principles, I strive to bring innovation, impact, and purpose to every project I undertake.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?

I initially pursued a bachelor's degree in Applied Economics, something that I was influenced by my parents. However, as I approached graduation, I started contemplating my future path. It was during this time that the idea of design emerged. Although I had always been interested in design since I was young, I hadn't formed a clear vision until that sleepless night when I began questioning what I truly loved and what I wanted to do in the future.

I vividly remember the moment I first set foot in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. I felt a sense of happiness and conviction, perhaps because I had experienced chaotic and uncertain days, making me cherish the encounter with something I truly loved. I still recall the words spoken by a senior on that day, words that became my motto and reinforced my determination to become a designer. " In the journey of life, discover something that you possess the ability to do, feel a genuine love for, understand as something meaningful and valuable to society, and recognize as a task that specifically requires your unique contribution. Embrace the realization that in this very moment, you are living out that purpose."

This realization and the pursuit of design as a career have been driven by a combination of passion, purpose, and a desire to make a meaningful impact. The creative field allows me to channel my interests, skills, and imagination into tangible forms of expression. It provides me with the opportunity to solve problems, communicate ideas, and evoke emotions through visual means.

Choosing to become creative as a result of self-reflection, a deep connection to design since childhood, and a genuine desire to engage in a fulfilling and purposeful profession. It brings me joy to create and contribute to the world of design, and I am grateful for the path I have chosen.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

At 2x4 in Beijing, I am engaged in the field of image-making, utilizing my expertise in branding and advertising to convey unique and sophisticated perspectives through visual language. As part of my job profile, I create compelling visual content that effectively communicates the essence of a brand or concept.

My role involves collaborating closely with clients to understand their vision, goals, and target audience. With a deep understanding of design principles and a keen eye for aesthetics, I translate these insights into visually impactful solutions. Whether it's crafting brand identities, designing advertisements, or developing visual campaigns, my aim is to create meaningful and memorable experiences for viewers.

At 2x4, we pride ourselves on our commitment to delivering high-quality, innovative designs that resonate with our clients and their audiences. We embrace the power of visual communication to tell compelling stories, evoke emotions, and elevate brands to new heights.

In addition to my work at 2x4, I also stay updated with industry trends and developments, continuously refining my skills and exploring new creative avenues. I believe in the power of design to inspire, provoke thought, and make a lasting impression, and I strive to bring these qualities to every project I undertake.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?

Although I approach creativity through the lens of a graphic designer, it is important to recognize that creativity extends beyond our specific field. It encompasses how individuals perceive themselves and the world around them in unique ways. Take, for instance, the fascinating methods some people employ to introduce themselves or the unconventional approaches they adopt to enhance work efficiency.

Creativity is not confined to the realm of artists alone. In reality, anyone can experience a moment of extraordinary inspiration at any given time, becoming the fertile ground where creativity thrives.

The yearning for beauty serves as the inherent driving force behind the cultivation of creativity. It is crucial, above all, to remain attuned to life's perceptions and avoid falling into the trap of rigidity or apathy. By staying connected to the vibrancy of existence, you will continuously encounter and manifest your own creativity.

5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
In my perspective, a "creative" idea or design arises from a dynamic process of continuously refreshing thoughts and perspectives while closely observing the world around us. It is within this expansive realm of boundless possibilities that creativity flourishes, even when working within constraints or limited spaces. Essentially, I believe that creativity often finds its roots in specific conditions or limitations, acting as a catalyst for innovative ideas to blossom and thrive.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.

Brainstorming is where creativity begins, the moment when ideas unfold. When starting a new project, I often feel excited to grab a large sheet of paper and start conceptualizing, freely doodling, or creating mind-maps. It's a moment of freedom and exhilaration. Additionally, I immerse myself in various activities like engaging in conversations with different people, researching relevant books, and gathering images, rather than rushing to open design software.

Although each project follows a somewhat fixed and repetitive process, I gather insights and experiences from my observations and contemplations, which shape the foundation for the next endeavor. It could be a sentence from a conversation with family, a visit to a newly opened restaurant, or encountering a fresh perspective. This process is akin to threading a string through a string of pearls, where each encounter influences the mindset when approaching a new project. Design, in fact, acts as the thread that quietly interconnects the various strands of everyday life, omnipresent and facilitating energy transfer across different domains.

Challenges inevitably arise as the process unfolds. These obstacles can be minor hiccups, quickly resolved with technical solutions, or they can be significant problems requiring a complete reassessment and restarting from scratch. However, these hurdles often ignite a greater sense of determination in me to overcome them, as they also tend to coincide with reaching a stage of stability that requires an injection of excitement.

As a project progresses into its middle or later stages, I sense the transformation of the design from a two-dimensional plane to a three-dimensional or even four-dimensional space. It's akin to constructing a house, moving from sketches to foundations, building the entire structure, and finally adding the finishing touches. The design becomes increasingly complete and three-dimensional, evolving into its unique realm with its distinct tone. It extends beyond visual elements, considering minute details and macroscopic aspects. Designers become more perceptive and focused at this stage, creating a holistic and immersive experience.

Ultimately, my creative and design process involves a balance between free-flowing exploration, overcoming challenges, and refining ideas into multidimensional designs. It is a continuous journey of observation, inspiration, and meticulous craftsmanship that elevates a concept from mere visuals to an immersive and engaging experience.

7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

What captivates me the most in the design process is that immersive and focused state of mind, akin to submerging oneself into the depths of the ocean during a deep diving expedition. Everyday life feels like floating on the surface of the sea, but when I engage in design, it's like embarking on a profound dive. Perhaps it's because of my personality, being easily influenced by people and events in my surroundings. In daily life, I tend to be sensitive to interpersonal relationships and the occurrences around me.

However, design is the only realm where I can truly immerse myself, disregarding distractions. It doesn't mean that I isolate myself and become oblivious to the outside world while designing. Instead, it represents a state of being, where I find a sense of balance and inner peace.

This state allows me to explore my thoughts and ideas, free from external disturbances. It grants me the opportunity to channel my focus and creativity, diving deeper into the depths of design possibilities. It's a time when I can fully express my artistic vision, experiment with various concepts, and refine my designs with unwavering dedication. This immersive experience brings a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, as I witness my ideas taking shape and evolving into meaningful and impactful designs.

In this special zone of design, I discover a sense of calm and clarity, enabling me to unleash my creativity and fully engage with the artistic process. It is a deeply rewarding and rejuvenating experience that fuels my passion for design and keeps me continuously inspired.

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

In my creative style, I strive to achieve a sense of harmony, balance, and comfort in my work.

Within my designs, I aim to create a visual language that is harmonious and pleasing to the eye. I carefully balance elements such as color, composition, and typography to ensure a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing outcome. By finding the right equilibrium, I create an overall sense of visual balance that is visually appealing and engaging.

Furthermore, I prioritize creating a comfortable experience for the viewers. I consider the user's journey and aim to design with clarity and ease of use in mind. Whether it's through intuitive navigation, clear messaging, or thoughtful user interfaces, I seek to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for those interacting with my designs.

Overall, my creative style is characterized by a desire to evoke a feeling of tranquillity and visual satisfaction. By incorporating elements of harmony, balance, and comfort, I strive to create designs that not only capture attention but also provide a sense of calm and visual delight for the audience.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

I believe that the most profound influence on my creative process comes from Chinese typography. Chinese characters have a rich history spanning thousands of years, constantly evolving and developing. Whether it's the complexity of intricate brushstrokes or the simplicity of a single vertical or horizontal line, each Chinese character possesses its own unique and independent visual characteristics and harmonious structure.

When combined, these characters form a coherent rhythm, providing a visual delight. From an early age, we learn to write within square grids, and as we grow, each person develops their own distinctive handwriting style. Chinese typography embodies the pinnacle of harmony and balance, which is what I strive to achieve in my work—a sense of harmony and comfort. Balance doesn't necessarily mean symmetry or uniformity; rather, it refers to the organic integration of different elements, creating a visual experience that seeks freedom within limitations.

The cultural heritage of my country, with its intricate calligraphy and beautifully crafted characters, has deeply influenced my appreciation for aesthetics, composition, and the harmonious interplay of visual elements. It has instilled in me a profound respect for the art of typography and its ability to convey meaning and emotion through the graceful arrangement of characters. This cultural heritage serves as a constant reminder of the importance of balance, elegance, and the power of simplicity in design. It has shaped my creative process, guiding me to seek beauty, balance, and a sense of cultural identity in my designs.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Thank you for your congratulations! Winning the MUSE Creative Awards with all three of my submitted works is truly an honor. This recognition serves as a validation of my skills and creative abilities. It signifies that my work has resonated and made an impact within a broader scope, which is incredibly gratifying.

Receiving this award distinction not only boosts my confidence but also motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries of my creativity. It highlights the potential for further growth and improvement in my craft. It is a testament to the hard work and effort I put into delivering exceptional design solutions.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

One of the winning works I entered into the MUSE Creative Awards is a poster design, while the other two are branding designs. Each of these works evokes different visual experiences and presents unique themes.

Taking the example of the Algae typography design, I have always been fascinated by the vibrant scenes found in nature, often serving as inspiration for my typographic creations. Additionally, I am drawn to the strong contrast in styles seen in typefaces like Didot. With these influences in mind, I created the Algae typeface. My intention was to capture the intricacy and delicacy of marine organisms, while also evoking a sense of rhythmic movement and vitality, reminiscent of seaweed gently swaying in the depths of the ocean.

The typography carries an element of mystery. As seaweed moves gracefully, I wanted the letters to seamlessly flow together when conveying related words, creating a sense of fluid motion. From a distance or up close, viewers have different perceptions, igniting their imagination. The creation of this font involved a meticulous and intricate grid system, yet it was not constrained by the grid. The bends in the letters attempt to emulate the elegant twists and turns of drifting seaweed.

As a result, the font appears organic and irregular, with each letter possessing its own unique life. This versatile font can be applied in various contexts, such as cosmetics branding, magazine covers, or any themes related to marine conservation or environmental awareness.

Typography design has always been an area of great interest to me. In fact, another entry in the competition, "moMATH," also features a customized typeface. While studying abroad, my focus was predominantly on English typography design. However, upon returning to work in China, I naturally encountered more opportunities for Chinese design. The creative approaches and techniques between these two languages can be mutually beneficial and enrich my understanding and appreciation of typography design.

Overall, entering these projects into the MUSE Creative Awards allowed me to showcase my passion for typography design and the depth of my creative exploration in both English and Chinese typography. I am grateful for the recognition these works have received and the platform it provides to share my artistic vision with a wider audience.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

In the case of typography design, one of the biggest challenges is striking a balance between highlighting the individuality and distinctiveness of specific letters while ensuring cohesiveness when they are placed together.

For example, in the creation of the Algae typeface, it was essential to adhere to a meticulously structured grid system. Determining the precise placement of each letter's concave structure required numerous iterations and careful refinement. It was a challenge to maintain a harmonious overall composition while allowing each letter to stand out with its own unique personality.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Winning an award undoubtedly instills confidence and provides greater motivation in my practice and career.

Receiving recognition through an award serves as a testament to the skills, creativity, and hard work I have invested in my craft. It validates my abilities and expertise, boosting my confidence in my design capabilities. This newfound confidence empowers me to take on more ambitious projects and push the boundaries of my creative potential.

Moreover, winning an award enhances my professional reputation and credibility. It showcases my work to a wider audience, including potential clients, employers, and collaborators. This increased visibility can lead to new opportunities and collaborations, allowing me to expand my professional network and reach a broader audience.

Furthermore, the acknowledgment of an award serves as a source of motivation. It inspires me to continuously improve and strive for excellence in my work. The recognition reinforces my dedication to delivering high-quality designs and pushes me to stay at the forefront of industry trends and innovations.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

Design's Timeless Relevance: Design is an industry that spans back to ancient totemic cultures and extends into the future of intelligent innovations. It is a lifelong pursuit, where one can continuously explore and contribute to the evolution of design, leaving a lasting impact on society.

Constant Challenge and Curiosity: Design is a field where problem-solving leads to new challenges, creating an ongoing cycle of growth and discovery. It fuels curiosity, inspires a thirst for challenges, and keeps designers constantly engaged and energized. The ever-evolving nature of design ensures that there is always something new to explore and learn.

Impactful Transformation: Design has the power to transform lives, habits, and perspectives. It brings about positive change and updates outdated notions. It shapes the way we interact with the world and influences societal progress. Engaging in design work provides a sense of purpose, social value, and a deep understanding of the meaningful impact design can have on individuals and communities.

Overall, these three aspects highlight the enduring nature of design, the constant intellectual stimulation it offers, and its ability to bring about positive change, making the industry a rewarding and fulfilling profession to be a part of.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

China's unique cultural heritage contributes to its distinctiveness in the creative industry. The concept of Yin and Yang, representing balance and harmony, is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. This principle is often reflected in the creative works produced, where there is a deliberate effort to achieve a harmonious balance between elements.

Chinese typography, in particular, stands out as a significant area of focus and expertise. With a rich history and continuous development, Chinese characters have undergone reform, enrichment, and standardization. The study and exploration of Chinese typography have become essential aspects of visual communication. It is not enough to excel in English typography; there is a need to excel in Chinese typography as well.

By embracing the nuances and complexities of Chinese characters, designers in China have the opportunity to create visual narratives that resonate with Chinese audiences on a deeper level. The visual order and harmony inherent in Chinese typography provide a unique lens through which designers can communicate and evoke emotions effectively.

Furthermore, China's vast and diverse cultural landscape offers a wealth of inspiration and creative resources. From traditional art forms and ancient architectural marvels to vibrant festivals and regional customs, Chinese culture provides a rich tapestry of elements that can be incorporated into creative projects, giving them a distinctively Chinese flair.

In summary, China's cultural emphasis on balance and harmony, coupled with the importance placed on Chinese typography, contributes to its unique position in the creative industry. The exploration and mastery of Chinese characters provide designers with a valuable opportunity to create visually engaging and culturally resonant works that stand out in a global context.

16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Increasing Importance of Design and Creativity in the Era of AI: With the widespread adoption of AI and the integration of machines into various aspects of our lives, design, and creativity will become even more critical. For example, the emergence of chatbots powered by technologies like ChatGPT requires designers to adapt quickly, focusing on continuous creative output and addressing deep emotional needs that differentiate human experiences from AI-driven interactions.

Entering the Era of Spatial Computing: The introduction of technologies like Apple's vision pro and the concept of spatial computing signifies a shift towards designing with a strong emphasis on spatial awareness and immersive integration with the surrounding environment. Designers will need to deeply understand and utilize spatial design to enhance the effectiveness of information delivery and embrace the importance of human-computer interaction.

Blurring of Design Boundaries and Cross-disciplinary Collaboration: As intelligent products continue to evolve, the boundaries of design will become increasingly blurred and even disappear. Graphic design, for instance, will extend beyond visual aesthetics and involve collaborations with product design, spatial design, and interactive programming. Designers will need to possess not only traditional design skills but also interdisciplinary competencies to thrive in this evolving landscape.

Transformation of the Workplace: Remote work and flexible work models, accelerated by the impact of the pandemic, will likely become the norm. Designers will need to master and adapt to new collaborative tools, skills, and methods of communication, working with individuals from different fields, countries, and cultural backgrounds.

In summary, the design industry in the next five to ten years will become more complex and diverse. Designers will need to embrace these changes, seize opportunities, innovate, and continually enhance their comprehensive skills and international perspectives to stay relevant. Additionally, the growing global population and resource scarcity will further pressure the design industry, driving designers to seek environmentally friendly and sustainable design solutions.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Here is some advice I would offer:

Embrace Imperfection: When participating in competitions, remember that you don't have to achieve perfection before showcasing your work. The process of entering a competition is not just about the final result; it's an opportunity to observe the designs of those around you, assess your position, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and receive feedback on your current design level within a broader context. Use this feedback to continuously refine your skills and strive for improvement, preparing yourself for future competitions.

Learn from Others: Take advantage of the competition experience to learn from the works of fellow designers. Observe and analyze their approaches, techniques, and creative choices. This exposure will broaden your understanding of design, inspire new ideas, and help you develop your unique creative style. Look beyond the competition itself and engage with the wider design community to gain insights and expand your knowledge base.

Seek Feedback and Iteration: Don't hesitate to seek feedback from mentors, instructors, or fellow designers. Constructive criticism is valuable for growth and improvement. Embrace the iterative process and be open to refining your work based on feedback. Each iteration brings you closer to achieving your creative vision and enhancing the quality of your design. Remember that design is a journey of continuous learning and refinement.

Network and Collaborate: Connect with other professionals, designers, and individuals in the industry. Networking opens doors to opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and exposure to new perspectives. Engaging with a diverse network will broaden your horizons and inspire fresh ideas. Collaborative projects can help you enhance your teamwork skills and foster creativity through shared experiences and different viewpoints.

Stay Passionate and Persevere: The creative industry can be challenging, but maintaining your passion and perseverance is key to success. Stay curious, continuously explore new trends and technologies, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Embrace failures as learning opportunities and remain dedicated to your craft. With time and dedication, your skills and creativity will flourish.

Remember, the journey in the creative industry is as important as the destination. Embrace the learning process, embrace feedback, and never stop challenging yourself to grow and evolve as a designer. Good luck with your creative endeavors!

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?

Here are some recommended resources:

Reading: Immerse yourself in books, articles, and blogs related to design, creativity, and industry trends. Explore both practical guides and inspirational works to broaden your knowledge and gain new insights. Seek out renowned design publications and stay updated with the latest developments in the field.

Self-Learning: Cultivate a strong sense of self-learning. Take advantage of online platforms, tutorials, and courses that offer valuable resources for skill development. Websites like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare provide a wide range of courses on various design disciplines, software proficiency, and creative thinking techniques. Dedicate time and effort to practice and experiment with new concepts and tools.

Communication and Open-Mindedness: Engage in meaningful conversations and collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Interacting with fellow designers, industry professionals, and clients will expose you to different perspectives and approaches. Be open-minded and receptive to feedback and constructive criticism. Embrace opportunities for networking, attending design conferences, and participating in workshops to expand your professional connections and gain valuable insights.

Online Design Communities: Join online design communities and forums where designers share their work, exchange ideas, and provide feedback. Platforms like Behance, Dribbble, and Reddit's design subreddits can provide valuable inspiration and opportunities to connect with other creatives. Engage in discussions, seek feedback on your work, and learn from the experiences of others.

Industry Events and Exhibitions: Attend design-related events, conferences, and exhibitions to stay connected with the latest trends, emerging technologies, and industry thought leaders. These events offer networking opportunities, workshops, and keynote speeches that can inspire and invigorate your creative journey.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I am currently six months pregnant, and only a few close family members are aware of this. Pregnancy is a common experience, but for me, it represents the most courageous decision I have made in my life. I am excited to embark on this journey with my child, to see the world through their eyes, and rediscover the wonder and excitement that often fades as we grow older. It is a meaningful and fascinating process that I am looking forward to.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

My father has been the greatest inspiration in my life. Despite residing abroad for most of my childhood and infrequent meetings, he would often send me intriguing handicrafts and toys. He had a penchant for exploring flea markets and would find unique items. I vividly remember a boldly colored pencil case that could be unfolded into a desk calendar, a Garfield-shaped landline telephone, and the first Swatch watch he gifted me.

From then on, my father would bring me a new Swatch watch from every place or country he visited, turning me into a Swatch enthusiast and collector. Swatch watches became the initial catalyst for my perception of creativity. Despite their fixed structural design, they showcased an endless array of variations and innovative designs, from dial pointers to materials to forms. Every time I revisit them, I am amazed by their creativity.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Focus is the key to success. Stay deeply immersed in the areas you are passionate about and skilled in, without allowing external influences or the opinions of others to distract you.

Additionally, having a clear sense of purpose is crucial. As you dive into your pursuits, know your direction and where you want to go. It's not just about being fully engaged; it's about having a defined purpose that guides your actions and decisions.

Winning Entries

Yating Liu

Yating Liu, an accomplished graphic designer with a robust creative background, holds a BFA degree from the renowned New York School of Visual Arts. It is at this prestigious institution that she refined her skills and cultivated a deep-seated passion for visual communication.

Read more about this interview with Shuhan Sheng from the United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.