Interview with Yingxuan Dan from the United States

Bowen Shen
Interview with Bowen Shen from the United States
July 9, 2024
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Yingxuan Dan

Yingxuan Dan is a lead designer who specialises in maximalist aesthetics and music visual design, skillfully using synesthesia to convey visual information. She has participated in multiple formats / Boston Art Book Fair, etc., showcasing versatility and commitment to the field of design.

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

I grew up in China with a passion for art and music, leading me to study Visual Communication Design in a joint program between Beijing Normal University and Brand University in Germany. I excelled academically, ranking among the top students and earning annual scholarships.

My design style is always inspired by music and blends Eastern and Western influences. I continued my education at Boston University, where I explored experimental design and worked as a designer and teaching assistant. I've collaborated with institutions like MIT and Harvard / Musicians and music clubs on various projects, merging my love for music and design.

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

A lifelong passion for art and music has driven my journey as a designer. Growing up, I explored a variety of art forms and music genres, which fostered an appreciation for creative expression. During my undergraduate studies, I discovered my true passion - design, and music.

The excitement of creating visually appealing and meaningful work resonated deeply with me. My experiences in collaborative projects, music-related design, and experimental media further strengthened my resolve. Ultimately, I chose to become a designer, merging my love of art and music and continuing to explore and innovate in this field.

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

I work as the lead designer at a start-up company, founded by Harvard and MIT. Here I'm responsible for the entire visual identity of the brand, including designing the logo, marketing promotions, various posters, and merchandise.

In addition to my work as design director, I collaborate with musicians and artists, providing design services for recitals, album covers, and concert lists. I have ongoing partnerships with groups in New York Clubs, designing posters and promotional materials for various events and DJs.

My work integrates experimental design approaches, new media, and interactive elements, continuously pushing the boundaries of traditional design and exploring the intersection of music and visual art.

4What does “design” mean to you?

Design is my way of blending visual expression with my love for music. It's about crafting compelling narratives, much like a well-composed song, that evoke emotions and tell stories. Design isn't just about aesthetics; it's about solving problems and enhancing experiences.

Inspired by music, I infuse rhythm, harmony, and mood into my designs, creating works that resonate deeply with people. Ultimately, design is my avenue for making a meaningful impact and connecting with others on a visceral level.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My favorite kind of design aligns closely with the acid graphic and experimental design styles. Artists like David Rudnick and Jonathan Castro Alejo captivate me with their avant-garde aesthetics, which defy traditional norms and immerse viewers in a hallucinogenic experience. The raw visual impact and unique texture play in their works are utterly captivating.

This style seamlessly integrates into music design, allowing dynamic images and sound to blend harmoniously, adding layers of depth to the overall experience. It's a fusion of art forms where visuals and audio intertwine, creating a multi-sensory journey that resonates deeply with me.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?
In my view, a "good" design transcends mere commercial viability. It's about effectively communicating the designer's vision and eliciting resonance from the audience. What truly matters to me is whether the designer approaches their work with genuine dedication and passion, rather than solely focusing on its commercial success.
7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

The idea for my award-winning design was inspired by my love for music and fascination with visual storytelling. Drawing from Daft Punk's music and the avant-garde styles of designers like David Rudnick, I aimed to create a design that captured the essence of cosmic exploration and philosophical reflection.

It was a humble attempt to merge my personal passions with innovative design approaches.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?

My main source of inspiration for this design was the song "Veridis Quo" by Daft Punk. This track evoked a sense of wonder, exploration, and introspection, which I sought to capture in my design.

Additionally, I drew inspiration from the futuristic aesthetics of Daft Punk's music and the avant-garde styles of designers like David Rudnick and Jonathan Castro Alejo. Their work pushed the boundaries of traditional design, inspiring me to experiment with unconventional techniques and textures.

Overall, my design was deeply influenced by the intersection of music, philosophy, and visual art.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
The profound philosophical heritage of my high-context culture shapes my design process, infusing concepts of harmony and symbolism into my work.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning the London Design Awards is an incredible honour for me. It validates the unique style and creativity that we bring to my design. Amidst a sea of established commercial designs, I often questioned if my distinctive style was needed in the market.

However, winning this award has reassured me. It reminds me of a conversation I had with an artist I admire, who encouraged me to embrace my style without worrying about market acceptance. This award serves as a significant encouragement and validation, reminding me that my work is valued and appreciated.

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

The winning project I entered into the London Design Awards is titled "Interstellar Enigma - Egoism of Stars," an album cover design inspired by Daft Punk's song "Veridis Quo." I chose to enter this project because it embodies my passion for music and design, merging futuristic aesthetics with avant-garde styles.

Winning this award validates my creative vision and provides a platform to share my work with a wider audience.

12What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenges during the design process were balancing complexity with clarity and capturing the essence of the song's themes visually. To overcome them, I iterated on the design, simplified elements, and immersed myself in the music for guidance.

Collaboration and perseverance were key to refining the design until it effectively communicated its message.

13How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?
Winning this award boosts my confidence and validates my design approach. It may lead to new opportunities, collaborations, and increased visibility within the design community. Overall, it serves as a significant milestone that will positively impact my future as a designer.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the design industry?
Freedom to explore, the opportunity for imaginative expression, and the courage to boldly convey unique perspectives.

Winning Entry

Album Cover: Interstellar Enigma - egoism of stars | 2024 London Design Awards

Inspired by the song "Veridis Quo" by the iconic French electronic music duo Daft Punk, the album cover design for "Interstellar Enigma - Egoism of Stars" embodies the theme of exploration and the quest for meaning. "Veridis Quo," translating to "Where do you want to go?" delves... (read more here.)

Yingxuan Dan

Yingxuan Dan is a lead designer who specialises in maximalist aesthetics and music visual design, skillfully using synesthesia to convey visual information. She has participated in multiple formats / Boston Art Book Fair, etc., showcasing versatility and commitment to the field of design.

Read about the Interview with Atsushi Murakami about Chuji from Japan here.