Challenging the boundaries between masculinity and femininity, meet Junbin Yang
Combining dance, graphic design, art and motion design, the London-based designer dedicates his practice to expressing the voice of Chinese youth and issues affecting them.
- Jyni Ong
- 8 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
With a wealth of diverse experience under his belt, Junbin Yang explores the possibilities of visual communication design. Currently based in London but having graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Junbin has previously worked in advertising, as a graphic designer for a bookstore, and also has over three years as a dance performer. These intersecting creative interests, interspersed between London and Guangzhou, have over the years incubated in an interest in identity recognition and gender temperament; themes Junbin’s practice now centre around.
“Whether it is lifestyle, choreography or fashion, I continue to challenge the boundaries between masculinity and femininity,” he tells us. The same goes for his work in visual design, which is explosive in colour and composition. Intriguing both visually and conceptually, a challenging of the boundaries is “an essential concept” of Junbin’s creation, something he applies to thought patterns and creative processes throughout his practice.
Junbin first came to design through a love of posters. The interaction between illustration and type proved interesting to him. And he also liked motion design and its endless artistic possibilities too. Combining the two, with time, he gauged a clear direction on what creative path he wanted to pursue, crafting an aesthetic reminiscent of The Rodina, artist Tianzhou Chen or animator Bing Huang. At the same time Junbin investigates stimulating modes of thought which delve in multi-media fusion and boundary pushing concepts.
With this in mind, Junbin has been experimenting greatly in his practice thus far. Working at the intersection between fine art and design, he enacts performative and multi-sensory design methods stretching across 2D and 3D, encompassing the gamut of motion and traditional graphic design with a hint of performance. In turn, these oscillating disciplines allow Junbin to whole heartedly explore social issues and phenomena; matching the concept to the medium in depending on the most apt mode of communication.
Recently, he designed the visual identity and motion graphic design for a project titled Criticality in Practice, as well as a series of motion posters for the GMD MA designers’ salon and alumni conversations. The idea for the design came straight out of the pandemic, something Junbin saw as an opportunity as much as a blow. “I wanted to use visual language to make people pay attention to the changes and impacts of the epidemic on our studies and lives,” he says. “It has changed our lives, but it cannot change our ability to acquire knowledge and insight.”
In his design, Junbin uses defamiliarisation techniques to reconstruct and distort what is familiar in the bedroom. The work allows us to see our ordinary lives from a new perspective, cleverly using the pandemic as a guise to challenge the typicality of life. As our bedroom furniture has gradually become more and more integrated into our daily lives due to the pandemic, Junbin pays tribute to this through the design, citing how he has spent most of his time in his bedroom. “Our perceptions, knowledge, insights are gained from this space and our socialising, entertaining and communicating all happen in our bedroom,” he adds.
The designer also mentions his undergraduate project titled A virtual influencers, Non-gender beauty. He explains: “Although there are more diversified gender expressions in today’s society, there is still much unfair treatment among transgender, asexual and other sexual minorities in China.” With this in mind, Junbin creates a non-gendered virtual human living in future society and showing the gender possibilities that can happen in China’s future. Commenting on sexual minority inequality and raising awareness on the situation, the designer looked to Judith Butler to inform the project, studying her theory on gender performativity in particular. Using himself as the avatar blueprint, he created a virtual influencer called Yang Juanjuan who lives in a world free from gender labels and binaries. The project includes five different campaigns shedding light on Yang Juanjuan’s living conditions, tying in gender performance theory throughout the narrative.
As for the future, Junbin hopes his work can be seen to “express the voice of our young Chinese generation.” Tapping into the consciousness of the Chinese youth, Junbin hopes to continue to use his practice to discuss important social issues. Topics such as these include Chinese gender diversity, subculture theory and trends in Chinese youth fashion and aesthetics. He hopes to be able to further explore these matters through choreography, sound, motion graphics, programming, print and more.
Junbin Yang: Website (Copyright © Junbin Yang, 2021)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.