Playful and unapologetic: Yehchungyi values the art and interactivity of his medium
The Taiwan-based designer talks us through his recent commissions, citing his stubborn yet artistic approach as his greatest tool.
- Ayla Angelos
- 9 February 2021
It’s always interesting to hear of a designer’s career path, more so if that path isn’t all too linear. Yehchungyi – a Taiwan-based designer – first majored in Japanese Language at university and, at the time, admits he didn’t have a grasp on design at all. He was 25, and decided to pursue a master’s in the Japanese city of Kyoto to become a tourist guide, “to immerse in the cultural vibes,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I was astonished by the many pleasant things around the city. It was the first time I knew what design, art and photography was.”
Ever since this catalytic moment, Yehchungyi has been fascinated by design. So much so that he decided to devote his future practice solely to the workings of the medium. Yet as it goes, he ended up spending the last two years working in the fields of contemporary art and photography – inspired by the work of architecture and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. It wasn’t long until he’d “jumped into the world of typography” to create Mook – a Chinese edition magazine and book with a strong focus on the typographic form.
Now, Yehchungyi works predominantly in the fields of editorial design, packaging, branding and poster work. The design is far-reaching but his love of colour and unrestrained characteristics remains the same – a style dictated by his background in the arts. Not to mention the fact that he follows an ethos that succumbs to the following: “I support the statement that design is ‘applied arts’, and value the artistry and interactivity of design,” he says. “All types of projects are interesting to me.”
In this sense, the designer works freely with experimentation at the core of his practice, citing “delicious”, “provocative” or “stunning” as the keywords that best describe it. “I enjoy looking at those misprints when I visit the printing shop,” he adds, noting how he gets excited by the failures and elements that get thrown away. “I get inspired by them; how to capture the design element in the misprints is thought-provoking.” This gives reasoning to his wonderfully playful designs, where neon colours and illustrative mishaps decorate each completed project with an artful taste.
When creating his joyful compositions, Yehchungyi dives straight in. He avoids any preliminary sketches, and instead prefers to jump into the brainstorming phase – thinking mentally about how best to provoke the audience’s emotions. Then, he’ll start devising the best way to interact with these emotions, and the most reasonable method of doing so through his practice. These emotions, he says, can be anything from anger to pleasure. He’s not fussy, just as long as there’s some kind of feeling involved. “After many practices have been done in my mind, I begin to work directly on the computer,” he says. “It feels like I build a virtual module in my mind palace and simulate any possibilities – I’m not sure if those are my illusions,” he jests, using a mix of Illustrator, InDesign, Photograph and an Apple magic mouse as his tools of choice. “Nothing fancy – I don’t have any special tricks.”
Yehchungyi splits his time between commissions and, when doing so, tends to stick to his guns in terms of the approach. For example, the client “usually” disapproves of the ways in which he only presents one proposal and doesn’t allow for any amends or adjustments. “However,” he says, “when they receive positive feedback from the marketing site, they usually extend an olive branch to me and we finally become friends.” A recent commission of his is the identity for the Taiwan Design Expo last year. The project was assigned by the Hsinchu government, following the concept of a public-facing identity that inspires everyone to join in with the local community. “The main visual design aims to incorporate the four elements of wind, WIFI, bamboo and the internet,” he says, “which is symbolised, unitised and flexibly combined to form various visual extensions.” For the wind element, he referenced “spinning wind” imagery, pairing it with a feeling of motion: “wind transforms into Hsinchu Monsters to guide people on their paths of pursuit and exploration” he says, continuing to explain how the Hscinchu Monsters are a public favourite that tend to get shared widely on social media.
Another commission is for the UDN 500 Party, a one-day limited outdoor lifestyle market held by the UDN newspaper, published in Taiwan. For the brief, he was tasked to approach the younger generation, and thus build a courageous visual identity. It was “too overwhelming and nonsense to the clients” when he presented it, but two weeks later they managed to “absorb” the design concept. This, plus a previous project for the Taiwan National Day Celebration – that which adopts elements of video games from the 80s – proves Yehchugyi’s multifarious and experimental means of design, and a uniquely unyielding attitude that is very much his own.
Yehchungyi: 2020 Taiwan Design EXPO (Copyright © Yehchungyi, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.