Senior visual designer at R/GA New York explains how her East-meets-West background helped shape her approach to her creative life
Meet Chiayu Chang, a senior visual designer from R/GA New York. By blending the conceptual elements of her upbringing in Taiwan with the logical, straightforward approach to design that she learned at Pratt Institute in New York, she has developed a unique approach to creativity that informs her work today.
Outside of work, Chiayu uses her talent to help immigrant-run businesses in NYC’s Chinatown transform their marketing for the modern age. We spoke with her to learn more about her creative process, interests and where she draws inspiration.
Q> What is your design philosophy?
CC> I usually approach visual design in a conceptual way, not too literal. To me, design elements should be meaningful and create a system that's scalable with a lot of logic behind each decision.
Q> How did your background inform your approach to the design work you do today?
CC> I am originally from Taiwan. When I moved to New York, I discovered that western culture is actually totally different from where I grew up in Asia. For most of Asian culture, things are not too literal, but I've realised that in western culture everything is straightforward and to the point. So I aim to balance the two together.
When I was studying design at Pratt, I learned that my work needs to speak to my audience, not just to myself. I came to realise that every element of each design needs to be meaningful.
Q> Where do you find creative inspiration?
CC> It’s everywhere! I've found inspiration from street art, posters, signage, photography, books, movies. I like photography – I usually take a lot of photos with my phone, which is another way to train my eyes for visuals, colour information and design.
I go to galleries and museums to get inspired and see how artists use their mediums and art to communicate with their audience. I also find the art at R/GA to be pretty inspiring! The floor where I work has a small hidden hallway that I like to visit because it feels more like a museum than an office.
Another thing I am interested in is Asian culture in America. Lately I have been really into Peter Meehan and David Chang’s show ‘Ugly Delicious’. Chang is such an interesting person, and I like the way he talks not only about food, but about the elements of the cultures surrounding each meal.
Q> Do you have any passion projects outside of work?
CC> Yes actually! I'm working on a side project with another R/GA coworker, Terrence Ma, helping local Chinatown businesses with their marketing.
A lot of our business partners are immigrants who came to New York long ago and were already running a business, but they don't really understand how to keep up with modern marketing. We want to help them adapt to the changing neighborhood. So we help them build a website, tell the owner's story and show them how to bring life to their internet presence.
We are also launching a Chinatown Arts Week in October! It’s really exciting and interesting for me because it combines my interests in culture, arts, and design together to help others.